The flock of zebras chasing each other is the first indication you’re about to experience something special. Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Saddlerock Ranch expands more than 200,000 acres and includes 60,000 vines, a vintage Airstream park, meticulously groomed lawns perfect for wedding ceremonies and ancient caves with pictographs painted by the Chumash Indians.
Taking a walk through the private property requires comfortable shoes and a bottle of water — the temperature easily reaches 110 degrees in the summer — but it’s worth it. You will most likely discover one of the many buildings left to the forces of nature. Some haven’t seen the sight of a hammer or a paint brush in more than 100 years, and that’s what makes them beautiful.
But it’s not the impressive details or the exotic animals — there are also camels and buffalo — that eventually stop you in your tracks. Once you exit your car, it’s the silence that makes the biggest impression. It’s such an absence of everyday noise that when you first notice it, it almost hurts your ears.
And since most cellphones are out of network throughout the property, you have no choice but to take a pause from your daily life. Go ahead and look out over the vineyards, let the sun hit your cheeks and be present in the moment.
Above: The steep slopes and rocky terrain provide the perfect environment for growing grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Above: A vintage school bus is part of the collection of oddities on the ranch.
Above and below: The abandoned cottage is a remnant from the California Gold Rush in the 1850s.
Above: The beauty of the landscape and the unbeatable views make Saddlerock the perfect location for an outdoor wedding.
Photography by Ulrica Wihlborg ©2013.