After a fire in 1978, I was looking for a small ranch so that my nine-year-old daughter would have a place to ride her horse since where she had initially been training was being shut down. We decided to come out farther west. That was where we stumbled upon a beautiful 300-acre property. Unfortunately, we had found it right after it had been scorched by a significant fire in 1978. The ranch belonged to a family who had survived the fire by staying safe in their swimming pool, although they could not fathom the idea of trying to recreate what they had. From that initial acquisition of the 300-acres burned property for my nine-year-old daughter to ride horses, not long after it became a palate in which we could create something incredible as far as a place to raise our family. Not only was it home to my eldest three but as the family continued to grow it also become a home for the next six children and my beautiful wife who I had met not long after purchasing the ranch. She helped raise all nine of our kids who have gone on today to do astounding things for themselves. This farm became our home.
Our initial vision was to plant avocado trees, ride our horses and overall live a pretty rural life. From a burned piece of land to a beautiful farm with over 15,000 avocado trees, flowers, orchards, lakes, and exotic animals; this ranch became a haven. In the early 90's we had a terrible freeze and lost more than a million pounds of avocados. It was the vastest crop we ever had, and in one night we lost it all. Not only did we lose a million pounds of avocados, but we lost our production for the next two years. We decided then, avocados were not the right business for this particular place. Since more than 100 acres were comprised of avocados, we realized we needed to search for another crop. That is how we got involved in the wine business.
After a lot of research and study, we knew that wine grapes would be a great alternative. In 96' we planted our first 15 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend was not bottled until the year 2000 and released approximately two years later. That was the beginning of a new company, Saddlerock Malibu Estate Vineyards.
In 2010 we traveled to Africa as a family and had a fantastic time on the safaris all throughout South Africa. Upon returning home, I decided to create a unique version of a South African safari right here in Malibu. The difference between our safaris and a safari on the other side of the world is that we would be tasting the wines that were grown on the property. After building our first vehicle my staff and some of my family said it was a stupid idea and the project was tabled. My son, Dakota Semler came home from his studies in D.C during the summer of 2014 as a summer project came up with a proposal of taking the idea of the wine safari and telling me that he would make it a success. He did. Today that is, of course, Malibu Wine Safaris; an opportunity to come face to face with exotic animals and try some of the best wine in the Los Angeles area. Another offshoot of this is when my other son Shane Semler realized he could create a business that matches his lifestyle of an outdoors, active kind of guy. He created Malibu Wine Hikes, which is an excellent experience for people who want to know the history of the ranch and see what it is we do here, where you are afterward hosted across the street to enjoy the fantastic wine created with love from the Semler Family.