Temecula road trip is a California dream

Temecula Old Town 2

Couple walking around Old Town Temecula. (Photo Courtesy Temecula Tourism)

Vacay.ca’s Sun Getaways series aims to help you plan your winter and spring holidays. We will be covering destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, United States, and Europe. This article features Las Angeles and the Temecula Valley Wine Country in California, USA and first appeared on VacayNetwork.com.

Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor

TEMECULA VALLEY WINE COUNTRY, CALIFORNIA — With studios, museums, restaurants, sporting events and countless concerts it’s no surprise that Los Angeles gets a lot of love. There is no doubt that I was keen to see L.A. but I was also keen to check out California’s famous Temecula Valley Wine Country region. My trip was a mix of urban celebrity madness and country charm.


3 pm: Hollywood Walk of Fame

After landing and getting settled our first stop was the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a permanent monument to 2,600 of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry including Chevy Chase, Sammy Davis Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Bugs Bunny and Morgan Freeman. Canadians include Bryan Adams, Mike Myers, Ryan Reynolds, Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland and William Shatner.


Canadian actor Michael J. Fox is one of several Canucks you can visit on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. (Rod Charles/Vacay.ca)


8 am: Dr. Phil Show
860 North Gower Street

I made arrangements to see a live taping of the Dr. Phil Show before I left Toronto. Dr. Phil tapes before a studio audience at Paramount Pictures Studios Stage 29 twice in the morning on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Godfather II, Star Trek First Contact and the Arsenio Hall Show were all filmed on this stage.

It was an interesting experience to see how a show is put together and watch Dr. Phil work his magic in person. The tickets are free. The show often deals with difficult topics designed to provide information and help people – in fact during my visit Dr. Phil was trying to help a woman with alcoholism. So I can’t say it was a fun experience but it was worthwhile, illuminating and entertaining. Some advice – eat a good breakfast before you go because the show only provides light snacks during the break. I would go again.

There were things I would change. No phones or cameras were allowed so there were no opportunities for pictures, even in the outside waiting area. The studio is cold – perhaps it’s to protect the equipment or control sweating – but even with a sweater it was chilly. Dr. Phil was present for two shows but never interacted with the audience. Lastly, because visitors have no control over seating I found myself in the last row for both shows.


The Dr. Phil show tapes two episodes a day, three days a week in Los Angeles. You can be part of the audience but you must book ahead of time.  (Photo Courtesy Dr. Phil Show)

2 pm: On the road to Temecula Valley Wine Country

After Dr. Phil it was off to Temecula Valley. Located in southwestern Riverside County, Temecula Valley Wine Country is a three hour drive from Los Angeles International Airport, give or take. I was in no hurry – Los Angeles is known for congestion and I was determined to take my time and enjoy the lovely journey.

The city of Temecula is a relaxed, sunny getaway with outstanding restaurants, shopping and history away from the big city. Temecula Valley Wine Country also features historic Old Town Temecula and the Pechanga Resort and Casino. If travelling in spring make a point to see the super bloom of poppies, California’s official flower on Interstate 15 just outside Temecula Valley. You will probably see cars lined along the road as people stop to look.

4 pm: Check into Temecula Creek Inn
44501 Rainbow Canyon Rd

Temecula Creek Inn is a pet-friendly gem in what feels like the middle of nowhere, a lovely location to kick back on your balcony, go for a walk or enjoy a round of golf after a long drive. I enjoy dinner at Cork Fire Kitchen Grille & Tap, a relaxing restaurant with views of the sprawling golf course. I enjoy a cast iron New York Steak with green peppercorn demi and crispy russet potatoes ($39) and Pan Seared Scallops with red curry, charred cauliflower smear and crisp carrots ($36). The next morning I enjoyed breakfast at Cork Fire Kitchen before heading off for our wine tour.


View of the Temecula Valley from Danza Del Sol Winery, one of several terrific wineries in the region. (Rod Charles/Vacay.ca)


10 am Grapeline Wine Tours

A great way to get out and discover Temecula Valley’s famous wine country, featuring more than 40 wineries, is with Grapeline Wine Tours. The experts at Grapeline know the region so don’t be afraid to ask questions as most people who joined our tour were wine amateurs. Spanning more than 33,000 acres – the largest viticultural area in Southern California – Temecula Valley Wine Country is particularly well-suited to growing Italian, Spanish and French grapes such as Sangiovese, Syrah, Montepulciano, Viognier, and Zinfandel and Tempranillo.

Temecula Valley Wine Country wines are made possible by a unique microclimate that is often compared to the Mediterranean with dry summers, cool winters, and relatively little rainfall. These factors, combined with soils that consist primarily of decomposing granitic material, are beneficial for grapevine roots that excel in Temecula Valley Wine Country. More than two dozen grape varieties thrive in the region, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Riesling and Chardonnay.

Our stops included Avensole WineryFazeli Cellars (a brilliant building, Persian influence design), Danza Del Sol and Cougar Vineyard.  A half-day wine adventure will cost you $95 per person, the Grapehopper Tour is $79 per person.


The Gambler ( $58), a perfectly seasoned 24oz Certified Angus beef Bone-in Ribeye, is the signature steak at the Gambling Cowboy. (Photo Courtesy Gambling Cowboy)

7:30 pm Dinner at The Gambling Cowboy

Located in the heart of Old Town Temecula, The Gambling Cowboy looks like it belongs on a ranch. This classic steak and seafood restaurant offers an impressive assortment of steaks and a wine list featuring vintages from many local wineries that I had visited earlier in the day.

The Bacon Braised Short Rib ($28) or the Country Fried Steak ($26) with hand tenderized certified Angus beef served with garlic herb mashed potatoes and finished with their homemade sausage sage pan gravy is very good. Seafood choices include their Sweet BBQ Salmon ($29) and Fresh Halibut Trio ($46) with fresh Alaskan Halibut, shrimp, and scallops finished with an heirloom tomato basil butter. Breakfast and lunch is also served here.

After dinner I enjoyed a walk along Old Town Front Street and the exciting nightlife of Temecula Valley, bustling with restaurants, bars and shops, live music and dozens of patios.


10 am: Tour of Old Town Temecula

After checking out of Temecula Creek Inn I decided to spend our last day in Old Town Temecula before leaving. Temecula Valley is known for wine but the craft beer scene is pretty good too so I make a point to visit Wiens Brewing and try the Apricot Wheat and Plateau Blonde Ale.

After a morning of window shopping in the sunshine I stopped at Crush & Brew for lunch. An artisan restaurant located in the center of Old Town Temecula, Crush & Brew has a fabulous wine and cocktail menu and selection of local craft beers. Several delicious items on the menu – especially if you like burgers – but what I enjoyed most were the selection of fries. Flavors include Creole, Salt & Pepper, Pork Belly and Pastrami Cheddar ranging from $7- $12.


Website: www.visittemeculavalley.com
Phone: 1-888-363-2852
Website: info@visittemeculavalley.com


Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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