Thursday, October 29, 2015

Temecula Wine Country's Harvest Celebration Offers a Unique Pairing and Tour Experience

Experience wine tasting at its culinary finest during Temecula Wine Country's Harvest Celebration Sunday, November 8, 2015.  
This is a full day of sampling carefully chosen wines paired with chef’s creations and delectable nosh from 10 wineries.
A  one-of-a-kind experience, guests are treated to wines that are not always sampled in the tasting rooms.  Some wineries will be offering barrel or cask tastings, while others are pulling out their Private Reserves. 

Tasty menu items include Mediterranean-style short ribs at Falkner Winery;  House-made Chorizo & Date Empanada, White Truffled Parsnip Puree, Chile-Spiced Slaw, Gingersnap Cookie & Blue Cheese at Europa Village; Sliced Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin topped with Pork Stock Reduction  over Herbed Harvest Stuffing at Danza del Sol; and Boeuf Bourguignon with Fresh Mushrooms and Pearl Onions, plus Pumpkin Spice Cake with Warm Caramel Sauce at Baily Vineyard and Winery's "invitation only" production facility.

This is the 25th annual Harvest Celebration in Temecula Wine Country. While much of the event will be familiar, organizers have changed the format this year and made adjustments to appeal to wine aficionados.

Previously organized by the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, ​a more intimate version of the event will be hosted ​this year ​by Grapeline Wine Tours, a Temecula-based company that offers wine tasting tours in Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Temecula.

"The event was difficult for the Winegrowers Association to sustain," explained Kim Kelliher, Grapeline's president.  "Winery participation was mandatory, and as wine country grew more popular, many wineries could no longer adequately handle the all-weekend event.  We realized we could make ​some desired changes and keep the tradition alive."
The traditional event format  - showcasing samples of premium wines and chef-inspired food pairings - remains the same.  The new features include hosted transportation for every guest, a shift from a two-day weekend format to only one day on the less-busy Sunday, and optional participation by ​​Temecula wineries.
Harvest-goers ​aboard Grapeline mini-coaches ​will stop at eight of the ten participating wineries.  The wineries include​:​ Baily, Callaway, Carter Estate, Cougar, Danza del Sol, Doffo, Europa Village, Falkner, Lorimar, and Oak Mountain.

Several stops will be unique and first-time ever experiences. Several wineries will offer live entertainment.

Oak Mountain Winery will present their Harvest offering inside their newly excavated 11,000 square foot wine cave.  The cave reaches a depth of more than 100 feet below the surface. Guests will sample Oak Mountain's 2012 Fume Blanc, 2012 Syrah, and Caveman Red.

Carter Estate Winery  will participate in its first-ever Harvest Celebration.  The newly-opened winery is the second for Jim Carter, proprietor of three-time California Winery of the Year, South Coast Winery.  Carter Estate will offer tastings of Carter Estate Winery Blanc de Blanc, Carter Estate Winery Penrose, and Carter Estate Chardonnay.

As an added bonus to encourage wine purchases, Grapeline is offering its Harvest guests a $50 gift certificate toward future tours for anyone who purchases at least four bottles of wine or joins a wine club on the day of the event​.​

Grapeline was founded in 2002 by Kim and John Kelliher.  The company provides wine tasting tours and transportation services to more than 25,000 guests annually in four California wine regions.  Earlier this year, the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce named Grapeline a Business of the Year for the second time.  The company maintains a five-star average on all major review sites, with more five-star reviews than any other Temecula activity provider. For more information call (951) 693-5755 or visit

Contact: John Kelliher, Co-owner.  951 693-5755. 
Grapeline Website:                              
Winery Websites:
Baily Vineyard & Winery:                       
Callaway Winery:                                 
Carter Estate Winery & Resort:         
Cougar Vineyard & Winery:                
Danza del Sol Winery:                          
Doffo  Winery:                                      
Europa Village:                                      
Falkner Winery:                                     
Lorimar Winery:                     
Oak Mountain Winery:                        

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Local Talent Shares the Balloon & Wine Festival Stage with Heavy Hitters Chris Young, Daughtry, & Plain White T's

