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Photo Credit: Al Lago Wines

Featured Article

Discovering Santa Rosa Valley: A Hidden Gem Offering Many Treasures

“Slow down and enjoy the valley” welcomes a sign along Santa Rosa Road as people enter the scenic Santa Rosa Valley. This reminder to take it slower reflects the relaxed mentality of the peaceful, verdant valley, a little piece of paradise—about 5 miles long (east to west) and 2 miles wide (north to south)—tucked into a rural, unincorporated area between the cities of Moorpark, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks.

The area’s 3,000-some residents include celebrities, Olympic gold medalists, world boxing champions, and successful philanthropically minded people from all walks of life, who cherish their community for its rustic charm, majestic greenery, breathtaking scenery, open-field farming, large plots of land, hiking paths, beautiful houses and incredible neighbors, to name just a few of their reasons for calling it home.

“You get the feel of living in the country, but you have proximity to all the resources that you ever need,” says SRV resident and CEO of St. John’s Camarillo Hospital, Darren Lee. Darren and his family moved to Santa Rosa Valley in 2015, drawn by the picturesque valley’s beauty, weather—“a little bit warmer than Camarillo, but a little cooler than Thousand Oaks”—and ideal location.

Secluded, while still central to everywhere you want to go, Santa Rosa Valley allows Darren “to escape a little bit from the busy workday that you have and the congestion of the other areas,” improving his quality of life and wellbeing.

Fellow SRV resident Joe Markiewicz, a Coldwell Banker Realty realtor, agrees that Santa Rosa Valley’s unique geography adds to the area’s appeal.

“The close location of Santa Rosa Valley to the city and the value of its homes make it a hidden gem in Southern California,” says Joe, who grew up in the community. In addition to “beautiful views and great neighbors, I love the lot size of area homes and privacy. I think what you get for the money is amazing,” he notes.

Prime Real Estate

Santa Rosa Valley is known for its multimillion-dollar luxury properties and spacious lots surrounded by nature and offering more privacy than in most neighboring areas. Many residents have small farms or horse property. The area’s most knowledgeable real estate expert who has been the top-selling agent in Santa Rosa Valley since 1989, Rosemary Allison, the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Estates Director in Santa Rosa Valley since 1988, thrives on sharing her love and knowledge of this unique locale with others. Rosemary is known for launching her exclusive listings to a global audience with discretion, taste and visionary marketing.

“I love being able to help clients realize their dreams and doing the right thing for them,” says Rosemary. “I represent the finest homes that are offered in Santa Rosa Valley and am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to make a difference in so many of the lives of the clients and friends who have entrusted me to help them realize their dream of homeownership—there’s nothing more rewarding than that,” she says, sharing her fortune at finding her own cherished home in this very special enclave decades ago.

Years ago, while assisting a client sell an Agoura Hills home to move to a new house in Santa Rosa Valley, Rosemary discovered her first home in Santa Rosa Valley that she purchased in the Bridlewood development.

“I was looking at the brochure for the development and I thought it looked really good!” she recalls. “It was a new home development, and I signed up the next day and after camping out for 3 weeks was one of the very lucky ones to get one of the houses in the next phase of the development!” Moving to the area in 1987, Rosemary raised her three children in Santa Rosa Valley, where they attended the acclaimed Santa Rosa Technology Magnet School.

The TK-8 school combines a comprehensive technology-focused curriculum with whole-child development, drawing students from near and far due to its outstanding reputation. The school boasts a STEM lab, technology center and middle school electives plus enrichment opportunities in dance, art, music and STEM. Family engagement and activities help create a unique and positive school culture that includes a middle school sports program, an outdoor science camp, band, cross grade-level mentoring, student government and more. As a proud parent of successful alumni, Rosemary continues to support education and programs at SRTMS.

“I am still the largest contributor financially to Santa Rosa School, as a private individual donating money every year for their programs,” says Rosemary, adding that she’s been called Santa Rosa Valley Technology Magnet Schools “godmother” for the more than 30 years that she has provided financial support to the school.

With deep connections and established roots in the area, Rosemary aspires to help people achieve their real estate goals, whether finding a home in Santa Rosa Valley or helping potential sellers stage their home to realize its highest potential. Connecting with clients and their families is the best part of her career, she says.

“It brings me great joy to say that I have represented many clients in buying their first homes after having represented their parents decades before when they purchased their family home. I measure my success one family at a time,” she adds.  

