LAKE SKINNER, Calif. — Temecula has always been known for its beautiful wineries. Combine that with hot air balloons and you are here at the 33rd annual Temecula Valley Wine and Balloon Festival.
The weather was cloudy and windy on opening night–Friday. Temperatures began in the mid 60’s when the gates opened at 3 p.m. and dropped to the mid 50’s when the festival closed at 10 p.m.
“We just started, I have coconut champagne that I’m trying and it’s delicious,” said attendee Nara Davis of Eastvale. “I’m excited for the balloons though. I have the strawberry chardonnay. I’ve tried four so far. I think we’re going to hit them all and then go over to the beer and try all of that, too. We’ll see how it goes.”
There are 16 wineries participating at this year’s Wine and Balloon Festival. In addition, attendees have a choice of a wine and food pairing or a beer and food pairing as well.
“We’ve only had three, but the Coyote Oaks is really good,” said festival goer Kristie Weibelt from Orange County. “We are actually camping in the campground. We will be here all weekend.”
Hot air balloons typically launch in the early morning hours around 6 a.m. But the evening balloon glow is a sight not to be missed. Balloons were not used on Friday due to the high winds. The crowd was treated to a fire show instead.
“Our winery is closed to members only for private events,” said Jennifer Beck, manager of the tasting room at Curry Vineyards. “But we have a tasting room in Old Town Temecula that has live music Friday and Saturday nights. So far today, the Syrah is our most popular.”
Country music group Parmalee opened up for Phil Vassar Friday evening. They performed their hits “Carolina,” “Close Your Eyes,” and introduced their new single, “Roots.”
“I love it here, I’ve been here since 1985,” said attendee Sara Stribling of Temecula. “I came here once 10 years ago with my lovely friend here and it’s been a great time. I love the sweet wines here. I like the almond champagne from Wilson Creek Winery. The balloons are awesome. My grandparents used to live out here. We used to see the balloons take off outside their house.”
Vassar was the headliner on the opening night of the festival. He performed most of his hit singles and introduced a couple of new songs from a forthcoming album.
“It’s been pretty good, we’re going through and getting some tastings,” said festival goer Josh Grose of La Mirada. “We’re having a good time. We’ve tried a lot of reds. We made our way through about half of them. We’re going through the other half over here. The flavored champagnes are good. We’re staying in the campground so we’re staying for all three days.”
The festival takes place at the Lake Skinner Recreation Area, at 37701 Warren Road Winchester, CA 92596. Hours are 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For discounted tickets and more information, visit www.tvwbf.com.