by Howard Hian 

Destination Temecula                                                                                       
There are several compelling reasons to visit Temecula.  They include the history of the area, outstanding vineyards,
year-round tourist events, outdoor activities and two terrific resorts.
History - The Luiseno Indians first inhabited the region during the 1700s. 
When the Spanish settled the area the name became Temecula, which evolved from the Indian word
Temecunga meaning "the place of the sun." Frontiersmen Jedediah Smith and Kit Carson traveled through
the region in the 1800s. Temecula was officially established in 1859 with the opening of its post office.

Vineyards - Did you know that the California Winery of the Year is located in Temecula? 
In fact, it’s won the award for the past two years.  In 2008 and 2009, the California State Wine Fair
Competition’s Golden State Winery of the Year “Golden Bear” Award went to the South Coast Winery. 
With only five years of wine production, they now turn out over 40 different wines. In 2009, they won an
 astonishing 353 medals.  In addition to South Coast Winery, 3,000 acres of picturesque vineyards with
over 20 wineries can be found in what is referred to as Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country.

Events - We attended the 6th. Annual Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival.  The weekend festivities
were held in Old Town Temecula which is celebrating its 150th. anniversary.  Pancho Sanchez and his
 Latin Jazz Band headed the all-star lineup. There were outdoor music venues, jam sessions, a youth jazz
concert and performances in the state-of-the-art Old Town Community Theater.  Featured events in November
and December include Heritage Days, a Quilt Show, the Fall Rod Run, an Earle Stanley Gardner Mystery
Weekend (he was a one-time resident), Jazz at the Merc, Wine Country Harvest Celebration and lots more. 
Check the online calendar at

What to Do – You won’t be bored.  Try a hot-air balloon ride, play golf, visit vineyards, the Temecula Valley Museum
 and the Old Town Farmers Market (held every weekend).  Explore historic downtown and its shops, featuring everything
from western art and antiques to trinkets and imported cigars.  There are also numerous restaurants and bars. 
 A short drive away is the 600,000 acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  It is home to hiking trails and wildlife,
 including the endangered long eared owl, desert fox and Peninsular bighorn sheep.

Resorts – We stayed at two very special spots.  The first, the Temecula Creek Inn,
is the “grande dame” of the area.  It is owned by JC Resorts, which also operates the
 Rancho Bernardo Inn and the Surf & Sand Resort.  The property features comfortable
and spacious rooms, the award-winning Temet Grill, 27 holes of championship golf,
a swimming pool, tennis courts, jogging paths and bike trails. There is free parking,
 complimentary wi-fi and a fitness center.  Dinner at Temet Grill, overlooking the golf course
with the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains, is a treat. Their seasonal specialties are enhanced
by the presentation and service.  Don’t miss the roasted lamb sirloin filet entrée and chocolate decadence
for dessert. The wine list features interesting vintages by the glass or bottle.  Their Sunday champagne
 brunch is spectacular. My favorites were the Bloody Mary bar, peel-and-eat shrimp, smoked salmon,
carving station, eggs benedict, fresh fruit and an assortment of desserts including a chocolate fountain and an ice cream sundae station.

The beautiful South Coast Winery Resort and Spa was our next stop. 
Set within their vineyard, it encompasses 39 acres and features 76 luxurious private villas
with fireplaces, spa tubs and free Internet access.  A nice touch is the complimentary bottle
of wine in your suite.  Other amenities include the 15,000 square foot GrapeSeed Spa, a tasting room,
large pool area, beautiful landscaping and the Vineyard Rose Restaurant.  Breakfast on the terrace,
overlooking the rows of grapevines while sipping mimosas, is decadent and highly recommended.
Sign up for their behind-the-scenes, hour-long guided winery tour which finishes up in the tasting room with wine, fruit and cheese pairings.   

Contacts and Special Notes

Temecula Creek Inn                                                              
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
Historic Temecula insights can be found at
 For one-stop shopping and information including a schedule of events, where to stay,
 vineyards and restaurants contact the Temecula Convention and Visitors Bureau at
or call 1-888-363-2852. Ask about specials, discounts and packages.
The International Jazz Festival is produced by music buffs Jon and Jane Laskin.
 Contact them at 1-951-678-2517 or log onto

Sponsors of the Temecula International Jazz Festival included the Family Readiness Office,
1st. RECON BN Camp Pendelton and the Camp Pendelton Marines. Over the festival weekend,
The Wounded Warriors of San Diego’s Balboa Naval Hospital contributed drawings to
The Art Miles Mural Project that were exhibited in support of the UN International Decade for the Culture of Peace.

Safe Travels and enjoy the journey…
Howard Hian