Longtime Santa Rosa Valley resident Ruth Means recalls how a conversation with Rosemary many years ago convinced her and her husband, Ron, to move to the area, where they settled for the next 40 years. Prompted to contact the top realtor in town after visiting a coworker’s SRV home, Ruth, who was a Westlake Elementary School teacher at the time and had never been to Santa Rosa Valley despite living nearby for more than 20 years, asked Rosemary about the quality of the local schools and what it was like living in Santa Rosa Valley. 

During that call, “Rosemary convinced me that everything is great here, and I ended up moving [there]. Rosemary and I became [Girl Scout] Brownie Leaders together 3 months later, and the rest is history!” says Ruth, pointing to the local climate, beautiful trail system, rural setting and strong sense of community as some of the many benefits the area offers. 

“I was stunned when I first came down what’s called the ‘Norwegian Grade’ and found this jewel of a climate,” remembers Ruth. “I was shocked and stunned to find an area with trails, wilderness, wild animals and wonderful people and homes.”

Now retired and living in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, Ruth and Ron fondly describe their former stomping grounds as having everything they could ever imagine. 

Happy Trails

If she could teleport through space and time, Ruth says the one destination she would choose to go is to the Santa Rosa Valley trails.

“You walk those trails…the water gurgling, the oak trees…oh God! You and your horse just strolling along. And if you do meet somebody on the trail, they’re nice and they’re happy people. And you might see a coyote or a bobcat… And that is Santa Rosa Valley to me,” says Ruth.

The area’s numerous beautiful trails welcome outdoor enthusiasts of all ages to hike, bike or explore on horseback. 

“We love the wide-open spaces and the rolling hills that take us to our hikes and walks around the area,” says SRV resident Paula Cornell, founder of the nonprofit organization For the Troops.

Giving Back

Those taking the Shooting Star Trail will notice the cleared debris and can take a rest seated on a brand-new bench, thanks to Eagle Scout Luke Purmer.

“Our community is pretty rural; it’s pretty close, and I’ve gotten a bunch out of my community, especially the trails [for] hiking and jogging around. [So] I felt like I should give back to most of the hikers there … and just have a nice place to sit and overlook the valley. You can actually see from Simi Valley all the way to the Channel Islands on a clear day,” says Luke, a lifelong resident of Santa Rosa Valley and a Boy Scout since age 12.

Luke installed the bench for his Eagle Scout Service Project for Troop 787. The project requires Boy Scouts to demonstrate leadership while conducting a project benefiting a religious institution, school or community. In addition to earning merit badges and obtaining confirmation from a committee, this accomplishment enabled Luke to receive the rank of Eagle Scout.

The Thousand Oaks High School senior took initiative in leading this project, and he also credits community members with helping this project become a reality, including Santa Rosa Valley Trails Inc. President and Founder Mark Burley, John Kross and Park Ranger Ryan Stead.

“I probably learned the most [about] leadership and the importance of preparation ... not micromanaging, making sure everyone has defined tasks, communicating with everyone and making sure everybody is happy and satisfied [so they can] stay motivated,” says Luke.

Luke hopes his Eagle Project will inspire others to explore Santa Rosa Valley’s beautiful hiking trails and encourage more trail work.

Santa Rosa Valley Trails Inc.

The Shooting Star Trail is one of two (along with the Lower Santa Rosa Trail) trails recently adopted through the Santa Rosa Valley Trails Inc. Adopt-A-Trail Program, aimed at expanding access for all users.

The nonprofit, formed in 2004, exists to “plan, create, acquire and maintain multiuse nonmotorized trails for public use in the Santa Rosa Valley and surrounding areas and to provide connections to other trails or recreational facilities.” 

Offering a “way for property owners to donate easements that will be maintained and insured by the charity in perpetuity,” says Mark, protects the area’s extensive network of trails that run through the Santa Rosa Valley and connect to Wildwood Park.

“The purpose of creating Santa Rosa Valley Trails Inc. was to create an entity which would be able to take easements on private land, maintain the trails, ensure the trails, so that all of the trail connections in Santa Rosa Valley would remain open,” Mark explains. “What tends to happen when development goes on is that when a place gets developed, a lot of times, the trails that have been there for decades or generations tend to get cut off. When that happens, that's really bad for the equestrian community because you can’t ride your horse around the valley,” he notes.

Community Commitment

Along with its mild climate, prime real estate and scenic trails, Santa Rosa Valley is home to a tight-knit active community of caring, friendly neighbors.