 The 2015 Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival will feature performances by several local groups May 29-31 at Lake Skinner Recreation Area.
            Opening on the main stage on Friday at 5:30 pm. is Kanan Road a local country band with regional popularity. The band has just released their new album "Back on Track," which is now available on CD or digital download at  iTunes, CDBaby, and  all Kanan Road shows.  Kanan, Kyle and Kory Cox formed Kanan Road over 15 years ago as teenagers in Palmdale, California.  They named the band after the road their father used to take to the beach in Malibu, CA.  
            Friday night also showcases local talented show choir Resonate. Kicking off the evening balloon glow at 8:30 p.m. Resonate will perform a rendition of Van Morrison's "Moon Dance." The choral group  has performed throughout Southern California including Universal Studios, USS Midway, Disneyland, Mission Inn Festival of Lights and Temecula's newest signature event, the "New Year's Eve Grape Drop Countdown Bash."
            Saturday, the Festival hosts a full line up of local talent on the Wine Stage. Beginning at 11 a.m. with Lindsay Carrier, a 20-year-old singer songwriter from Temecula,  the Wine Garde

ns will be singing with local talent including  the Tim Moyer Band and J.D. Priest.  Alaina Blair, Carlsbad-native and Country/pop singer will also perform Saturday.  
            Saturday's evening balloon glow welcomes  Synchronized Vocal Jazz Ensemble back to the Wine Stage arena. Last year the Vista Murrieta High School group directed by Jennifer Page, introduced a new element to the Balloon Glow with the "flash" choir concept and a tribute to the "Wicked" hot air balloon glowing that night. Their performance and participation won the Festival a Silver award for best new promotional activity  at the International Festival's and Events Association 2014 Convention.  They will be performing "Glow," a song written by   Nick Baumhardt, Josh Crosby, Brittany Nicole Waddell.
Chris Young on the Main Stage Sunday
            Sunday's wine stage will include the Q103 and Radio 945 Rising Star band competition winners. The bands have been submitting their music to the iHeart Radio judges. Public voting for the bands began May 8. Midnight Satellites will represent Q103 and Blood Type G will represent Radio 945.
            Local band Lifetime Rocker will close out the wine stage performances with their hybrid band The Heart of Rock N Roll  performing a tribute to Huey Lewis.
Local wineries and chefs are showcasing their talent in the Food and Wine Pairing event where premium Temecula Valley Wines are paired with executive chefs from Cafe Champagne at Thornton Winery, Baily's Restaurant, Rustico Ristorante & Pizzeria,  Monte de Oro Bistro, Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant, La Bella Vita Restaurant, Primal Cravings, Smokey Mountain Catering, and E.A.T Marketplace & Eatery.  
The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is held at Lake Skinner Recreation area in the heart of Temecula Valley Wine Country.  For Festival information visit or call (951) 676-6713.

Daughtry headlines the stage Saturday with Plain White T's and John Waite. The Main Stage is sponsored by Pechanga Resort & Casino

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Balloon & Wine Festival Announces Concert Additions of Plain White T's, Gloriana, Love & Theft, and Chase Bryant

TEMECULA, CA -  Catching the Country wave sweeping the U.S. music industry, the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival will feature two days of Country Music on the Main Stage sponsored by Pechanga Resort  & Casino. Country Friday, a traditional Country day will feature Gloriana, Love and Theft, and Chase Bryant. Sunday, a departure from the Freestyle Motocross Show, will feature Chris Young, currently  No. 4 on the Billboard Charts, with  "Lonely Eyes." The hit is No. 2 on Billboard's Country station play list.

Gloriana, currently with the song "Trouble" No. 29 on the Country airplay list, makes a return visit to the Festival stage.  The group's 2009 debut album was No. 3 on the Top 200 Billboard chart and spawned a gold- certified hit single with "Wild At Heart." They won the American Music Award for Breakthrough Artist and in 2010 Gloriana won the Academy of Country Music Award for Top New Vocal Group. Their hit song "(Kissed You) Good Night" made No. 2 on the charts and was certified platinum in the United States. Gloriana has opened for Jason Aldean, Brooks & Dunn, Zac Brown, and in 2012 opened at the Festival for Chris Cagle and Phil Vassar.

