Temecula Valley is an exciting and rapidly growing wine region in the heart of Southern California. Located just an hour outside of San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, and Palm Springs, and about 90 minutes from Los Angeles, this wine- and sunshine-soaked destination was named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Top Ten Wine Destinations in the World in 2019.
While Temecula Valley is a must-visit destination year-round, offering a warm Mediterranean climate and plenty to do, it’s a particularly popular place in the summer months. From wine tasting to golf, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite fun things to do in this SoCal hot spot.
As Southern California’s premier wine destination, a visit to Temecula wouldn’t be complete without at least a day touring the 50 or so wineries that dot the region. From small, family-owned to lavish and amenities-driven, wineries of all shapes and sizes populate three main wine trails in Temecula. Each is easy to access, and promises delicious wines produced from a dizzying number of different grape varieties, immersive tasting experiences, and warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable staff who can take you on the wine journey of your choosing.
Swirl bright and aromatic whites and funky red blends on the stunning tasting room patio of the Persian-themed Fazeli Cellars. Sip a wide range of expertly-crafted méthode Champenoise sparkling wines and still bottlings at Thornton Winery, or enjoy the wines of South Coast Winery, recently named the Golden State Winery of the Year by the California State Fair for the fifth time – more than any other winery in the history of the competition. Become winemaker for a day at Bottaia Winery’s blending lab, where you can create your own custom wine, from blend to bottle (and label design!) to take home, and then relax with a glass of your creation by their on-site sparkling pool after all your hard work. Lastly, cool off while you sip wine in The Cave at Oak Mountain Winery, Southern California’s first and only subterranean mined wine cave that sits 104 feet below ground.
Soak up those sips at one of the many winery restaurants in the region. Nosh on rustic Italian fare over delicious wines made from classic Italian grape varieties on the patio at Mama Rosa’s Trattoria at Robert Renzoni Vineyards, and take in views of the rolling Temecula hills that make you feel like you could very well be in Tuscany.
For an upscale dining experience, book at table at Leoness Cellars, offering seasonally-driven California cuisine paired with elegant wines that speak to the immense potential of Temecula terroir, in a stylish, contemporary setting. Prefer something more casual? Grab a delicious Italian or meatball sub, pizza, or salad at Sangio’s Deli at Cougar Winery, or head to Maurice Car’rie Winery for their world-famous sourdough brie – oozy, gooey, molten cheese served in a crusty, garlicky sourdough bread bowl.
Work off all that wine with a few rounds of golf. Temecula offers several premier golf courses that feature meticulously maintained greens, water features, elevation changes, creeks, and landscaped grounds perfectly integrated with Temecula’s beautiful natural setting. Check out the secluded Cross Creek Golf Club, designed by the legendary Arthur Hills, or Temecula Creek Golf Club, surrounded by more than 300 acres of Southern California hills, valleys, and mountain views for the perfect day on the links.
Animal lovers will want to take advantage of Temecula’s miles and miles of horseback-riding trails. For guided trail rides through Wine Country, check out Susie Q Ranch. Beginners can also opt for horseback riding lessons at several local stables or simply take in a range of horse-themed spectator events such as horse shows, dressage, races, and more at the sprawling Galway Downs Equestrian Center.
Feeling more adventurous? Be sure to book an early morning hot air balloon ride with one of the hot air balloon companies in the region, like A Grape Escape Hot Air Balloon Adventure or California Dreamin’, so you can take in dreamy vineyard views from the sky. If you prefer a faster pace, zip through Wine Country on ultra-hip tandem motorcycle sidecars chauffeured by stylishly dressed gentlemen riders through Sidecar Tours.
Evenings in Temecula Wine Country come alive during the summer months, with live music happening virtually every night of the week at the local wineries. Doffo Winery’s Late Nights, Live Music event series happens all summer long, featuring local and regional bands performing in their vintage-motorcycle-lined MotoBarrel Room. Peltzer Winery has a packed calendar of musical acts performing in their Crush House, while food trucks line up outside for hungry concert goers.
Old Town Temecula also offers great live entertainment options. Do a little two-stepping at the Temecula Stampede, the West Coast’s largest country music venue, or groove to some blues over a glass of wine or an ice cold beer at the Old Town Blues Club.
Summer is the perfect time to stroll through the historic Old Town Temecula. Pick up unique and handcrafted gifts and provisions at the many independent shops along Old Town’s Front Street, like Old Town Spice & Tea Merchants, the Temecula Olive Oil Company, and Citrus and Moss, or sit at one of the open-air, misted patios for a quick bite or craft cocktail at one of the great restaurants downtown.
History buffs will love uncovering the unique story of Temecula at the Temecula Valley Museum, featuring interactive exhibits, as well as family-friendly activities. Afterward, treat yourself to some penny candy or a piece of homemade fudge at the fantastically-retro Old Town Sweet Shop or take in a performance at Old Town Temecula Community Theater.
A long day of wine tasting, adventuring, dining, and shopping calls for a bit of rest and relaxation. Fortunately, Temecula offers plenty of opportunities to recharge your batteries. Take one of several wellness classes at Akash Winery, offering yoga and Pilates among the vines, followed, of course, by a glass or three of delicious Temecula Valley wine.
Book a luxurious treatment at one of the many spa facilities in Temecula, like Grapeseed Spa at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, or head to The Cove, Pechanga Resort Casino’s 4.5-acre sparkling oasis, featuring four pools, two waterslides, cabanas, whirlpools, a swim-up bar, and more. Feeling lucky? Head to the Casino for some slots or a few rounds of poker once you’re fully recharged.