“This is definitely a beautiful area, and people have the flexibility to have their animals, their horses and things, and a little more space,” says Darren Lee. “But at the end of the day, as important as that is, it’s my neighbors that really sets it apart—the neighbors that I have next door to me, the neighbors that I have in the neighborhood, the neighbors that are down the street in the next neighborhood. Everyone in Santa Rosa Valley is very kind and generous, and they’re just great people to have as neighbors,” he says, adding, “They care about the community, they take care of it, and if they see something that needs to be addressed, people are comfortable speaking up and willing to engage to fix it, whether it be an issue on the road, or if a neighbor needs help with something. I always see neighbors helping each other with different things. I’ve been the beneficiary of lots of help in my home. I just think those types of things are very valuable,” Darren emphasizes.   

Committed to the well-being of the community, many residents support nonprofit organizations and various causes. Realtor Rosemary Allison’s philanthropic endeavors—including raising funds for the American Cancer Society, the YMCA and For the Troops, where she serves as a board member—led to her being named the California Legislative Women's Caucus 2020 Women of the Year. The County of Ventura Board of Supervisors proclaimed in a Resolution to honor her that “Rosemary Allison is the yarn that weaves this close-knit community together, setting an example for residents of all ages on how an individual can work to change the world for the better.”

Healthy Investment

Among the region’s numerous nonprofits are Ventura County Sheriffs Foundation and St. John’s Camarillo Hospital, founded in 1974 as St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital by a group of Camarillo community leaders and physicians who believed the growing area needed a nearby hospital. Besides providing acute-care services, the Camarillo hospital also houses a specialized respiratory care unit, operates a hyperbaric medicine and wound care center, and offers comprehensive emergency care. In the past few years, SJHC has boasted some new additions to its facilities. 

“[SJHC] just finished a couple years ago an $80 billion upgrade where we got some new operating rooms, a catheterization lab, and 50 new patient rooms. And we also upgraded our emergency rooms,” says Darren, who serves as CEO of SJHC and St. John’s Regional Medical Center, its sister hospital in nearby Oxnard. Both hospitals are run by Dignity Health, the largest not-for-profit hospital provider in the state of California that also functions as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation. As a “not-for-profit, mission-driven community hospital,” its profits benefit the community. 

“It’s not privately held. No one owns the company; there’s no stockholders or shareholders. We have a board. The revenue gets invested into the communities that we serve,” Lee explains. 

SJHC plays an important role in the Santa Rosa Valley Community, as it is the only geriatric-certified emergency room in the area and is located about 10 minutes away from most residents. Proximity to a nearby hospital with top-notch care is a “great thing to have,” says Darren, noting that the majority of the hospital’s volunteers are Santa Rosa Valley residents, and their eagerness to serve the community greatly enhances the care that patients receive.

“I love that I have neighbors in the community that volunteer at the hospital. I love to be able to provide great health care to my neighbors. When I go to the hospital or someone in my family goes to the hospital, that’s the hospital they go to,” says Darren.

Santa Rosa Valley Municipal Advisory Council

Community members also enjoy participating in civic duties by serving on the Santa Rosa Valley Municipal Advisory Council, a group of five elected council members who speak for area residents when the group meets with the Board of Supervisors for Ventura County.

Chaired by Rosemary Allison, the Council comprises four additional members: Michael Adams, Mark Burley, Kevin Cannon (Vice Chair) and Amy Elliott. Each member serves a 4-year term, and the five Council seats are elected in a tiered fashion, with three seats voted on one year, and the other two seats voted on two years later. As the liaison between the residents and Ventura County officials, the Santa Rosa Valley Municipal Advisory Council serves an integral role in the community. 

“We are there to advise the Board of Supervisors about what issues are important to the residents of Santa Rosa Valley,” explains Mark.

Good Fun

SRV locals enjoy frequently getting together to socialize and raise funds for a good cause, says Lori Donnelly, owner of Wolf Creek Wellness.

“We have consistently been growing and loving it here,” says Lori, who along with her husband, Michael, has made the Valley home for 27 years.

“We love feeling like we contribute within the equestrian community in the valley. Prior to COVID, we would have large Halloween parties or anniversary parties and invite the community to come. We have even hosted a comedy night where all proceeds went to Casa Pacifica.”

The couple initially purchased a 1918 cottage off Duval Road in ’94 before purchasing the land that is currently Wolf Creek Valley Ranch.