Love and Theft first galvanized fans in 2009 with the Top 10 hit "Runaway."  That breakthrough success set the stage for their debut album "World Wide Open,"  which produced the hit single "Dancing In Circles."  After a move from the Carolwood label to RCA, the duo (Stephen

Barker-Liles and Eric Gunderson)  scored their first No. 1 single with "Angel Eyes," which was featured on Love and Theft's self-titled second album, along with the hits "Runnin' Out of Air" and "If You Ever Get Lonely."

Relative newcomer, Chase Bryant has quickly made a name for himself on the Country scene. Bryant’s debut single, “Take It On Back,” was a top 10 smash and one of the fastest rising singles of 2014 by a male country artist. It has reached 1-million combined views on YouTube/ VEVO.  Bryant joins  Tim McGraw’s Shotgun Rider Tour 2015 this summer and toured with Brantley' Gilbert in 2014. 
His video(  “Take It On Back” spent 14 weeks on the CMT Hot 20 Countdown, was a Great American Country TV (GAC)  Top 20 Country Countdown hit and a Top 20 Most Watched Video on VEVO TV Nashville.
Plain White T's joins Daughtry for the Rockin' Country  Saturday lineup.  Plain White T's is best known for their mega hit "Hey There Delilah."  The 18th most downloaded song of all time, is just one in a string of hits that includes "1,2,3,4" and "Rhythm of Love."  Currently on a European tour, the group releases  their new Indie album "American Nights"  March 31.  The album includes singles "Pause,"  "Stay"  and "Love Again." Fans can see the "Pause" video at .
Daughtry, a band carrying the name of the lead singer and guitarist Chris Daughtry,  with four No. 1 hits,  four Grammy nominations, four American Music Awards, and over 8 million albums
sold, has sold out concerts around the world. Daughtry will headline the Rocking Wine Country Saturday concert lineup.
Chris Daughtry gained notoriety during "American Idol" Season 5 where he placed fourth and immediately signed with RCA Records.   Daughtry’s self-titled debut was the fastest selling rock debut in Soundscan history and its follow up "Leave This Town" marked the quintet’s second consecutive No. 1 album. Daughtry’s third album "Break The Spell"  was certified gold within four weeks of its release.  "Baptized," Daughtry's fourth album peaked at No. 3 with the singles "Waiting for Superman," and "Long Live Rock & Roll."  The single "Witness" was released February 20, 2015.
Country sensation Chris Young will headline the Pechanga Main Stage on Sunday.  At the age of 29, Young,  was dubbed as "one of country music’s most reliable hit makers” by USA Today.  A Grammy-nominated recording artist, Young plays a powerhouse show packed with hits, including chart toppers “Gettin’ You Home,” “The Man I Want To Be,” “Voices,” “Tomorrow,” “You” and “Who I Am With You.” He’s amassed six  No. 1 singles, seven Gold/Platinum certifications and performed for audiences ranging from ABC’s “Good Morning America” to Australia and Dublin to “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is held at Lake Skinner Recreation area in the heart of Temecula Valley Wine Country.  Located just north of San Diego County, the Festival has a successful  history of celebrating Southern California Wine Country’s finest assets of clear skies dotted by hot air balloons, mild temperatures, and rolling vineyards. For Festival information visit or call (951) 676-6713.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Great Temecula Grape Drop Countdown New Year's Eve Bash


A family-friendly New Year's Eve Celebration sponsored by the City of Temecula. A giant illuminated bunch of glowing grapes descends from the bell tower

41000 Main Street and throughout Old Town Temecula

December 31st, 2014,  6 p.m. to 12:15 January 1, 2015

NYE Hat Making
Civic Center
Dynamite Dave
5-9 p.m.
Town Square
Face Painter
5-9 p.m.
Town Square
6-8:30 p.m.
Civic Center Plaza
Emcee Eric Cahill
6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Civic Center Plaza
Valley Winds
6-9 p.m.
Main Street, Serendipity

Party Jump
5 pm-9 pm
Town Square
Dr. Good John
Main Street
Geoffrey Gaier/DG
Front and Main Street
Safety Orange

Civic Center Plaza

Free, free free admission.
There is a fee to skate on the ice rink, food and beverages can be purchased at Town Square. See Temecula On Ice for more information.

