When it comes to romance, there is nothing better than a weekend getaway in wine country. While most people think Napa Valley has the market cornered, the Temecula Valley in Southern California is giving its better-known counterpart a run for its money.
Located about halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, Temecula is making quite a name for itself as a weekend destination for fun and romance. There is no shortage of things to do in Temecula to make it a weekend to remember — there are activities to please everyone so no matter what your interests are, you can both have fun while kindling the fires of romance.
The quaint shopping district, known as Old Town Temecula, is filled with unique stores and delectable eateries reminiscent of an Old West main street. Souvenir shops, antique stores and Western-themed boutiques are just some of the many spots that line the main drag. After you’ve built up an appetite spending money, stop in at one of the many watering holes like 1909, a trendy American Gastro Pub, with plenty of tasty food and drink offerings. They even have a menu for dogs just in case you bring your favorite furry friend along.
On the other side of town the scenery quickly drifts away from an Old West theme into a sprawling, hilly landscape filled with acres and acres devoted to growing the grapes making Temecula famous. The valley boasts more than 30 wineries ranging from ultra-modern to rustic and everything in between. Many of the wineries are family-owned and -run, giving a quaint and personal touch for visitors.
Vindemia Estate Winery is a perfect example with its unpretentious, outdoor tasting room surrounded by fresh air and vineyards. Guests can enjoy the fresh air while tasting wines with fun names like Loneliness and More Cowbell. Despite the quirky names, the wines are some of the best and are sure to impress even the pickiest connoisseurs.
Other area wineries offer a much larger-scale production, such as Callaway Winery with its modern vibe and bustling tasting room. Its outdoor patio offers stunning views of the estate and surrounding valley with live music providing a romantic backdrop. Leoness Cellars, located across the valley from Callaway, has one of the valley’s most popular tasting rooms in a beautiful, fairytale setting.
A great — not to mention safe — way to enjoy your weekend in wine country is by taking one of the many tours available. Temecula Valley Cable Car Wine Tours, also known as Jolley Trolley Tours, eliminates the need for a designated driver. The motorized San Francisco cable car picks up guests at one of several area hotels and takes them to some of the best area wineries. Have your fill of local wine at each stop while you relax and enjoy the scenery along the way.
Many of the wineries are home to world-class restaurants that use local and sustainably sourced foods in spectacular menus. Plan your wine tasting day accordingly so you can end at one of the delectable eateries such as the Restaurant at Ponte Winery. With its friendly staff and delicious variety of wines, Ponte is a great way to unwind with a fabulous meal and retire for the night in one of the plush rooms of this gorgeous boutique hotel. Grab a bottle of wine outside by a fire pit and enjoy the romance and serenity of nighttime in wine country.
Perhaps one of the most romantic ways to spend some time in Temecula is by air on one of the many hot air balloon rides. The Temecula Valley is ideal for ballooning thanks to Southern California’s near-perfect climate. With consistent weather year-round, balloon rides seldom have to be canceled. They also take advantage of one of the perks of Southern California — locals take pride in the fact that in about an hour, you can go from the desert to the mountains or the beaches. A balloon ride through this locale lets you see for miles and proves California really is a hodgepodge of environments. The beautiful valley with its gently rolling, vineyard-covered hills is surrounded by mountains with desert and beaches far off in the distance.
A Grape Escape Hot Air Balloon Adventures is a great way to experience this aerial tour through the valley. A ride through the crisp morning air high above the majestic rolling vineyards is perfectly paired with a continental breakfast and your choice of Champagne or orange juice at a local winery after the flight. Flights depart daily at sunrise, weather permitting, and private flights for two are available for an even more romantic experience.
If you want some live entertainment during your visit, plan your trip around one of the many festivals. Each summer Temecula hosts the annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, a three-day festival filled with balloon flights, beer and wine tastings and fun events for kids, not to mention plenty of food and live musical performances.
January and February host the Annual Barrel Tasting Event and the Annual Chocolate Decadence and Pechanga Wine Festival, while the fall is filled with harvest festivals and autumn fun such as the Big Horse Corn Maze, open throughout the month of October.
Temecula Valley’s natural beauty makes it an idyllic setting for outdoor activities like horseback riding, hiking or golf. If spending the day with your honey sipping wine and relaxing in beauty and luxury aren’t enough, spice up your weekend with one of these activities. Regardless of which activities you chose to fill your weekend, you will leave Temecula relaxed and satisfied — and most likely with a suitcase full of wine!