Finding Tranquility in Temecula Valley
Ann Nelson



When the Southern California coastline is crowded with too many people and the traffic is thick with too many cars, it’s nice to know there is a scenic and quiet place nearby that is filled with solitude. Temecula Valley is located 60 miles north of San Diego, and 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The Temecula Valley landscape is nestled among rolling hills lined with long, white split-rail fences, sprawling horse ranches and boutique wineries.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians has called the Temecula Valley home for more than 10,000 years. The name Temecula comes from an Indian word meaning “The Valley of Joy.”  Little is known about Temecula during the early 1800’s because so many records were destroyed in the fire that followed the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906. /font>

The population grew substantially when the stagecoach arrived. Years later, when it was discovered the land was suitable for avocado groves and grape vineyards, the area really took off. Today the population of Temecula is close to 100,000 but it still retains quaintness and a sense of the past.

My husband and I arrived in Temecula just in time to catch the last day of the 25th Annual Balloon and Wine Festival, held at Lake Skinner, nine miles east from the center of town.

The festival is a perfect place to taste the award-winning wines from local wineries, check out the crafts, fashion accessories and hats. I broke down and bought a hat that literally is an umbrella for wearing on top of your head. A “hands-free” umbrella for $3.00. Not bad!

The festival features great music from Grammy-nominated and award-winning jazz performers. Scanning over the whole scene in a hot-air balloon is the ultimate thrill. A portion of the proceeds from the event is given to the non-profit organization, All From the Heart, to support military families.

My husband likes to play golf, and if you’re into golf, there’s no better place to stay than Temecula Creek Inn Golf Resort with 300 acres of wide-open spaces. My husband and I laughed to ourselves when we realized the next morning that our wake-up call was the sound of the golf ball connecting with a club right below our balcony.

The 27-hole championship golf course is rated four stars by Golf Digest Places to Play. We decided  that it was time to get out of bed, go have breakfast, and explore Temecula!

We started our day with a scrumptious breakfast at the Temet Grill. My husband insisted we play golf before we did anything else. To be honest, my “golf game” is eerily similar to a game of croquet, so when another party asked to join us, I opted to become the official driver of the golf cart, rather than embarrass myself in front of total strangers.

The afternoon turned out to be more of a nature adventure for me. I spent my time watching the antics of chirping birds, playful squirrels, and taking photographs of the golfers.

The perfect way to cap off a perfect day at The Temecula Creek Inn is enjoying dinner at The Temet Grill. The room is beautifully appointed with rich, warm colors and overlooks the golf course. The menu features Pan Seared Halibut with Burnt Butter Noisette and Risotto Primavera with Yukon Potato Celery Root Puree. On weekends, live jazz is featured in the adjoining lounge.

We’d heard about a new class offered at The South Coast Winery Resort and Spa and wanted to try it out. The class is called “Vino Vinyasa” yoga. The class focuses on a series of sensory-enhancing asanas and combines yoga with wine tasting. What an experience!

There were more surprises in store for us at South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. I’d never dreamed it was possible to sleep in the middle of a winery, completely surrounded with luscious grapevines. Grapevines are everywhere! The South Coast Winery Resort and Spa consists of 76 separate guest villas. Each villa opens to a private terrace surrounded by 38 acres of sun-drenched vineyards. This place felt like heaven.

South Coast offers many special events throughout the year including Women’s Wine and Wellness Weekend, and Wine and Food Paring classes with Executive Chef Alessandro Serni and Master Winemaker Jon McPherson.

While we were on our trip, we wanted to make time to visit with Leah Di Bernardo. Leah is a chef, vintner, farmer, partner of The Castle B&B, and a key component of the Slow Food Revolution. The motto of the Slow Food Revolution is “food is not just nourishment for the body; it is nourishment for the soul.”  The movement promotes community-supported agriculture that is locally and organically grown.

Leah told us that 95% of the time she is able to obtain all her produce, eggs and dairy from within a ten-mile range. She added that 600 different crops are produced between San Diego and Riverside County, more to choose from than any other state.

Slow Food Temecula Valley is presently working with twenty area schools teaching edible hands-on gardening. Temecula offers other special programs as well. Contact (951) 694-FOOD, or for more information. For a list of vendors in your area, and more information   regarding Slow Food USA, go to a target

Wine is becoming the number one crop in Temecula Valley, home to over thirty award-winning wineries. Cool summer nights and wonderful breezes every afternoon are instrumental in creating an incredible environment for growing grapes and producing award-winning wines.

Before leaving Temecula Valley we wanted to spend a few hours strolling down the quaint, historical streets of Old Town. We found a fabulous restaurant while we were there. Penfold’s Cattle Company has great food, with an atmosphere that is very classy and low key. The restaurant specializes in slow-roasted prime rib and steak and lobster. Live music is featured every Friday and Saturday night.

Temecula Valley has earned the distinction of being a vacation destination in itself. After spending three luscious days of relaxation, it’s easy to see why.

Temecula Creek Inn Golf Resort
: Call (800) 962-7335, or visit
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
: Call (866) 994-6379,or visit
Wineries of Temecula Valley: Call (800) 801-WINE, or visit
Temecula Valley Visitors Center: Call (888) 363-2852, or visit

Ann Nelson is a freelance writer, presently living in San Diego, California.



Return to the September/October Index page