Free, at 3rd & Mercedes Parking Garage - 3 levels, 6th and Mercedes, and 1st Street/Stampede.
Additional parking along street.

There are plenty of restaurants in Old Town Temecula. Some of them have packages for the New Year's Eve Grape Drop Bash, others do not. Most have reservations except Rosa's Cantina and Mad Madelines. Food Vendors at Town Square will provide basic hot and cold beverages, hot dogs and  other items for a fee. Alcohol is not permitted on city streets, parks or property. You may find wine, beer and spirits at most restaurants and/or wine bars in Old Town Temecula. Picnic baskets with food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed.

Patio heaters are provided on the "Quad" at the civic center in front of the Great Temecula Grape Drop. The civic center will also remain open during the event for people to warm up and or play board games, etc. Please be advised to wear VERY WARM CLOTHING this year. Temperatures will drop to 30 degrees. Bring blankets and have umbrellas in case of showers.


Only a limited amount of chairs are provided at the Valley Winds performance at the Main Street Parking Lot. Other seating in civic center however you are advised to bring your own folding chairs.

The custom created grapes are seven feet wide, 12 feet long and made of  4,500 LED lights, 150 purple balls, 40 that are internally illuminated, and 10 green illuminated leaves.  The grapes were created by Melody Brunsting of Melody's Ad Works, Inc.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Old Town Temecula's Santa Tradition Unites Old Friends

Thanksgiving was an eight-day work week and I've logged in 112 hours since November 23 - making snowflakes, painting grapes, setting up events and just working the Christmas activities.  The life of an event producer as Bing Crosby points out in “Holiday Inn” means you work an extra day, night, weekend. The trade off is downtime when everyone else works.

I love what I do. I was raised in Anaheim, California, a few blocks from Disneyland with an artist for a mother and an adman/promoter for a father. I love old Hollywood musicals and the formulaic "Let's put on a show," plots. Somehow, though, I have always identified with Doris Walker of "Miracle on 34th Street" more than Judy Garland. I like to be behind the scenes making it happen.

This year I did something I do rarely, I became a part of the show by riding on the Temecula Carriages Trolley through Old Town Temecula as it escorted a 50 person choir and Santa to his cabin at Pennypickle’s Workshop. I’m always amazed when a crowd looks larger than anticipated. Last year we had rain and had half our normal crowd. This year the crowd tripled. They packed Main Street east of Old Town Front, the west a few hundred feet. The new location afforded more spectators and viewing of the procession. Some spectators cheered at Town Square Park as the procession made the circle.  It warmed my heart.

For 15 years we have brought Santa to Old Town Temecula. About 12 years ago we started the procession to his “workshop."  Eight years ago a local business owner built Santa’s first house. It was a gingerbread house in design. It unfortunately warped after the second year, then leaked. 

We were BLESSED five years ago the Tahquitz Boy Scouts offered to build a new home. They had helped us take pictures when we were in a tent that required redecorating each week. Repainted the “gingerbread house twice” and then when the call came for a MODULAR and durable home,  two Eagle Scouts came forth. One – an adult – BRUIN PAINTING – OWNER – donated the design and build of the house. Tommy Byrnes, Eagle Scout from Canyon Lake, coordinated the   painting, decorating and assembly effort, including painting the snowmen on the workshop.

This year – we moved to new FLAT quarters with a REAL WOOD FLOOR at Pennypickle’s Workshop/Temecula Children’s Museum.  They repainted and re-purposed the building making this Penny
pickle's  cabin that hosts Santa each year.  I say all this because this is how the community works best – everyone working for the best possible outcome. Santa always brings out the best in all of us. 

This year there was a special request. One of the adult women who helped with the Tommy Byrnes house was fighting Breast Cancer for the fourth time as we pained snowmen. She requested a pink ribbon or snowflake.  I painted a pink snowflake and tied a pink ribbon to it. She and her family, grandchildren and children, came to see Santa and the house that night.

