On a recent visit to California a quick trip to wine country was a “must do” on the itinerary. We’ve all heard of Napa Valley and Sonoma but this time we visited the beautiful area called TEMECULA VALLEY. What’s different about this particular wine country is that it truly caters to families. It’s a real gem that offers world-class wineries and tourists are discovering this super friendly hotspot that is perfectly situated for a day trip.
Be sure to venture into OLD TOWN TEMECULA for its quaint shops, antique stores and art galleries. We just so happen to be in the area when they were celebrating “Western Days” . This annual weekend long event takes you back to the golden days of cowboys with big moustaches and big guns and the women dressed elegantly saunter along the boulevard under parasols. It’s a fun time to visit –you’d think you have just stepped into a scene from the Old Western movie! By the way, it’s the locals who get into character and recreate scenes of a high-noon shootouts and bank robberies.
On any other day, you’ll enjoy poking into the shops and visiting locals who are passionate about this town they call home. You get the feeling that TEMECULA is on the verge of getting more recognition as investors are flocking to build up the area. In fact, as we visited the stunning vineyard of EUROPA VILLAGE WINERY (www.europavillage.com) where we were told that a multi-million dollar plan is in the works to expand the property to accommodate the demand of more resort, spa, and event spaces. They currently have a resort on the grounds and its popularity is no surprise as guests book well in advance for the coveted scenery and variety of wine, of course.
WHAT TO SEE & DO:
This stunning vineyard along TEMECULA’s De Portola Wine Trail was host to a posh wedding the night we were there having dinner. As if the backdrop wasn’t drool worthy enough, the bridal party was stunning — as if someone had transplanted a bit of Beverly Hills into the country with the endless parade of stylish and beautiful people.
LEONESS reminds me of France with it’s sprawling land and rolling hills. It’s elegant yet unhurried. The word leoness means “village of dreams” and the winery was founded by two friends in 2003. Since then, their family run-business continues to grow and attract visitors from around the world. The staff was friendly at this upscale restaurant and the setting was lovely. Wine tours and samplings are available daily.
Pennypickle’s Workshop is Temecula’s Children’s Museum. It’s like stepping into the most amazing and world of every day science but presented in a magical and curious way. There’s so much to see, do and touch. Kids will love entering their magical hidden doorways and passage ways in Professor Pennypickle’s home. They will discover cool inventions and gadgets as they learn while they play. It’s 7500 square feet of imagination and fun. By the way, Pennypickle’s Workshop is the winner of the 2010 Nickelodeon’s Parents’ Picks Award for “Best Museum”
OLD TOWN ROOTBEER COMPANY
Whether you drink pop (or soda) or not, it’s fun to visit this shop that must have the largest collection of bottled sweetness. There are literally hundreds of sodas that are available for purchase. Some of the oddest too! Um…bacon soda? Why not! I had to pick one up for my son who actually wants to try it! The family owned shop also micro brews their own root beer that can be sampled and purchased as well as their famous Root Beer BBQ sauce.
HOT AIR BALLOON ADVENTURE WITH A GRAPE ESCAPE
An early morning rise is worth it especially if you plan on that “once in a lifetime” chance to go hot air ballooning in TEMECULA. You’re in good hands with the team at A GRAPE ESCAPE as they monitor wind conditions and temperatures to gauge where lift off will occur. The morning meeting point (and coffee awaits!) at Europa Village Winery. Balloon Adventurers will then be driven to the launching point and watch the massive balloons inflate. Climb into the “basket” that holds about 12 people and float up effortlessly to the clouds to get a breathtaking view of the valley. Once you have your heads out of the clouds and land back on earth you’ll share in the traditional Champagne welcome back ritual. The tradition started in France (late 1700s) where balloon pilots would have landed often in unknown fields. They would offer the land owner champagne as a gesture of thanks and hope that they wouldn’t be attacked. Today, hot air ballooners continue the tradition and toast their experience. Just be sure to dress appropriately for this journey as there is just no elegant way to climb out of the basket!
TEMECULA OLIVE OIL COMPANY
Tastings don’t just happen in wineries here! You’ll want to visit the TEMECULA OLIVE OIL COMPANY in Old Town. Here you can awaken your taste buds to the incredible variety of oils made with 100% California grown olives. Because the climate here is similar to the Mediterranean, the olive fruit is every bit as luscious as the European counterparts. This company is passionate about their products from olives to oils to natural skin care products. Many of their flavours are unique so you’ll want to make room in your suitcase to bring some home!
WHERE TO EAT:
There are tons of great restaurants and cafes in TEMECULA. You’ll want to visit MAD MADELINES (www.madmadelinesgrill.com) known for their award-winning fresh burgers (21 different ones to choose from) and make sure you leave space for their old fashioned milkshakes and root beer floats!
For a good old-fashioned steak & seafood house, you can’t beat the THE GAMBLING COWBOY (www.gamblingcowboy.com) perched on the third floor in the heart of the town you’ll want to hunker down on traditional rib-eye or prime rib with all the fixins. Or enjoy a bowl of mussels and a side of fries! The service is friendly and the portions are huge. Local bands play in the background while you enjoy the ambience of a high class saloon that gives you a taste of their southern California hospitality.
WHERE TO STAY:
You could easily enjoy TEMECULA as a day trip but if you’re not in a hurry it would be worth it to stay a night at one of the vineyard resorts. But make sure you book in advance as the scenic spots are very popular. There is also a very comfortable Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites (www.marriott.com) that is perfectly situated within minutes to the new Pechanga Casino (www.pechanga.com) and Old Town Temecula. This hotel includes a hot & cold buffet breakfast… a saving grace for families with little ones or teens with big appetites!
TEMECULA VALLEY is located less than 60 miles north of San Diego and 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles. It is in the heart of California’s south coast wine region. It’s unique micro-climate makes it an ideal spot for vineyards. There are many events and festivals that happen in this region throughout the year. With over 35 wineries to visit be sure to bring the family! A few of the wineries are open to families allowing them to bring their own picnic baskets and enjoy the grounds.
For more information, visit http://www.temeculacvb.com/
This post is not sponsored nor was I compensated. All opinions are my own.