With crystal clear skies and views for miles, this morning's hot air balloon ride was the perfect way to kick off this year's Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival at Lake Skinner. Being my first time in a hot air balloon, my nerves were in full force, but our pilot, Scott McClinton from SkyCab Balloons, reassured me that it would be a smooth ride. We watched as he and his crew set up, inflating the enormous balloon until it stood upright. Crewmembers Keith Graham and Kym Lynch worked diligently to get the balloon in riding form, then waved us off as we began to float up, up, up in the air...
With the always beautiful Temecula Valley beneath us, we roamed over the festival site, getting a sneak peak of all corners of the festival grounds before the crowd showed up. We even managed to wake up some of the campers, as we were greeted during our descent by eager kids wanting to take a picture next to the balloon, and who even helped with deflating and putting it away! Scott and his crew explained the ins and outs of hot air balloons, how they work, and the variety of places they travel throughout the country giving hot air balloon rides. And the best part-they graciously capped off the ride with a complimentary champagne toast!
With over fifty hot air balloons going up this weekend for the Balloon and Wine Festival, you can expect the skyline to be dotted with bulbous balloons of all colors and patterns. You can't beat the scenery and serenity of a hot air balloon ride, and this weekend makes for the perfect time and place to try it out.
For more information on SkyCab Balloons, contact Scott McClinton at www.SkyCabBalloons.com
June 3-5, 2011
Lake Skinner Recreation Area
37701 Warren Road
Winchester, CA 92596
5:00 pm FRIDAY 6:00 am SATURDAY AND SUNDAY.
Friday - 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Saturday - 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Sunday - 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Autos - $5.00; Bus/RV - $10.00 A parking ticket is good for one day and you may exit and return to the Festival grounds on the same day without purchasing another parking ticket. NO OVERNIGHT PARKING.
General Admisson: INCLUDES GENERAL ADMISSION SEATING TO ALL CONCERTS
ONLINE - Friday $20.00, Saturday $23.00, Sunday $15.00, Juniors 7-12 $5.00, Children 6 and under FREE.
Weekend Combo- $50.00, (Friday, Saturday & Sunday).
Sunday GATE ONLY: Active Military Discount - $10.00 - Must show Military ID.
AT GATE - Friday $22.00, Saturday $25.00, Sunday $17.00, Juniors 7-12 $5.00, Children 6 and under FREE.
The last few summers have been pretty jam-packed and it seems the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival hasn't quite made it on our calendar. Growing up in Temecula, it is often a last minute decision to attend the festival, as was the case this year. We headed over Friday night for the balloon glow, some concerts and of course, wine tastings. Yes, you can taste these wines anytime at the wineries, but it is just so convenient to have them all in one place. And you don't usually find funnel cakes and bbq ribs at the local wineries. So after purchasing wine tasting tickets and perusing the vendor area, we made our way to the food court. I enjoyed a tasty tri-tip sandwich then headed back for some more wine tasting.
Among the staple Temecula wineries was a tasting booth that immediately stood out. It could have been the man in the pirate hat or the line of ladies grabbing plastic "booty" out of a treasure chest. Plateau Vineyards is a small winery located in the Santa Rosa Plateau and farms fifteen acres of Bordeaux grape varieties. They may be off the beaten path with only two production wines, a Cabernet and a Merlot, but man do they know how to have a good time! (As witnessed by the two "Pirates of the Plateau" tattoos I acquired after my third taste of their cab) We will definitely be visiting their winery soon to get the whole scoop on Plateau Vineyards.
As the sun began to set, crowds started making their way to the festival gates to watch the massive hot air balloons being blown up. If you've never seen this in person, it is pretty amazing. After a little trouble getting the enormous Wilson Creek Almond Champagne bottle completely filled, the display of glowing balloons took over the skyline. This has always been my favorite part of the Balloon and Wine Festival, when everyone can walk right up to the balloon baskets and see first hand how they work. I love seeing kids' faces light up as the operators open up the flames for the glow.
We finished out the night listening to some great music from Lonestar, James Otto and Chuck Wicks. The TVB&W festival has really stepped up its entertainment, making the Friday night $18 entry fee well worth it. While this year was a quick trip out to see how the festival has progressed, you can bet next year The Temecula Insider will be out there in full force for the entire weekend. Maybe we'll even have our own tattoos!
The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is an annual event usually held the first weekend of June. It's three days of food, wine and entertainment for the whole family and is one of the largest events in the Valley. Held at Lake Skinner recreation area, 2009 marked the festival's 25th anniversary. For coverage of this year's Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival and for news and information on next year's event, visit their website at http://www.tvbwf.com