Winterfest’s Events in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country
“The most festive season of the year arrives Thanksgiving weekend and is celebrated daily throughout December, January, and February as Winterfest in Downtown Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, and at Pechanga Resort & Casino. From holiday concerts, theater, and ballet; holiday lights; Santa, The Electric Light Parade, and Real-Snow-to-Play-In; adventuresome, satisfying, holiday shopping; festive Winterfest dining; and ice-skating on Town Square; to the great Winterfest outdoors with hot air balloon flights, golfing, and hiking at the Santa Rosa Plateau; a New Year’s Eve like-no-other; January’s California Restaurant Month; and February’s 28 Days of Romance. Days and nights are robust with magical moments and memorable traditions to share,” enthuses Kimberly Adams, Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO. “
Winterfest is a most wonderful time of year in Old Town Temecula, full of special events and holiday cheer. Santa Claus arrives along Old Town Front Street by horse-drawn carriage much to the delight of all ages. Visits with the jolly elf are welcome throughout the season at his “North Pole” off Main Street.
Giving the 12-block, Old Town shopping-dining-entertainment district extra reason to glow is Santa’s Electric Light Parade. The illuminated nighttime procession travels Old Town Front Street (Dec-07). The evening is a delightful opportunity to dine in Old Town restaurants, cafés, and bistros; and shop in Old Town specialty stores and boutiques.
Real-Snow-to-Play-In is Winter Wonderland at Pennypickle’s Workshop – Temecula Children’s Museum (Dec-14). Happy children, laughter, and joy-at-play are all part of this festive Winterfest scene on and along Main Street.
2-Adventuresome, Satisfying, Temecula Valley, Holiday Shopping
With a festive backdrop of Winterfest music, song, and entertainment, pedestrian-friendly Old Town Temecula’s 60 independently owned, specialty stores are ideal for unique, holiday shopping. Along the Old Town Temecula Tasting Trail are sure palate-pleasers with flavors that delight even the most discerning. Temecula Olive Oil is exceptionally popular for its fresh-pure-natural, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and artisan foods, as well as olive bath-and-body products, olive wood giftware, and recycled, olive-oil-bottle-glass jewelry. Old Town Spice Merchants’ shelves are brimming with fine herbs, spices, sea salts, blends, and teas. Great for gift-giving are locally created signature spicke blends; soup mixes like Wine Country Fagioli and Temecula Chile; teas like S’mores, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, and Pu’erh Chocolate Chai; and the amazing Vanilla Sugar. For barbecue lovers, Sweet Lumpy’s BBQ sells its savory, proprietary-recipe barbecue sauce only-at-the-restaurant in 16-ounce jars to-go.
At Old Town Root Beer Company, popular for gift giving are 4-packs and 6-packs of the original, family recipe, uniquely good, old-fashioned root beer. The shop also stocks a fun-and-wild variety of some 300 varieties of pops and sodas including novelty flavors like “bacon” and “peanut-butter-and-jelly.” Next door at Old Town Sweet Shop, gifts for chocolate-lovers are found. From fresh, flavorful fudge made with all-natural ingredients (chocolate, chocolate-walnut, rocky-road, chewy praline) to hand-dipped chocolates (almond, pecan, cashew turtles; chocolate-covered bacon). Also tempting are the fresh caramel apples and the incredible selection of retro candy makes for whimsical gifts.
Among other of Old Town Temecula’s holiday shopping pleasures are Temecula Lavender Company, Old California Lavender at Harmony, and Amari. Women love The Farmer’s Wife and across the river from Old Town is Granny’s Attic with a great variety of vintage collectibles for very personable gift giving.
Temecula Valley Wine Country is the destination to taste quality, award-winning wines and purchase favorites as well as unique wine-related gifts in Southern California. Approximately 40 wineries span the scenic valley, most with gift shops or gift areas. Even at established wineries like Briar Rose, Callaway, Keyways, Maurice Car’rie, Mount Palomar, Thornton, and Van Roekel, you can always find great, new wines. For big-red wines, Bel Vino, Doffo, Foot Path, Lumiere, Palumbo, and Wiens are popular choices. For large selections of both red and white varietals and proprietary blends, holiday shoppers head to Falkner, Gershon Bachus, Leoness, Lorimar, Miramonte, Monte de Oro, Oak Mountain, South Coast, and Wilson Creek. The Mediterranean varietals and flavors of French, Italian, and Spanish wines are found almost exclusively at Churon, Cougar, Danza del Sol, Europa Village, Ponte, and Robert Renzoni. Winterfest holidays are especially made for the sparkling wines of South Coast, Thornton, and Wilson Creek, as well as Danza del Sol and Oak Mountain. Must-see winery gift-shops include Ponte Marketplace, South Coast gift boutique, Maurice Car’rie, and Callaway.
