Less than a couple of hours from downtown Los Angeles and one hour from Orange County, wine and vineyards feature heavily in a part of Southern California known as Temecula Valley. Temecula is a pretty, tourist town with some good restaurants such as Soro’s, they even had New Zealand Lamb chops on the menu and gift shops all along Main Street. The casual, picturesque valley includes Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country and Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Yet to really experience the region here are five ways to go ‘Au Naturale in Temecula Valley.’
1. Explore the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve: Hikers and nature enthusiasts enjoy some of California’s rarest landscapes by exploring 64km of trails at the 8,300-acre Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. Coast live oak woodlands and the rare, ancient Engelmann oak savanna are home to acorn woodpeckers, red-shouldered hawks, and great horned owls and in spring mule deer. Two adobe structures on the Reserve date back to 1846 and once served as bunkhouses for cowboys.
2. Golf Journey at Pechanga: Recognized as one of the finest golf courses in California, the Arthur-Hills designed, Journey at Pechanga, snakes through native canyons and along the boulder-strewn mountain, rising and falling nearly 100m in 18 holes. Designed on nearly 300 acres of ancestral land, preserved almost all of the mature, native oak trees including the ancient Great Oak visible from the back nine. Estimated at 850-1,500 years-old, it is one of the oldest oak trees in the world. Journey’s signature hole 6 has a breathtaking 53m drop – the largest elevation drop on a California course.
3. Saddle-up for a Horseback Ride through the Vineyards: A guided, horseback ride through the vineyards with Wine Country Trails is an ideal way to experience Temecula Valley natural richness first-hand. Rolling hills of trellised vines comprise vast vineyard acreage making for a scenic, leisurely tour. Rides are on quality, well-seasoned horses in the early morning when dew is still fresh on the vines and in the afternoon/evening with gentle ocean breezes and a setting sun as a backdrop. Packages combine a horseback tour, wine tasting, and gourmet dinner.
4. Hike the High-water Lakeview Loop Trail: Hiking boots and plenty of water are requisites for hiking the High-water Lakeview Loop Trail at Southern California’s largest reservoir, 4,500-acre, Diamond Valley Lake. Located in what is known as the Valley of the Mastodons (for the fossils unearthed on-site during construction), the 35km trail loops around the lake over three dams and offers hikers incredible lake views and vistas.
5. Watch Solar Cup Boats on the Water: Just east of Temecula Valley and surrounded by rolling hills of chaparral, is 1400-acre Lake Skinner – home to the annual Solar Cup solar-powered boat race, the largest in the United States. The event, (May 18, 19, and 20) features single-seat boats each with an official skipper and sunlight as the only power source; qualifying events, endurance races, and sprint races. Lake Skinner is also home to the annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival each June.
For more information go to: www.visittemecula.org