Catalina from A to Z: Exotic El Rancho Escondido

Hello, and welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge! This year my theme is Catalina from A to Z, featuring posts about the Southern California island of Catalina. With a focus on the island’s romantic side, I’ll be sharing info about where to go, what to see and do, plus a few sneak peeks from my novel in progress, Wife For A Weekend, which is set on the island!

What’s more romantic than a hidden ranch?

Back when Catalina was still a relatively undeveloped island in the early 1930s, the Wrigley family (whose Catalina Island Company privately owns the island to this day) decided to tame and breed some of the island’s wild horses. Ultimately, this resulted in a horse breeding program that brought the family’s Arabians success at horse shows and competitions throughout the United States. El Rancho Escondido, aka “the hidden ranch,” is the home where the program flourished, and it became known as an attraction worth visiting if you were an equestrian or horse enthusiast.

For whatever reason, the breeding program was eventually disbanded, and the ranch where the Arabians once lived fell into disuse. Skipping ahead to the present day, the hidden ranch has been fully restored by descendants of the Wrigley family (Alison Rusack, along with her husband Geoff) and has also found a new use: it’s currently home to Rusack Vineyards, a highly rated producer of Catalina-made chardonnay and pinot noir wines.

So, I guess the answer to my seemingly rhetorical question is: a vineyard!

Eager to learn more about Catalina?

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  • Linda Curry

    I wonder are there any horses left at the ranch? Funny thing is I like drinking wine with a meal but to go and sample it at a winery does nothing for me. Saying that I am going to stay at a winery in two weeks time (not my idea) so I might change my mind. Eating at a winery can be very enjoyable.

    • Laura Roberts

      I’ve never done any winery tours, although I’ve done a few “flights” at wine bars, which is nice. I do think wine is always better with complementary food! You know what would be really awesome – there’s a “writers in the vineyards” retreat with different places in the US and Canada, and if they set up something on Catalina I would definitely apply.