Autumnfest 2014 Top 10 Festivals and Special Events in Temecula Valley


Autumnfest announces the Autumnfest 2014 Top 10 Festivals and Special Events in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country including hot air balloon flights, live music, California-Certified Farmers Markets, California Wine Month, Temecula Valley International Film Festival, farm activities, olive ranch tours, grape stomps, a quilt show, Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting, and Thanksgiving week. Welcoming more than 2 million visitors each year, the casual, picturesque Temecula Valley getaway and vacation destination includes Southern California Wine Country, Downtown Old Town Temecula, and Pechanga Resort & Casino; and is located 60 minutes from San Diego, Orange County, and Palm Springs; 90 minutes from Los Angeles and Hollywood.

1-Autumnfest Hot Air Balloon Flights over Temecula Valley Wine Country
(Daily at sunrise)
A hot air balloon flight over Temecula Valley Wine Country provides the opportunity to float serenely over some of Southern California’s last remaining, open, rural countryside. The experience with spectacular views of vineyards, rolling hills, farms, ranchlands, and citrus groves can be especially memorable during Autumnfest. Chance opportunities may provide potential to witness grape harvest at dawn from overhead. Later in the season, as the weather cools, for an exclusive two-to-three weeks, the vineyards are vibrant as leaves change from green to gold to red. Local hot air balloon companies, A Grape Escape, California Dreamin’, and Magical Adventures, launch at sunrise, seven-days-a-week (weather permitting) and provide flights of approximately one hour. Romantic flights can be exclusively for two passengers or fun flights of up to 12 or 14 passengers are offered for families, friends, and co-workers. Fleets of multiple hot air balloons accommodate larger groups up to 40 passengers. The Magical Adventures newest fleet has doors in the baskets for walk-on/walk-off convenience. Inquire with hot air balloon companies about special celebration packages, sparkling wine toasts, and certificates of flight.

2-Temecula Valley Autumnfest Live Music and Entertainment
(Throughout September, October, and November)
Throughout Autumnfest, visitors can savor live music and entertainment in Temecula Valley Wine Country, Downtown Old Town Temecula, and at Pechanga Resort & Casino. The Champagne Jazz concert series at Thornton Winery continues into October. Meanwhile, authentic winery venues feature live music including Carol’s at Baily Winery, Bel Vino Winery, Meritage at Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Danza del Sol Winery, Europa Village, Falkner Winery, Keyways Winery, Leoness Cellars, Lorimar Winery, and Miramonte Winery. Monte de Oro Winery & Vineyards, Mount Palomar Winery, Oak Mountain Winery, Ponte Family Estate, Robert Renzoni Vineyards, the Vineyard Rose at South Coast Winery, and Wilson Creek Winery also feature live music.

The wine tasting rooms of Old Town Temecula feature live music including Curry Vineyards, Fazeli Cellars, and Lorimar Loft. Live music is also at Front Street Bar & Grill, The Gambling Cowboy, and PUBlic House. The late-night Baily’s nightclub is “eleven after dark”; country western music and dancing are at Temecula Stampede. Also in Old Town is The MERC, an intimate club-style performance space featuring live musical entertainment including notable jazz artists, popular country talent, classic chamber performances, as well as themed cabaret evenings. Pechanga Resort & Casino offers a variety of concerts, entertainment, live music, and dancing. Pechanga venues include the Pechanga Theater, Cabaret Lounge, Eagle’s Nest, and the Pechanga Comedy Club. Gaming at Pechanga, California’s largest casino, is its own brand of entertainment and excitement.

3-Old Town Temecula California-Certified Farmers Markets
(Saturday mornings, August 30; September 6, 13, 20, and 27; October 4, 11, 18, and 25;
November 1, 8, 15, and 22)
Autumnfest at the Old Town Temecula Farmers Market offers seasonal highlights like beautifully exotic-looking, berry-flavored dragon fruit; bouquets of fresh chrysanthemums in autumn colors; butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and yams; plus pumpkins and gourds. Every Saturday morning, local farmers, growers, and artisan food purveyors display a bounty of fresh, seasonal (organic, exotic, and conventional) fruits and vegetables, artisan foods, fresh-baked goods, and colorful, fresh-cut flower bouquets. The weekly open-air marketplace is acclaimed as much for fresh, flavorful, local, California-grown, directly-from-the-farmer, tree-and-vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, as for the opportunities to talk with and learn from dozens of growers and specialty food artisans. Consider fresh-cut flowers for adorning a hotel room with good cheer, and ask for guidance in selecting avocados and citrus that may travel especially well.

