Temecula Valley in Southern California wine country is a great place to visit for a few or many days. Winterfest in Temecula Valley includes special events and comfortable weather.
My husband and I enjoyed a whirlwind two day visit to the area in order to sample its highlights which included wine tasting, fine dining, and a visit to Old Town.
Temecula, the center of the valley is just 60 miles north of San Diego and 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles. After a short drive from these major cities, you will find yourself among the beautiful vineyards of Southern California Wine Country.
We stayed at The scenic Temecula Creek Inn, a JC Resorts property. We were greeted warmly by the front desk personnel as we sampled fruited water and enjoyed the warmth of the fireplace in the lobby. Its restaurant recently underwent a $2.5 million dollar renovation and features inventive menu options from Executive Chef Igor Krichmar.
We enjoyed a wine-paired dinner at the Farm House Kitchen Restaurant which included many of Chef Igor’s specialties and pairings with locally produced wines.
For breakfast, they offer many healthy options, but my husband raved about the specially created Braised Short Rib Benedict - braised short rib and poached eggs on an English muffin covered with bacon-infused Hollandaise sauce.
We enjoyed a catered lunch by Extraordinary Artisan Table or E.A.T. This company features healthy food with locally grown ingredients. The company embraces and glorifies local seasonal produce and local meats and wines.
Temecula Valley is best known for its having an abundance of wineries- more than 30 so far with more planned. Its granite soil and unique microclimate featuring morning mists, warm midday sun, cooling ocean breezes and clear nights make it an ideal area for growing grapes. We sampled the wine and ambiance at three local wineries.
We visited the family owned Wilson Creek Winery where we enjoyed lunch at their Creekside Grill with menu items from local farms. We were able to observe the wine making process, visit their expanded vineyards, and of course sample the wines. This winery is well known for its almond champagne.
Steve and Valerie Andrews welcomed us to the Oak Mountain Winery where we enjoyed both wine blending classes and wine tasting. The view alone makes a visit there worthwhile. They are in the process of constructing an underground cavern to house their wine tasting and special events rooms. This is a very pet friendly spot to visit complete with doggie stations.
South Coast Winery has received the coveted California Winery of the Year award for three out of the last six years. The winery is home to a luxurious resort and spa. Their villa accommodations are in high demand. Our horse drawn carriage ride provided by the Temecula Carriage Company gave us the opportunity to enjoy the sparkling Christmas decorations on the property
Old Town Temecula is a favorite spot for enjoying specialty shopping, antique dealers, art galleries, museums, dining options, weekly Farmer’s market and special events year round. The area is compact and includes many unique shops.
We visited three specialty merchants in Old Town. Our first stop was at the Old Town Tea and Spice Merchants. This store contained an incredibly large inventory of both domestic and imported spices, teas, and coffees
The Old Town Sweet Shop brought back memories of my youth spending the pennies from my allowance in a candy store. The shop featured a display of candy bars such as “Bit of Honey” which are rarely seen today. Remember those penny candies on long strips? They were there too. Their delicious creamy ice cream is home-made.
Temecula Olive Oil Company specializes in the production of olive oil from locally grown olives. The company is in its 13th year of business and is continually developing new flavorful olive oils and olive oil products. I purchased several bars of their olive oil soap.
Winter is a great time to visit and enjoy the Winterfest which runs through February. Local weather features crisp cool mornings and warm afternoons.
The winter holiday season from November 29 to January 4 is an especially great time to visit Temecula. You can enjoy holiday carols ringing from Temecula city hall bells synchronized to lights and music from Thursday to Sunday. A 3,500 square foot ice skating rink is placed on the Town Square in Old Town Temecula during this festive time. There's a special New Year's Eve session from 10:30 pm to 1:30 am so those not enjoying the ice in their New Year's Toast can skate on it instead.
New Year's Eve features the Grape Drop Countdown. Giant illuminated grapes drop from the Civic Center clock tower with east and west coast countdowns at 9 pm and midnight. Over 80,000 people attended the celebrations last year and local folks like to compare the celebration to Vegas’ New Year's Eve.
The Pechanga Resort and Casino, the largest casino in the West includes a multitude of AAA 4-Diamond amenities and services and offers an extensive list of special events and celebrations.
Why visit Temecula Valley? Wine, wine, and wine would be at the top of the list. Wine tasting, wine purchasing and wine drinking. Many of the wineries offer tours where you can witness the wine making process first-hand. Championship Golf courses and hot air balloon companies are located throughout the area. Shopping in Old Town is a pleasure in a compact space housing unique stores. Dining options run from the standards to unique eateries and many feature award winning chefs. The beauty of the country-side is reason enough to drive in and enjoy Temecula Valley in California. Find out more at Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau And then, go and enjoy.
PS – Ever wonder what to do with the wine corks. Here are some ideas.
Photos by Dianne Davis or Burt Davis