The wide wheelbase of Jeep Rubicons kicks up age-old dust as they trundle across the dry open vistas of the desert. Inside, Borrego Jeep Photo Tours' guides describe local flora and fauna as they reveal the arid land's most spectacular natural formations such as Coyote Canyon or Split Mountain. They provide passengers with complimentary bottles of cold water and snacks on tours that last anywhere from two to six hours. Professional photographer Aaron Dennis accompanies every tour on their journey, providing guests with in-the-field photographic instruction as they capture their own images as keepsakes.
The Ramona Valley's long history of winemaking dates back to early Spanish missionaries who settled into the area in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The region’s altitude, high rainfall, and stable pattern of hot days and cool nights nurture the high-quality grapes fermented by Pamo Valley, Shawaesdall, and Lenora vineyards. After assisting with the winery’s operations for several years, Jennifer Jenkin took full ownership of Pamo Valley Winery in March 2007, turning the venture into one of the only women-owned wineries in the area. She produces award-winning wines in limited quantities to ensure that each contains captivating flavor notes and deter mutiny attempts by any one varietal. Schwaesdall Winery lies along 6 acres of boulder-strewn property managed by vintner and San Diego native John Schwaesdall. John first developed a passion for winemaking while working with vineyards planted in the 1950s—a passion that grew into a fulltime vocation after he planted, fed, and clothed 4.5 acres of his own vines. He and his pet turkey Zinny oversee the production of red and white wines, which visitors can sample in a tasting room constructed of straw bales. The rural vineyards of Lenora Winery produce eight distinct wine grapes, which ferment into the winery’s selection of single-origin and blended wines. A screened-in tasting room and separate picnic area allow guests to sample the wines surrounded by countryside scenery and the gazes of jealous sommelier squirrels.
Sprawled across 20 acres on Sunshine Summit, La Serenissima produces premium, handcrafted wines. To develop its complex varietals, the Venetian estate winery follows traditional winemaking practices that have been passed from one generation to the next. Such a process begins with remarkable grape quality, which La Serenissima achieves through organic farming practices. The winery's process also includes meticulous harvesting, oak barrel fermentation, and aging timed by taste instead of pouring the wine into a giant hourglass. La Serenissima showcases this process during winery tours, during which visitors taste wines in different stages of aging straight from the barrels.
The impressive stone veranda at Vineyard Grant James allows visitors a view of the property in all its grandeur. Lush vines and grassy paths stretch across its 3 acres, just the beginning of a larger vineyard to come. But the vineyard is more than a breathtaking view; it's settled in the perfect climate for growing a wide variety of grapes. Elevations of up to 2,200 feet, decomposed granite soil, and an average temperature of 64 degrees contribute to the perfect atmosphere for cultivating syrah, merlot, sangiovese, orange muscat, greco, refosco, and nebbiolo grapes—which its winemakers mix into five smooth varietal blend wines.
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Brands Used: Dye Precision, Tippmann, NXe, Empire, Eclipse, Valken
Pro Tip: Please dress appropriately. You are going to get dirty. The paint will wash out of clothes.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Forests, trenches, and Speedball.
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Having spent her early years on an alfalfa ranch, Sabrina Fortyune of Vineyard Trail Rides has spent most of her life around livestock, and developed a special appreciation for horses at a young age. That equine enthusiasm never abated, and today she can look back on a three-decade career as a professional horse trainer and competitor, working with breeds ranging from arabians to quarter horses. Riders in search of a relaxing jaunt can head out into the surrounding countryside on a trail ride among oak trees and ponds more peaceful than the ocean during a shark conference.