4-California Wine Month in Temecula Valley Wine Country
(Daily, September 1 through 30)
Throughout the state of California including the Temecula Valley A.V.A. (American Viticultural Area), September is celebrated as Wine Month. To commemorate the celebration, Temecula Valley Wine Country offers a special SIP Passport. The only-in-September discount voucher available from the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association (TVWA) yields wine tasting flights at multiple wineries and a souvenir wine glass. Also in September, the CRUSH Wine & Culinary Showcase is the TVWA’s exclusive, gala event held this year at Wiens Family Cellars (September 13). The exceptional evening with Temecula Valley wineries’ gracious owners and family members, and talented winemakers, features award-winning Temecula Valley premium varietals and proprietary blends, fine cuisine from local chefs, farms, and restaurants, and live entertainment.

September is an ideal time to experience Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s scenic vineyards and authentic wineries. Less-busy weekdays are especially ideal. Visitor experiences include Temecula Valley wine country tours with local tour and transportation companies, and wine country learning experiences including thoughtful, specially designed, vineyard and winery tours, wine tastings, wine and food pairings, seminars, cooking classes and other educational experiences. Not to be missed, is dining in excellent winery restaurants with vineyard views. At these award-winning eateries, passionate chefs expertly pair fresh, local, seasonal cuisine with premium Temecula Valley vintages.

5-Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival
(September 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21)
The Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival (TVIFF) is a true advocate and accessible, unpretentious home for independent film and music artists. Five days and evenings celebrate artistic expression, a diverse variety of visions, and cinematic and music excellence. The film component features full-length features, short films, student films, documentaries, and animation. The music fest showcases new, unsigned musical talents in a wide variety of genres.

TVIFF events include opening night red carpet welcome and premiere, four days of general screenings and special film showcases, a two-day music fest, a three-day content creator and buyer marketplace, various film and music industry workshops and classes, and a closing night black tie awards gala. An exclusive Festival All Access Pass, available for purchase through the TVIFF office, includes all film screenings, workshops, the music fest, opening night festivities, and closing black-tie awards gala.

6-Temecula Valley Autumnfest Farm Activities, Olive Ranch Tours, Grape Stomps, and More
(Throughout September, October, and November)
From a legendary pumpkin patch and corn maze, to live ranch tours, grape stomps, and more, the natural bounty of Autumnfest is reflected in an abundance of seasonal Temecula Valley experiences for visitors to discover and explore. A down-to-earth experience at Peltzer Pumpkin Farm is offered daily from September 20 through October 31. Explore the namesake pumpkin patch; a garden featuring gourds, sunflowers, and specialty squash; a tractor collection; plus witness pig races. The Big Horse Corn Maze is Southern California’s largest authentic, such multi-path puzzle. Visitors thrill to the challenge of the pathways lined with 7-foot-tall cornstalks, and enjoy activities like hay wagon rides, a corn cannon and pumpkin bowling, weekends in October.

Highly regarded olive growers and olive oil producers, Temecula Olive Oil Company (TOOC) garners an exceptional following for their sustainable practices and quality, fresh, pure, and flavorful, 100% Southern California, 100% extra virgin olive oil. Exclusively by advance reservation on second and fourth Saturdays (September 13 and 27, October 11 and 25, and November 8 and 22), visitors may experience a guided tour of the TOOC Olive View Ranch east of Old Town Temecula. The learning experience highlights sustainable planting, growing, and harvesting practices; the unique mill and press equipment; and explains cold pressing of the olives to extract oil from the fruit. After the tour, guests taste fresh Temecula olive oil the way nature intended. Savoring the purity illustrates that sustainable growing practices and the old world process make all the difference. The tasting includes Temecula Olive Oil signature, varietal, and limited-edition blends like full-bodied, Temecula Valley Blend Olive Oil (crafted from olives hand-harvested at fine estates throughout the Temecula Valley) as well as balsamic vinegars like Hatch Chili. Also at the Olive View Ranch in October will be a Temecula Olive Oil Company Harvest event; contact TOOC for date and details.

Set amidst scenic vineyards, the Grape Stomp experience in Temecula Valley Wine Country is a delightful ritual of the grape harvest season. At ultimately memorable events, many wineries host the stomping and squishing of grapes with bare feet. Events include Lorimar Vineyards & Winery Grape Stomp (September 20), Leoness Cellars Grape Stomp (September 21), South Coast Winery Blessing of the Wine and Grape Stomp (September 21), Grape Stomping Festival at Ponte Family Estate (September 28), and Sip, Savor, and Stomp at Wilson Creek Winery (October 3 and October 24).

Additional Temecula Valley Wine Country events at authentic winery venues further celebrate the Autumnfest season. Sip Into the Sunset at Briar Rose Winery (September 5 and October 3). As early as September, visit the new Villa tasting room at Robert Renzoni Vineyards, and by November experience the grand opening of the expansive, new Wine Cave at Oak Mountain Winery. Lorimar Winery hosts Movies in the Vines (September 29, October 27, and November 24). South Coast Winery features Haunted Wine Tours (late-afternoons, October 25 through 31); and Leoness Cellars celebrates with a Winemaker Dinner (November 15).

