Temecula California is fast becoming a highly sought after region to enjoy a world-class resort along with boutique wine, craft beer and more. – California Dreamin'

Temecula California is fast becoming a highly sought after region to enjoy a world-class resort along with boutique wine, craft beer and more.

Temecula California is a tranquil valley noted for “sunshine through the mist,” by the Luiseno Native American Indians. Burgeoning vineyards have now morphed through the mist and dot the landscape of this once sleepy bedroom community of Los Angeles, drawing hundreds of past-time pleasure-seekers into its quaint two-lane main-street and beyond and even above the outlying areas as ballooning is one of the top tourist excursions that truly gives visitors a unique vantage point of Temecula’s gorgeous surroundings. Temecula has fast transpired into a-go to place for wine aficionados and culinarians seeking the perfect olive-oil, artisan spices, or world-class dining over-looking a vineyard. Distilleries, breweries, meaderies, and even a well-hidden speakeasy are emerging alongside the rolling miles of vineyards. A mere four-hour drive from the Las Vegas area, we found a very doable weekend getaway within our reach for those days when we want to leave the dusty desert landscape for a refreshing glass of rose in the fresh air and ambient sunshine.

With only a few days for discovery, we found that staying at Pechanga Resort and Casino is not a far stretch from our home environment. With over 1,000 rooms and plenty of gaming, no Las Vegan will feel left behind in their pursuit of the perfect weekend get-away.

What to do: Ballooning is big business in Temecula and we went up, up and away with Captain Dave Bradley of California Dreamin Balloon Adventures and Vindemia Vineyard & Winery. Weather is ALWAYS on the mind of the balloon navigator, and a customary courtesy phone call the night before gave us the good-to-go meeting time-a very early at 5 a.m. As the sliver of the new-moon shone brightly in the velvet black-blue twilight, we wove through the rolling countryside hoping the GPS would guide us to the obscure location. Once there we were guided in the darkness by the silhouetted outline of parking attendants holding glow –sticks indicating where to safely park our cars in the still inky darkness. Blankets were then handed out to the sleepy crowd as we huddled beneath several heat lamps waiting for the rising sun. Once day-light emerged, it proved to be a cloudless and seemingly windless day on the horizon. As our young driver called for our group to enter a long white van, I spied a large black helium balloon in the front seat along-side our driver. From the back of the van, someone quipped,” I thought the balloon was a bit bigger than that,” we all let out a collective laugh as we drove along to a spot where this mystery balloon showed its merit. The driver stopped, got out, releasing the balloon goes as a way to test the wind speed and direction.

Fly high above the Temecula wine country with the The oldest balloon in the world! CUISINEIST IGTV

Not happy with the result, Captain Dave decided to move our location more outside of town for a safer launch site. In his capable hands, with over decades of experience, we went forward with confidence and relief that this man takes his job seriously.


Watching the crew maneuver and inflate voluminous yards of colorful flowing canvas with the aid of a billowing flame, formed a sense of awe and spectacle as the once flat fabric grew and expanded into a colorful aerodynamic wonder. Fabric, a basket and a flame in the hands of a master, turns into one of the most remarkable ways to ascend into the heavens. Looking down from our basket perch, the morning sun hazily broke through the misty ground fog, as we were carried higher and higher through the stunning silence above the diminishing landscape. The silence is so pervasive that everyone falls beneath a spell of reverence for the moment, for the beauty, for the ability to rise like a bird above the retreating earthly elements.



Ballooning is often sought as a bucket list adventure but it really should be on everyone’s must-do regardless of time and space. Once on the ground, a delightful round of sparkling wine and orange juice awaited us our silence was broken with each sip and thrilled response to our safe landing. More was to await us in the Vineyard.

Balloon into Vindemia Winery with pilot and winemaker David Bradley on CUISINEIST IGTV

 Where to Sip: Wine tasting is on the minds of most people traversing the 405 or the 15 into Temecula. With over 40 plus wineries and growing, Dave Bradley and his wife Gail alongside a hearty crew creatively combined winemaking and balloon navigation that brilliantly showcases the splendor of land and air at their Vindemia Vineyard & Winery. Once on the ground, we were introduced to a line-up of wines that were both delightful, aromatic with good structure and balance. The 2018 Sauvignon Blanc was both refreshing with a more complex style as that of white Bordeaux.

Captian Dave Bradley and owner of Vindemia giving us the full line up of his remarkable wines.

Although half our day had been spent flying high above the vineyard and on the ground tasting the fruit of the earth, we still had one more winery to check out and that was at nearby Doffo winery. From Italian ancestors who immigrated to Argentina in the 1800’s, a young Marcelo Doffo developed a true connection to terrior and farming at a young age. Eventually coming to the United States, he took his family’s wine-making heritage and began planting vines on his cattle ranch property located in the Temecula Valley as a personal hobby. Once neighbors and other locals started tasting his wines, his wines were highly sought after eventually moving forward to a full-fledged winery and vineyard.



“Since the property is located adjacent to the main highway, people would stop by the property to try the wines thinking it already was a winery before one actually opened,” said their affable tasting room manager. Today the family is all in on running and producing world-class wines as well as enjoying a racer lifestyle in the motorcycle world.

Marcelo and his brother Jorge took their passion for motorcycles began an auto body shop in their early years where today the family showcases over 200 motorcycles and scooters from around the world on the Vineyard property as well as participate in major motorcycle competitions. Their Malbec-forward red blend is a crowd favorite that can be enjoyed at the Moto Doffo Barrel Room where wine and motorcycle enthusiasts can sip and swirl while gawking at the extensive vintage motorcycle collection.


See full article HERE.

by Elaine and Scott Harris

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