5 Things You Need to Try in Wine Country (besides drinking wine)
Temecula Valley has earned its standing as a mini Napa through its ever-growing list of
impressive wines and the wineries that make them fresh. While you cannot go wrong with a day
spent winery hopping, it is imperative to not to miss out on all of the other fun opportunities wine
country has to offer! Many of these can be shared with the whole family as well, even the ones
who may not yet be 21!
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Hot air ballooning is definitely not something a majority of people can say they have done.
However, I’ll bet you everyone who has had the privilege will never forget their once-in-a-lifetime
experience up in the sky. From this breathtaking bird’s eye point of view, balloon pilots will often
act as guides, pointing out any places of significance and able to answer any questions you
might have. Within the Temecula Valley, there are 5,000 acres of protected citrus/ vineyard zone
that you will fly over, teeming with blooming flower colors and rolling mountains in the distance.
Flights are offered year-round at sunrise, weather permitting of course. Although most balloons
can hold up to fifteen people, private reservations are also offered at a steeper price. This hour
or two picturesque trips is the perfect opportunity to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or any
other special occasion to make someone feel greatly loved and appreciated. The options are
endless between Cielo Balloons Temecula, California Dreamin Balloon Adventures, A Grape
Escape Balloon Adventure, and Magical Adventure Balloon Rides, to just name a few!
Walking through vineyards is so last week when you’re given the option to horseback ride
through them instead. These guided tours will allow you to adventure through the backroads,
vineyards, and fruit trees you had no idea existed. One to three-hour rides are typically offered,
for individuals, couples, families (children welcome), or large group parties. Reservations are
required in order to provide you with your perfect, personalized ride, but any prior riding
experience is not! The horses are professionals, extremely gentle, and know the routes like the
back of their hoof, so don’t worry about having to do any work! Consider booking a sunset or
sunrise ride for an extra romantic and memorable experience. Wine tasting tours with
partnering wineries are also available, in which yes, you are allowed to drink and ride! The
popular organizations of Wine Country Trails by Horseback, Vin Hesten Trail Rides, and Susie
Q Ranch all have great reputations within the valley.
Sugarplum Zoo and Chocolates
True to its name, Sugarplum Zoo and Chocolates is the world’s first combined petting zoo and
chocolate shop in our very own city. Owner Lani Rager united her two loves on this hilltop ranch,
fitted with a chocolate shop, cafe, wine tasting room, and of course the lovable petting zoo.
Some of the current farm residents are Zeus the camel, Daisy the pig, Ophelia the water buffalo,
Apollo the steer, Hera the llama, two alpacas: Noel and Pluto, and Aurora the zebra. You will
also find donkeys, mini horses, ducks, pheasants, and other birds, chickens, rabbits, guinea
pigs, and a turkey. You are free to explore the grounds on your own or schedule an animal
encounter or private tour, gaining access to behind-the-scenes action. The options for petting
are endless! End your day with some fresh gelato or chocolate, with wine for the adults! Tickets
are super affordable, adults paying the most at $10 a person, seniors $8, children get in for just
$5 while toddlers (0-2) enter for free! Sugarplum is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm with no
reservations required, so don’t wait to plan your visit!
Hiking in Temecula Wine Country
For the outdoorsman, so many scenic hikes can be found deep in the hills of wine country.
Dripping Springs Trailhead is part of the Cleveland National Forest and is operated by forest
service. You can choose to follow the trail for ten miles up to thirty, depending on how difficult of
a hike you’re searching for. There are four connecting trail options to choose from, either
offering you views of Vail Lake, the “Big Four” peaks to the north (Santiago Peak, Mt. Baldy, San
Gorgonio and San Jacinto) or Temecula’s open countryside. You can even camp overnight
under the stars at the Dripping Springs Campground and begin again in the morning! For the
hiker who likes to push themselves and explore off the trail, Agua Tibia Wilderness spans over
17,961 acres of protected land. The classified as hard full loop trail comes in at 20.20 miles,
taking over ten hours to complete on average. For the less intense hikers who don’t want to
pack a gallon of water or those who want to walk and wine, the De Portola Wine Trail follows the
loop of ten popular family wineries. Get your steps in while enjoying the gorgeous views of these
Visit Pools/ Spas
I would personally like to thank the newly opened BOTTAIA Winery for their genius idea in adding
The Pool at BOTTAIA, is described as, “an oasis of relaxation and sophistication”. The pool
season will reopen again in May along with the poolside cafe, cocktail bar, lounge side service,
shaded tables, and even a splash pad for children. Choose to rent either a chaise longue pool
pass or a cabin and enjoy all-day relaxation! Within South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, you
will find GrapeSeed Spa nestled among the vineyards. The spa is fully equipped with all of the
essential amenities such as lockers, robes, sandals, showers, a steam room, sauna, whirlpool,
fitness room, and whirlpool. You can also choose to swim in the outdoor saltwater pool,
exclusively heated to 84 degrees all year round, or snack off the food and beverage service. If
you’re looking for a little extra TLC, massages, facials, nails, waxing, and everything in between
are offered with a complimentary glass of wine.