temecula vineyards balloons

Where?

Temecula, California

Why now?

Nicknamed “the new Napa Valley”, Temecula is home to 40 expanding wineries that are set to topple the leading tipsy-tourist escapes. Unlike their Napa and Sonoma siblings, many of the Temecula vineyards boast seasonal farm-to-fork restaurants seamlessly paired with homegrown vintages making for a unique offering which is hard to find in other parts of California. Rustic wooden farmhouses host intimate wine tastings, vintage tractors take you on rambles through the rolling vineyards and airstreams are converted into microbreweries that bubble into impromptu backyard throw downs. Where Napa errs on the side of stuffy sommelier territory, Temecula is about getting pissed with Cali creatives.

When to go?

October is the start of the grape harvest, so roll up your Levi’s and get stomping. Tune in to the live music that takes place in pop-up concerts all month; bands hop on the back of trailers, tractors and hay bales to fill the air with tinkling acoustic charm. Thanks to Temecula’s unique microclimate there’s sunshine 300 days of the year and a balmy ocean breeze that settles come nightfall – ideal weather for a weekend getaway.

Who to take with you?

Probably not a snooty oenophile as Temecula still isn’t Bordeaux, but it does bode well for novices. Bundle together your go-to girl gang, make sure you shotgun not to be designated driver then sniff out your favourite grapes.

Most likely to bump into?

A few farmers, resident farm dogs and tipsy Temecula residents who are the regions biggest fans – most of the wine produced is drunk here too.

Don’t miss

Other than the robust wines and artisan eats, take to the skies with a ride in a hot air balloon. The valleys spans over 33,000 acres and with its quaint old town and panoramic views, peppered with wooden-beam farmhouses – you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Tuscany. Take the trip at sunrise for obvious reasons.

Essentials to bring with you

Paracetamol for that impending hangover.

How to get there?

Fly to Los Angeles then rent a car and road trip 85 miles south.

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