Temecula Valley wine country, California
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Erle Stanley Gardner wrote many of his Perry Mason books in Temecula where he lived for 33 years.
- The slot machine count at Pechanga Resort and Casino beats the largest Vegas casino by more than 1,000.
- The Mission San Juan Capistrano padres were the first to plant wine grapes in Temecula Valley (1820).
- Cattle ranching was the backbone of the Temecula Valley economy until the 1960s.
- The on-site bakery at Pechanga Resort and Casino makes about 10,000 cookies daily.
Wine touring on horseback
Temecula, a city of around 100,000 people, sits at the west end of the relatively young Temecula Valley wine region in Southern California. The city, only 22 miles over the Coastal Mountain Range from the Pacific, is about 90 minutes’ driving time south of Los Angeles and 60 minutes north of San Diego.
As to the wine region, it is a designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) of 33,000 acres, and it is home to more than 40 wineries. The first commercial vineyard was planted in 1968, and the first winery founded in 1974. Growers cultivate more than 40 varietals, producing a wide range of red and white wines.
Temecula Valley’s climate is warm and sunny, with cooling breezes. It’s an area of rolling hills, with a backdrop of mountains surrounding the valley. This combination of climate and terrain that suits the grapes also invites visitors to a range of outdoor activities, from biking and hiking to golfing and flying high in a hot-air balloon.
The wineries host tastings and food pairings in settings ranging from the simple to the posh. Many operate restaurants, sponsor summer concert series and/or offer wine appreciation and other classes. Wine lovers can organize self-guided tasting tours, but guided tours let someone else do the driving, and transport, whether by limo, carriage or horseback, can be part of the fun.
In town, the city’s Downtown Old Town Temecula is its historic heart and today’s arts, shopping, dining and entertainment area. It is a pedestrian-friendly 12-block neighborhood that provides the setting for many of Temecula’s festivals and other special events. It also houses in-town wine tasting sites, allowing for a wine tasting tour on foot.
The Temecula Valley tourist destination includes another element, the upscale Pechanga Resort and Casino, situated on the Pechanga Reservation south of the city of Temecula. It is California’s largest resort casino, and it is Temecula Valley’s largest employer with 4,000 staffers. It rounds out the area’s choices for golf, spa services, restaurants and nighttime entertainment.
Things to do for Venturers
- Soak up the atmosphere at some altitude, viewing the valley from a hot-air balloon.
- Hear jazz at the MERC, Temecula’s historic 1891 Mercantile Building.
- Bring your treasured old rod to the Temecula Rod Run, a March weekend that attracts hundreds of pre-1974 vehicles and around 20,000 auto enthusiasts.
- Do your hiking at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.
- Get into the jam sessions during the Old Town Temecula Bluegrass Festival, held in March.
- Join a wine appreciation or other learning session at any of several wineries offering the option. Attend a wine festival. There are several.
Things to do for Centrics
- In summer, attend the Pechanga Pow Wow, hosted at the Pechanga Resort and Casino.
- Add an olive oil tasting session to your itinerary.
- Get some culture at the Art Gallery at Temecula Civic Center or at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater.
- May is the time for fun, tasting the chili and ducking when “bank robbers” come to town during the Old Town Temecula Western Days and Chili Cookoff.
- Several wineries offer summer afternoon or evening wine-and-live-music events. Consider this example: the Thornton Winery Champagne Jazz series, available May through October.
- Leave the driving to others. Take a guided wine tasting tour to a selection of wineries. Take this tour on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage.
Things to do for Authentics
- Find your way along the Old Town Temecula Tasting Trail, featuring wines as well as artisan foods, in Temecula. But, on another day, take a of meal at a winery restaurant.
- Throw the dice at the Pechanga Casino.
- Give your irons a workout at the Journey at Pechanga. Or, look for other choices on the Temecula Wine Country Golf Trail.
- Take the kids to Pennypickle’s Workshop Children’s Museum in Temecula.
- Spend quality time walking historic Old Town Temecula. Also, include time inside the Temecula Valley History Museum.
- Book a resort and use its spa, too. Choices include the Pechanga Resort and Casino on the Indian reservation and the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, at the winery.
For more information, consult Visit Temecula Valley at www.visittemeculavalley.com