7-Old Town Temecula Outdoor Quilt Show
(October 4)
With hundreds of quilts made from thousands of yards of fabric on exhibit along eaves and on banisters and storefronts, the Valley of the Mist Quilters Guild displays the colorful, textile design and artistry throughout Downtown Old Town Temecula. The quilting extravaganza showcases quilts ranging from handmade and more-modern machine-made patchwork, to multi-faceted, contemporary expressions with surface design, applique, and embellishments.

Quilters and non-quilters stroll one of the most vibrant days in the pedestrian-friendly Old Town district to admire and appreciate the passion, attention to detail, and creativity of the works on display. Fresh air, a leisurely walk, and the vivid colors of quilts, spark an appetite to be satisfied by a meal at one of Old Town’s many independently owned restaurants, bistros, and artisan food shops. Many menus are seasonally inspired and offer items like butternut squash soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, hand-scooped pumpkin ice cream, and harvest-pumpkin tea-to-go.

Beginning quilters and veteran quilt makers alike will find inspiration for projects at the Temecula Civic Center. A one-day quilt mart is companion to the grand, quilt show and provides the opportunity to shop for fabrics, patterns, equipment, and supplies.

8-Komen Inland Empire Race for the Cure
(October 19)
With upscale retailers and restaurants, and a main-street setting featuring fountains and shade trees, Promenade Temecula is the venue for the Komen Inland Empire Race for the Cure. The day’s activities and features include the Wall of Hope, an Expo and Kids Expo, Survivor Activities and Ceremonies, a 5K Run/Walk competition, 5K Run/Walk fun run, a Family Fun Run/Walk, Kids Only Run, and Awards Ceremony. At the 2013 event, more than 300 teams and 9,000 people displayed their commitment wearing the color pink.

9-Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting Weekend in Temecula Valley Wine Country
(November 1 and 2)
The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Harvest Celebration is one of the most joyfully anticipated events of the Autumnfest season. Event ticket holders not only taste finished bottled wines with Temecula Valley’s talented winemakers but also experience tank and barrel tastings of future vintages. Samplings of perfectly paired gourmet food are also part of the weekend sensory experiences. Companion to each ticket is a souvenir wine glass, a winery map, and a paring menu listing the wines and foods offered at all participating Temecula Valley wineries.

The Barrel Tasting Weekend also unofficially christens the Temecula Valley Wine Country holiday shopping season. Award-winning Temecula Valley wines, unique wine-themed gifts, and specialty food items are thoughtful gifts that are wildly appreciated. Among Temecula Valley wineries with a wonderful reputation for featuring holiday wines and merchandise with exceptional charm and panache are the gift shops at Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Europa Village, Leoness Cellars, Lorimar Winery, Monte de Oro Winery, Ponte Family Estate, South Coast Winery, and Wilson Creek Winery.

10-Thanksgiving Week in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country
(November 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27)
Visitors to California and residents of Southern California are discovering that Temecula Valley Wine Country is an ideal vacation destination for Thanksgiving week. Special resort, hotel, and motel Sunday-through-Thursday (better-than-weekend) nightly room rates encourage more days and more fun. With lots to see and plenty to do, couples, families, and friends connect and reunite for a variety of activity-filled days, then celebrate the holiday joyously and effortlessly at award-winning Temecula Valley restaurants.

Picturesque Temecula Valley Wine Country beckons with hot air balloon flights, wine tasting at nearly 40 wineries, and equestrian experiences. Charming Downtown Old Town Temecula offers culture, shopping, dining, and entertainment amidst the historic, pedestrian-friendly, 12-block district. Exciting Pechanga Resort & Casino features entertainment and the most expansive casino gaming experience in California. The scenic Temecula Wine Country Golf Trail hosts six courses open to the public; most provide elevation changes and expansive views, and many are embraced by nature. Give thanks at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve (open daily, sunrise to sunset). Hike to see the huge sycamore trees growing along the creek beds. In the midst of seasonal splendor, their large leaves may be turning from green to shades of gold, walnut, or mahogany.

For Thanksgiving feasting on Thursday, options abound. Menus include traditional, non-traditional and the seasonally inspired some with wine-pairing suggestions; call restaurants in advance for reservations. In Temecula Valley Wine Country, award-winning dining establishments include Bouquet at Ponte Family Estate, Cafe Champagne at Thornton Winery, and the Vineyard Rose at South Coast Winery. Downtown Old Town Temecula restaurants open on Thanksgiving include Baily’s fine dining and The Gambling Cowboy; beside the Rainbow Gap at Temecula Creek Inn, Cork Fire Kitchen. At Pechanga Resort & Casino, options include fine dining at Great Oak Steakhouse, Paisano’s Italian, and Umi Sushi and Oyster Bar. Casual dining at Pechanga includes Bamboo, Blazing Noodles, Kelsey’s tavern, and The Pechanga Buffet. For catching the holiday season’s newly released movies, Promenade Temecula features a 15-screen movie theater.

posted by: Eric Fujimori

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