For the satisfaction of discounts, Lake Elsinore Outlets – at the northwest corner of Temecula Valley – features 50+ factory and discounted stores. Bath & Body Works, Billabong, GAP, Guess, Levis, O’Neill, and Pacific Sunwear, as well as Bass, Nike, Reebok, SKECHERS, and Vans are among popular outlets.
Whether it’s a holiday concert, theater, ballet, holiday shopping, holiday lights or the season itself that has merry-goers in Temecula Valley for Winterfest, festive, seasonal dining is a highlight of every stay. Many restaurants feature menus showcasing local, seasonal ingredients and wine lists with a variety of Temecula Valley Southern California wines.
In Old Town Temecula, the classic Baily’s and more-casual Front Street Bar & Grill anchor the southern block of the district. Further north, Palumbo’s Ristorante serves highly regarded Italian cuisine, Soro’s very popular Mediterranean. For steaks, Texas Lil’s Mesquite Grill is the place; for barbecue, Sweet Lumpy’s. The Bank and Rosa’s Cantina feature Mexican fare.
Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country hosts excellent restaurants including Bouquet, Café Champagne, Carol’s, Creekside Grille, Meritage, The Pinnacle, Restaurant at Leoness, Restaurant at Ponte, Shorty’s Bistro, and Vineyard Rose. For casual fare, M.D.O. Bistro and Maurice’s Kitchen are popular.
Nestled against Temecula’s famed Rainbow Gap is Temecula Creek Inn. Within the casually elegant resort is the Temet Grill featuring menus inspired by the local vineyards and wine country. Pechanga Resort & Casino includes a variety of appealing, award-winning restaurants. From Great Oak Steakhouse, Paisano’s Ristorante, Seafood Grotto, and Journey’s End, to Bamboo, Blazing Noodles, Kelsey’s, and the Pechanga Buffet.
On December 24th memorable dining options include Baily’s, Texas Lil’s, Bouquet, Café Champagne, Creekside Grille, Meritage, Vineyard Rose, Temet Grill, Great Oak Steakhouse, Paisano’s, and the Pechanga Buffet. Joyful Christmas dining options include Café Champagne, Vineyard Rose, Temet Grill, Great Oak Steakhouse, Paisano’s, and the Pechanga Buffet.
4-Temecula Valley Holiday Lights
From hip-and-historic Old Town Temecula and gracious-and-friendly Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country to upscale-and-exciting Pechanga Resort & Casino, more beautiful each year are the Winterfest holiday lights and decorations that attract nighttime viewing throughout the valley.
Along Old Town Front Street – from arch to arch – tens of thousands of twinkling lights shine brightly. In Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country the wineries and vineyards “decked-out-for-the-holidays” loop includes (proceeding east on Rancho California Road) Thornton, Europa Village, Lorimar, South Coast, Ponte, and Keyways. From the luminous hotel tower to the festive, porte-cochere, the delightful wonder of Pechanga’s holiday magic is a sight to behold.
In Temecula Valley, Winterfest’s mostly sunny days, typically make for panoramic views of snow-capped mountains. This is a glorious Southern California time for enjoying hot air balloon flights, vacation-worthy golfing, and hiking at the Santa Rosa Plateau.
A hot air balloon flight over Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is an ultimately memorable adventure for celebrating family and friendship. Serenely floating together with spectacular views of rolling hills and vineyards may be the ultimate in holiday occasions. Local hot air balloon companies, A Grape Escape, California Dreamin’, D&D Ballooning, and Magical Adventures launch at sunrise daily including holidays (weather permitting).
Temecula Valley golf courses are highly regarded for course design, age-old oaks and sycamore trees, elevation changes, and expansive views. All are popular with golfers of all skill levels for perfectly challenging year-round play. Arthur Hills-designed Journey at Pechanga is one of California’s top courses. Temecula Creek Inn features 27 holes of championship golf surrounded by 350 acres of rustic natural beauty. The highly rated RedHawk Golf Club has one of the only island greens in Southern California. Legends Golf Club has rolling topography, five lakes, and numerous doglegs. Golf Club at Rancho California features hilly terrain, wide fairways, and large landing areas while Pala Mesa Golf Course has a traditional, parkland front-nine and back-nine that climbs into the foothills. Tee times may be scheduled daily including holidays.
