Valley Center

People Behaving Badly — Summer Edition

Summer and its joys of passage are among us. People are frolicking. Pools are swimming. Snoballs and softballs are popping. Good stuff, but consider the fact that rust never sleeps. People are going to do what people are going to do. For your consideration then, the dark underbelly of the human condition. The Grapevine is, er, proud (?) to present the seasonal summer edition of…


Memories of Pikake Gardens

Its gates are forever locked. The koi have died. A lonesome breeze blows through faded gardens overgrown with weeds. The waterfalls have ceased falling and even the roses have faded into wilted dreams. Welcome to Pikake Botanical Gardens at 15515 Villa Sierra Road, once one of the wonders of the horticultural world, now reduced to ashes and memories. A private botanical garden on nine acres,…


Pastor hikes road to glory with heavy cross

Pastor Wes Mauch took a road less traveled through Valley Center, carrying a 38-pound wooden cross, a well-worn Bible and message all the way to Rancho Santa Fe. Mauch, 66, walked along the side of Cole Grade Road, wooden cross on his shoulder and all, “doing what Jesus asked me to do,” he said while vehicular traffic whizzed by as if he were invisible. When…



Milk, cow manure, and beer trucks

Lessons from the Last Surviving San Diego Dairy “My family has always been in the dairy business. It’s a…different sort of business,” laughs Frank Konyn of Frank Konyn Dairy. Established in 1962 by his father, Konyn’s 250-acre dairy farm is nestled on the San Pasqual Valley floor 35 miles northeast of downtown San Diego. With over 800 cows, he estimates his monthly feed bill to…


‘Round town: Hercules, low gas, and murder

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s at Valley Center History Museum The January birthdate of famed actor-bodybuilder Steve Reeves is being remembered at the Valley Center History Museum which has a collection of the late star’s memorabilia. Known internationally as the winner of every major bodybuilding competition as as the star of “Hercules” and 17 other motion pictures, Reeves is little-known as a rancher…


Climate change challenges San Diego farms

Facing the heat of global warming, farmers in San Diego are trying to survive and build resilience through practice—and are pushing policymakers to keep up. At Pauma Valley, a flat stretch of crop- and rangelands at the base of the Palomar Mountains in North San Diego County, July is usually a month of hot weather and raucous growth—with lemons, avocados, blackberries, and peppers all flourishing….


HiCaliber Horse Rescue bites the dust

HiCaliber Horse Rescue, which has faced animal cruelty and fraud allegations for months, is being evicted from its Valley Center ranch and sued for more than $4 million. Brenda Markstein filed the lawsuit in Vista Superior Court on Nov. 26, alleging damage to the property, breach of contract and negligence. The suit names HiCaliber and its founders, Michelle Knuttila and Romney Snyder. The Brenda Markstein…


Henry Avocado on the road again, not that far

Henry Avocado Corp. has moved its headquarters, packing and distribution center in Escondido, CA, to a new building in a nearby industrial center. The 50,000-square-foot two-story facility in Escondido is 20 percent larger than the previous site and features the latest processing, refrigeration and forced-air ripening elements in the industry. The new Henry operation consolidates under one roof the administrative and processing machinery and personnel…


Prohibition history — Valley Center Museum

Prohibition, which banned alcohol for 13 years starting in 1920, is being remembered at the History Museum in Valley Center where an area store was issued one of three original alcohol licenses awarded in San Diego County to sell beer on the first day it was legal in 1933. The display commemorates the 85th anniversary of the end of the booze ban on December 5, 1933.  …