For some, the sub-holiday known as Black Friday is the best shopping event of the year. For others it’s just something to do that gets you out of the house and — let’s face it — allows you to take that pent up anger from dealing with your family out on complete strangers at Best Buy.
But for us, the very idea of going shopping at 2 a.m. with thousands of people after having just spent the evening with your family has got to be one of the worst tortures imaginable. It’s right up there with chewing tinfoil while running a half-marathon and hydrating with nothing but laxatives at every quarter mile.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there are other things to do on Black Friday that have nothing to do with shopping and everything to do with wine and getting the hell out of Dodge. All it takes is one tank of gas, and you’re free and clear of L.A. and all of the Black Friday insanity.
Since an estimated 247 million people will be out in the pre-dawn hours in pursuit of big-big savings, Black Friday is the perfect time to take an adventure trip away from Black Friday by doing something extreme, like perhaps touring a vineyard from 1,300 feet in the air.
Margarita Adventures in Paso Robles (roughly three hours from Los Angeles), offers a zip-lining and wine-tasting package that also includes a guided tour of the 14,000-acre Santa Margarita Ranch. (Something I had the chance to experience when Kawasaki invited me to Paso to join them in celebrating the release of their new vehicle: the Mule Pro–FXT.) It never occurs to you when you wake up in Los Angeles that three hours to the north it could be hazy and damp, and so despite the very un SoCal weather, you can easily find yourself driving a four-wheel powered utility vehicle about the size of a golf cart through a narrow, muddy mountain pass at 1,800 feet. And then just as quickly find yourself suddenly under blue skies looking down through a forest canopy onto a rainbow in a valley hundreds of feet below, while black bears roam the hillsides from safe distances.
While it’s nice to know a tank of gas can take you to a place so radically different than where you woke up, a safer, family-friendly van tour of the ranch is more common for the first phase of the Margarita Adventures’ tour, as is the opportunity to zip-line.
Phase two of the tour involves zipping across five peaks on a 4,500 feet of cable, starting with a 1,200-foot valley crossing, and ending with an 1,800 foot-long run that has you jumping off of the side of a 1,300 foot mountain, flying through trees, and eventually soaring high over a vineyard. The tour ends at the Ancient Peaks Winery for a full tasting of all the wines made from the grapes growing below the zip-line flight path.
Located fourteen miles off the ocean and situated beneath the peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the certified sustainable Margarita Vineyard is unique for its micro climate. The mountains block the marine layer from cooling the grapes too much, but at the same time allow for just enough ocean breeze to creep into the valley in both the mornings and evenings that the grapes are still able to mature slowly. Their ability to hang on the vines a bit longer than in most vineyards in the Paso Robles area gives the fruit, and subsequently the wines, a unique sense or place.
Ancient Peaks Merlot $17: Notes of cherry and blueberry on the nose with ripe blackberry preserves and hints of vanilla, coconut and toast. Supple tannins and soft texture make this a great bottle to have around the house after the family has gone home.
Margarita Adventure’s zip-line and kayak tours will be honoring the Black Friday spirit by offering 20% voucher online for any visit, as well as 20% off for Friday the 28th for a Black Friday special.
Space is limited and reservations are required. Visit margarita-adventures.com for more information.