Take a sliver of Las Vegas, a sampling of Napa Valley and a taste of Tombstone; put them all together with superb weather, gorgeous scenery and excellent accessibility, and you have an idea of what awaits you in Southern California’s premier wine destination – Temecula. This burgeoning town, approximately 90 minutes south of Los Angeles and 60 minutes north of San Diego, attracts tourists from across the country and beyond with its abundance of sights, sounds and tastes.
Once a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage route, Temecula was first occupied by the Luiseno Indians who gave the area its name; the loose translation means “place of the sun.” Because of its perfect placement – it’s sheltered by the Santa Rosa Range yet receives some of the Pacific breezes – the area is a haven for grapes and a much longer growing season than other California vineyards. The history of Temecula includes occupation by the Spanish, followed by the Mexicans and massive land grants. Remnants of the Old West have been meticulously maintained in Old Town, creating another reason for tourists to visit, especially those from Japan who are so enthralled with our country’s western history.
The first real boom in the area occurred with the completion of a rail line connecting Temecula to San Diego, but it wasn’t until almost a century later that the first commercial vineyard was planted, putting the town on the map for wine aficionados. Today there are 30 wineries in the vicinity, accompanied by 300 restaurants. Many of the wines garner awards year after year, but even if travelers are not connoisseurs, they can still enjoy the magnificent scenery of the vine-covered rolling hills. Among the vineyards, a few stand out and deserve a stop: Lumiere Winery, Gershon Bachus Vintners, Miramonte/Celebration Cellars and Mount Palomar Winery.
The hills also provide an outstanding setting for adventurous visitors to view them from the air. Hot-air ballooning is a major event in Temecula and the surrounding countryside. Rides run approximately 60 to 75 minutes and can be combined with wine tasting for a scenic and tasty tour. Two companies that provide balloon adventure and wine tour specials are Magical Adventure and California Dreamin’.
Temecula is also home to quality golf, horseback riding, hiking and biking. Not far from the town center, Lake Skinner and Lake Elsinore offer anglers an opportunity to drop a line. RVers enjoying more than a day visit should check their Trailer Life RV Parks, Campgrounds & Services Directory for a list of resorts in the area. (See below for one special park.)
In addition to participating in outdoor adventures, RVers have also been known to drop a few nickels in a slot machine, and Temecula provides 3,400 slot machines for them to try their luck. Claiming to be the largest casino/resort in the state of California (and some press say the western United States), Pechanga Resort & Casino rolls out the red carpet for guests year-round with a 188,000-square-foot gaming area including 160 table games and 54 poker tables. The resort features a luxurious hotel with 517 rooms, eight restaurants, a golf course and RV parking.
The wonderful weather and stunning scenery of Temecula, the historic venues and exciting attractions, the tantalizing tastes and easy access all combine to create a perfect getaway for RVers, whether for a day or a week.
For more information, go to www.temeculacvb.com.