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Tuesday, 11 June 2013 18:36

Visitors Find Temecula Valley Horse Friendly

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Both horse owners and riders-to-be are making the Temecula Valley a popular destination these days. Kimberly Adams, president and CEO of the Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, has suggested 10 ways to enjoy the region in equestrian fashion. Horse in Corral next to Temecula Vnyd PicmonkeyOld Temecula and new in side by side scene.

“Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is horse-friendly with guided rides, picturesque trails, equestrian events (dressage, show jumping, polo), and popular dining, dancing, and accommodations,” she says. Horse-friendly stays are ideal for midweek visits when trails are less crowded, Adams advises and rates for lodging are often less than those on the weekends.

Home to more than 1500 acres of winegrape vineyards and 35 wineries, Temecula is a popular destination for visitors from the population centers of San Diego and Orange County that are an hour away. The city of Los Angeles is not much further, being just an hour-and-a-half distant.

From the 1800s until the 1960s, Temecula Valley was predominantly grazing land for cattle. The Vail Ranch spanned more than 87,500 acres and Temecula’s Old West lifestyle flourished. When the Vails sold their ranch, the valley transitioned to a pastoral, master planned community that would incorporate equestrian ranches and agriculture including wine grapes. Today the valley is widely recognized as Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country and for its vineyards and wineries producing quality wines. The valley is also noted for its equestrian ranches, equestrian center, and equestrian trails.

Ideas for a horse-friendly stay

1-Gaits In the Grapes Guided Trail Rides

Equestrian trail guides Gaits In the Grapes (GIG) provides the opportunity for visiting horse owners to ride some of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s beautiful, private vineyards as well as the larger Wine Country trails network. Less-busy weekdays are optimum for these rides. GIG strives to ensure safe, quality time “in and out of the saddle.” Guides attend to owners’ horses while visitors enjoy winery tours, wine tasting and restaurant dining or enjoying a picnic with vineyard views. GIG is also a resource for overnight, horse boarding suggestions.

2-Saddle Up Wine Tours on Horseback

Saddle Up Wine Tours provides gentle horses and guides for rides like the Historical Wine Tour. Guests ride alongside vineyards, ranches, and wineries along the De Portola Wine Trail. En route to wine tastings, riders learn of historical wine country anecdotes. Wine-tasting destinations include wineries such as Oak Mountain with wine tasting in the mountaintop veranda with valley views; Keyways Vineyard & Winery, one of Temecula Valley’s original wine estates with Early California ambiance; and Robert Renzoni Vineyards, recognized for its production of premium, Italian varietals. Saddle Up also offers basic, 1-hour-or-more, trail rides daily with horses provided.

3-Horse Drawn Carriage Rides through The Vineyards

Temecula Carriage Company provides wine tasting tours. In a horse-drawn carriage drawn, passengers travel leisurely along a scenic route through the vineyards. Along the way wineries are visited such as Leoness Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery, Lorimar Vineyards & Winery, and Ponte Family Estate, to taste award-winning wines. Guests also enjoy a gourmet, wine country picnic.

4-Equestrian Trails at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

Once part of the vast Vail cattle ranch, the 8,300-acre Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve offers visiting horse owners nearly seven miles of multi-use trails in the Sylvan Meadows area. Open sunrise to sunset and popular with local equestrians, trails include Sylvan Meadows, Cajalco Trail, Tovashol Trail, Shivela Trail, and Stevenson Canyon. The terrain is open, rolling hills with some oak woodlands and areas of chaparral. Riders-in-the-know get picnic fare to-go in advance (Campini’s just south of Downtown Old Town Temecula; E.A.T. Marketplace in Uptown Temecula), and enjoy dining al fresco under the oaks at the Sylvan Meadows picnic tables.

5-Equestrian Events at Galway Downs Equestrian Center

The 240-acre Galway Downs Equestrian Center is the site of shows like International Horse Trials where attendees enjoy gourmet food and drink, music, and the excitement of as many as 100 riders on horses galloping over imposing cross-country jumps. Throughout the year Galway Downs hosts eventing (“equestrian triathlons” that include dressage, cross-country, and show jumping). Galway Downs is also home to the new Temecula Valley Polo Club showcasing local and internationally renowned players. Companion to polo matches are exclusive charity events where attendees witness the grace of polo at catered luncheons.

6-Steakhouse Dining in Old Town Temecula and Uptown Temecula

In Old Town Temecula, the atmosphere and prime-beef fare at The Gambling Cowboy and Texas Lil’s Mesquite Grill recall Old West glory days when hitching posts lined Old Town streets and cattlemen, ranchers, and cowboys walked the boardwalks. The Gambling Cowboy features an elegant, late-19th century setting, and classic, fine steak and seafood. Texas Lil’s is Temecula Valley’s original ranch-style steakhouse with a menu that includes Angus choice rib eye steaks.

North of Old Town in Uptown Temecula within Temecula Hotel Row is innovative Vail Ranch Steakhouse. With the specialty of dry-aged prime steaks, an on-site dry-age process enhances steaks’ tenderness, moisture, and flavor. The dry aged Angus beef includes New York strip and rib eye.

7-Get Country Western at Temecula Stampede

Adjacent the southern Old Town Temecula gateway arch is the expansive country-western music venue and dance hall, the Temecula Stampede. The music, lyrics, two-step, line dancing, and bull riding make this a popular outpost for equestrian enthusiasts who love to dance.

8-Horseback Trail Rides and Wine Trail Rides at Vail Lake

Vail Lake was the eastern boundary of Temecula Valley’s historic Vail Cattle Ranch; which extended to the west as far as the Santa Rosa Plateau. Guided horseback trail rides are offered on-site at the 9,000 acre property, some of which combine scenic lake-view riding and a canyon ride to one of the De Portola Wine Trail’s wineries. Included are wine tasting, wine country meal, and entertainment.

9-Temecula Equestrians in the 4th of July Parade in Old Town Temecula

With untouched chaparral-covered hills as backdrop to the west, and the Mission-revival style Temecula Civic Center to the east, the Star-Spangled 4th of July Parade along Old Town Front Street is a festive, annual tradition. Among the parade’s most popular entries are the patriotic equestrian riders and horses accessorized in red-white-and-blue.

10-Supplies for Visiting Horse Owners in Temecula

Because Temecula Valley is a burgeoning equestrian area, the valley is also horse-friendly for visiting horse owners to find supplies. Dan’s Feed & Seed, just south of Old Town Temecula, carries horse feed, tack, and other supplies as well as western wear. Nearby Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country and Valle de Los Caballos is Big Horse Feed & Mercantile with a variety of feed, tack, and equestrian-friendly apparel.

Editor's note: More information about things to do in the Temecula Valley can be found at www.VisitTemecula.org . Links to the websites of all the wineries, as well as links to hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options can be found in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.    

Read 1442 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 19:07