The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve protects thousands of acres of grasslands, wetlands, oak woodlands, and chaparral, and offers a self-guided, interpretive, nature trail as well as 40 miles of hiking trails (most easy to moderate). Open daily from sunrise to sunset (including holidays) the Plateau provides opportunities to listen and watch for small songbirds wintering over in the oak woodlands. With sufficient rains, the vernal pools located on the Plateau’s basalt-capped mesas are home to miraculous fairy shrimp. The Plateau is an ideal site for a Southern California Winterfest picnic; stop en route to the Plateau at Campini’s Italian Deli south of Downtown Old Town Temecula or at E.A.T. Marketplace in Uptown Temecula for an alfresco feast to-go.
In Temecula Valley as throughout the world, nothing quite portrays the heart nor the spirit of the holidays as poetically as beautiful music, theater, dance, and voices in song.
Taking to the stage at the wonderful Old Town Temecula Community Theater are: A Christmas Carol: The Musical (the uplifting tale of Scrooge’s transformation and goodwill made magical, Nov-29 to Dec-09); The Nutcracker Ballet (beloved holiday tradition with music by Tchaikovsky, Dec-15 to 23); and Christmas In the Air: Songs of The Season (Dec-15/16).
At Pechanga Theater, Celtic Woman Christmas (Dec-13/14) features the Irish ensemble with gorgeous vocal harmonies.
During Winterfest the coolest place to be in Old Town Temecula is gliding across the Ice Skating Rink on Town Square (open daily Dec-14 to Jan-06). Friends and family can lace-up to take a spin and make loops around the rink. With holiday music in the air, this is pure Southern California winter-fun without the need for extremely chilling temperatures. Afterwards, enjoy fresh-brewed coffee and delicious, made-from-scratch desserts at Robin’s Nest.
8-Temecula: A New Year’s Eve Like-No-Other
New Year’s Eve (Dec-31) in Temecula includes a unique variety of dining, events, and celebrations.
On Old Town Temecula Town Square revelers join voices outdoors for East Coast (9pm) and again for West Coast (midnight) countdowns for The Great Temecula Grape Drop that heralds 2013. On this very special night of the year, Baily’s Old Town features a four-course dinner and New Year’s Eve party at Club 11. Old Town New Year’s Eve celebrations are also at Sweet Lumpy’s and Texas Lil’s.
In Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, Europa Village, South Coast Winery, Thornton Winery, and Wiens Cellars will host themed New Year’s Eve galas. At Temecula Creek Inn’s Temet Grill, a special New Year’s Eve dinner is planned.
With multiple mega-Disco-celebrations that rival Las Vegas, Pechanga Resort & Casino hosts a property-wide Disco-themed experience headlined by The Pointer Sisters. With the biggest New Year’s Eve Party under one roof, more than 75,000 people are expected to descend upon Pechanga for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Among options for New Year’s Day (Jan-01) dining are Texas Lil’s, Meritage, The Pinnacle, Vineyard Rose, Temet Grill, Great Oak Steakhouse, Paisano’s, and the Pechanga Buffet.
With a genuine appreciation for this casual, picturesque land of food and wine, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country celebrates California Restaurant Month by offering deliciously discounted dining including prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. Top restaurants in Downtown Old Town Temecula, Uptown Temecula, at Promenade Temecula, in Temecula Valley So Cal Wine Country, along Temecula Parkway, and at Pechanga Resort & Casino feature special menus at attractive prices daily throughout January.
The month-long celebration also provides the opportunity to showcase Temecula Valley chefs, their talents, philosophies, passions, and cuisine. For foodies and aspiring foodies, January is the chance to taste much of the goodness and greatness that Temecula Valley creates. For more information, go to restaurantmonth.org.
Tempting hotel/motel/resort romance packages and shared activities like romantic dining, spa treatments, and hot air balloon flights make beautiful Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country a favorite destination for couples throughout February.
Dine upscale/casual at restaurants like Baily’s, Palumbo’s Ristorante, Café Champagne, The Pinnacle, Vineyard Rose, Temet Grill, and Great Oak Steakhouse. Indulge in relaxation like that found at GrapeSeed Spa and Spa Pechanga. Float serenely in a hot air balloon over vineyards and rolling hills with panoramic views of snow-capped mountains in the still, quiet of morning. Less-busy, midweek escapes are especially memorable for attentive service throughout Temecula Valley.
*Information is believed accurate but may be subject to change.