Local’s Guide to Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival

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The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival offers a feast for the senses, from inspiring and romantic views of hot air balloons high above the ground to eclectic food and wine pairings, wine and microbrew tastings, and a wealth of gourmet cuisine. Live music adds to the excitement, scheduled for May 29-31 at Lake Skinner.

Since its inaugural celebration in 1984, this has become a must-do social event, attracting more than 40,000 attendees to the annual three-day Festival.

Festival organizers have announced some layout and schedule changes designed to improve the guest experience. Overflow camping has been switched with the area previously used for overflow parking to prevent traffic congestion experienced in the past. Also, event and concert start times will be staggered, so that the Evening Balloon Glow and main headliner concerts start and end at distinctly different times. 

Rocking Out, Country-Style

Headlining the weekend’s entertainment this year is the rock band Daughtry, named for lead singer and guitarist Chris Daughtry, a vastly popular “American Idol” finalist who’s gone on to win four American Music Awards and sell more than eight million albums. Daughtry headlines the Rocking Wine Country Saturday concert lineup, with Grammy-nominated country signer Chris Young featured on Sunday on the Pechanga Main Stage.

General admission to the Festival includes general admission to all concerts.

Hot-Air Balloon Launches, Tethers, and Glows

Early mornings on Saturday and Sunday are the appointed times to fly away (weather permitting). Balloon launches take place at 6:30 a.m., returning at 8:30 a.m. Rides must be reserved in advance by calling 1-800-965-2122.

For those less willing to soar high above the scenic Festival, there are free tethered balloon rides, lasting about two hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. You get the exhilarating experience of a balloon ride (approximately 50-75 feet in the air) without the commitment of two hours free of earth’s gravitational pull. Festival organizers strongly encourage attendees to line up early for this event.

At sunset on Friday and Saturday, bring a glass (or bottle) of your favorite wine and come see the Festival’s spectacular Evening Balloon Glow. Watch these hot-air balloons inflate their burners and light up the evening sky. You can walk up to the balloon baskets, chat with the pilots and ground crews, and observe first-hand as a brilliant yellow flame shoots up into the balloon itself. Not to be missed!

Book tickets and get more information about the hot-air balloon rides.

Wine and Beer Pairings Galore

temecula-food-wine-pairing
Source: Let’s Play OC

Pairings (each at an additional charge) offer the opportunity to experience the Temecula Valley’s finest wines and beers, as well as a mouth-watering three or four-course culinary masterpiece.

At the Food & Wine Pairings, each course includes a complimentary glass of a local premium wine, together with a short narrative and answers to your questions by wine experts. Executive chefs prepare the elegant cuisine, while sharing “insider” tips and ingredients.

At the Beer & Food Pairings, each recipe comes with a different craft beer. These beer and food pairings are created by American Federation of Culinary Arts chefs and include recipes featuring beer as an ingredient.

Mark your calendars for the wine and beer tastings and be sure to reserve your tickets for either or both events.

While you’re in Temecula for the Festival, why not explore the neighboring wineries? Here are some recommended wineries (look here for a full list of Festival-recommended wineries): 

  • Beach House Winery – Featuring the 2012 Viognier, a highly aromatic white wine, aged for six months in French oak.
  • Canyon Crest Winery – A boutique winery boasting the Vidal Ice Wine, made from grapes allowed to freeze on the vine.
  • Emerald Creek Winery – Offering premium artisan wines, including a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2013 White Riesling.
  • Lorimar Vineyards and Winery – Featuring hand-made specials such as a 2013 Muscat Canelli and a 2012 Quintet Red Wine Blend.
  • Thornton Winery – Using the Méthode Champenoise process to make fine quality sparkling wines and champagne.

Your Choice of Lodging

There’s plenty of comfortable lodging in and around Temecula. Festival organizers recommend these hotels and rentals: 

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, check for available camping reservations on the Festival grounds or stay at one of many nearby campgrounds, including:

Admission Essentials

Here’s what you need to know about admissions to the 2015 Temecula Balloon & Wine Festival:

General Admission (includes admission to all concerts):

  • Online – Friday $23, Saturday $25, Sunday $18
  • Juniors 6-12 $5
  • Children 5 and under FREE
  • Weekend Combo: $50.00, (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) available online only
  • Sunday GATE ONLY: Active Military Discount $10, with military ID
  • At the gate: Friday $25, Saturday $30, Sunday $20, juniors 6-12 $5, children 5 and under FREE
  • Balloon Launch Special $10 Saturday and Sunday only, 6:00-9:00 a.m. (restrictions apply)

It’s not too late to register for this unique, once-a-year wine, culinary and mind-blowing atmospheric event. To learn more, visit tvbwf.com.