“It was all strawberry fields here when we purchased it in 2005, and we started converting it to a horse-boarding facility around 2008,” says Lori, who offers a wellness program to promote well-being. “We offer Reiki, massage, Hypnotherapy, sound baths and other holistic types of healing. This, combined with the animals on the property, makes for a very serene and lovely healing atmosphere.”

From 2011 to 2017, Kimme Black organized the No Place Like Hope Family Picnic and Hoedown to raise funds for horse rescue organizations while bringing the community together.

As a little girl who loved Knott’s Berry Farm and its horses, Kimme says once she learned “how uncertain horse’s lives are,” she resolved to help them.

“When the community comes together, it makes it stronger, it makes it safer and it brings comfort to each other,” says Kimme, noting that more than a fundraiser, the event aimed to “protect those that are helpless and innocent as we give to each other friendship and safety.”

More than 2,000 people turned out in support of the enormously successful event, featuring Wyatt McCrae as the Master of Ceremonies, phenomenal performances, and local vendors of food and wares.

Recalling fond memories of the events, Kimme is grateful for recently celebrating 15 years of living in this special community.

“It’s natural, it’s beautiful, it’s not overdone, the people are lovely and my dream my whole life long was to have a horse. I got my own first horse at age 42,” she shares, adding, “my second dream come true was to have a piece of property to have my horses with me. I feel really lucky, and really blessed to have been able to achieve that enormous dream.”

Al Lago Wines

Enjoying the fruits of the vine is another local pleasure, and Al Lago Wines tops the list of favorite wineries, as their grapes are grown right here in the Santa Rosa Valley vineyard. Founded in 2008 by Simone Lagomarsino and Blair Allan, who started out planting a small 300-vine vineyard on their property, Al Lago Wines has grown to almost 3,000 vines that produce a variety of grape varietals for their highly sought-after wines that showcase the terroir of the Santa Rosa Valley.

Passionate about the pursuit of excellence in winemaking permeated by a philosophy to care for every detail, Blair and Simone insist on quality in every step of the process, including soil testing before planting. They were thrilled when the results of soil samples sent to a world-renowned lab in France forecasted success for their future winemaking, as the native soil of the Santa Rosa Valley showcased the limestone, clay and micronutrients of some of the best wine regions in the world, says Blair.

Locals look forward to Santa Rosa Valley winetasting events being reinstated soon, and in the meantime, wine enthusiasts can taste Al Lago Wines’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sangiovese and other Italian varietals at their Paso Robles tasting room (480-B Marquita Avenue) by appointment and via With a limited production of less than 400 cases annually, Al Lago Wines is laser focused on quality from the vineyard to the wine glass, earning accolades from Wine Advocate, Vinous and Wine Enthusiast for their great-tasting wines.

Timeless Treasure

Santa Rosa Valley residents cherish this very special place on Earth, where time seems a little slower, neighbors a little friendlier, and life is a lot more pleasant in this peaceful paradise they are happy to call home.

  • Luke Purmer’s Eagle Scout Project, Troop 787
  • Luke Purmer’s Eagle Scout Project, Troop 787
  • Luke Purmer’s Eagle Scout Project, Troop 787
  • Luke Purmer’s Eagle Scout Project, Troop 787
  • Photo Credit: Lena Lenham
  • Rosemary and Mark Burley, co-sponsors of the Ole Fashion Pie auction and fellow board members. Photo Credit: Judi Bumstead
  • Rosemary and Jim Allison Photo Credit: Judi Bumstead
  • Rosemary Allison with Claudia Bill de La Pena, Mayor of thousand Oaks  Photo Credit: Judi Bumstead
  • Rosemary Allison with Wyatt McCrea whose grandfather donated his property to Conejo Valley Park District - McCrea Foundation  Photo Credit: Judi Bumstead
  • Photo Credit: Lena Lanum
  • Photo Credit: Lena Lanum
  • Photo Credit: Lena Lanum
  • Photo Credit: Lena Lanum
  • Photo Credit: Lena Lanum
  • Photo Credit: Lena Lanum
  • Photo Credit: Al Lago Wines
  • Photo Credit: Al Lago Wines
  • Photo Credit: Al Lago Wines
  • Photo Credit: Al Lago Wines
  • Photo Credit: Al Lago Wines
  • Blair Allen, Al Lago Wines
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black
  • Photo Credit: Kimme Black