Which brings me to the reason for all of this – I am thankful. I am blessed with a wide range of friends with diverse talents, interests and lifestyles. They always want to help. Walking from Pennypickle’s to the Stampede where Santa and his reindeer landed at 5:45 p.m. Friday, I ran into many of these friends. 

One friend had her grandchildren waiting for the Giant Elf’s balloon art.  Another friend, (one I have known since I was 16), has the best decorated business in town this year. If you agree – head to the website and vote. It’s the house that created snow on their fence by combining icicle lights, hand cutting white shelving material into icicles and ordering WHITE garland from the east coast.  A walk down Main Street and you will know who I mean.

Why should Santa Arrive in a horse drawn carriage, ride through OLD TOWN TEMECULA on Thanksgiving Weekend, sit for hours greeting the children and their parents?  It is a 1 5-old tradition.  This tradition provides free, easy access to Santa at the end of Black Friday in a small town homey atmosphere where all is touchable, hug able and emotionally appealing.  Then line is also significantly shorter than other places in town.

Greeting the residents, friends and neighbors this night is often the only time during the year that I see lifetime friends. Boy Scouts raise funds to go to camp while helping people visit Santa.

During the procession  I ran into a young woman I have seen occasionally at my events for the past 10 years.

“I’ve known Melody since I was 11,” she told her kids. They were sitting on a blanket in line, waiting to see Santa. I can’t believe I have known her that long. She asked how I was doing and I was in a hurry from one destination to the next.  “Okay, weird year.”

She confided that she had a rough year. She had lost her 12-year-old daughter a few months to cancer.  Mist filled both of our eyes. I couldn't believe the hardship this “kid” has seen and yet there she was, with her entire family – watching Santa arrive in Old Town. A small moment of normalcy for her and her year of trauma was a one-second Epiphany for me. 

We all live within our own storyboards. Sometimes we are so immersed at surviving a storm, enduring a hardship or just “getting by” that we don’t see the world around us. But this one night, one 15-minute window unites old friends, creates new friends, inspires young, and revitalizes generations within one family. It’s magical.   

I read a post of one woman who wiped mist from her eyes as she saw the carriages proceed down Main Street. Holding her newborn and watching from the sidewalk, she saw her husband drive the of y team that pulled a trolley full young carolers. She normally drives Santa in the carriage and this year delighted in the crowd as they cheered the procession.

Old Town Temecula is the heart and soul of this community. Glowing snowflakes on light posts and in the street, a musical Christmas tree in Town Square, Snowbell Rockin’ Nights with snow fall, lights and music synchronized, and now the Ice Rink – it is all a gift to the community and a treasure for the season.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Old Town Temecula Street Painting & Plein Air Art Festival

Fine artists of all ages will be colorizing  Old Town Temecula during the Street Painting and Arts Festival,  June 20-22. Artists will start their works of art on Monday June 16 and continue throughout the week, while street painters and muralists will begin Friday even, June 20th.
Plein air is a French expression, meaning "in the  open air" or painting outdoors.  Plein air artists begin painting Old Town Temecula scenes on canvas and paper,  Monday, June 16,   while string artists  decorate  benches, trees, the gazebo,  and other objects at Sam Hicks Memorial Park.  Titled Yarn Splash,  the string  projects  will be completed Saturday,  June 21. The yarn art remains  in place  through August 24.
Plein air artists paint with oils, water color, pastels and acrylics, through Sunday, June 22. . Temecula's plein air festival is inspired by Ralph Love, a popular California plein air artist who lived and taught in Temecula. His Art Shack was located where Baily's Old Town Dining is now located.
Artwork completed during the Ralph Love Plein Air Festival will  be on display in the Temecula Civic Center, 41000 Main Street,  Saturday and Sunday.  
Muralists, pastel artists, and painters cover the black top of Main and Mercedes Streets at Town Square Park, with vibrant pastel paintings.  With asphalt as their canvas,  street painters have been painting Old Town Temecula's streets for 14 years.  Artists come from as far away as Arizona and Washington to participate in Old Town's Street Painting Festival. Over 140 artists painted 92 murals in 2013.
A unique aspect to Temecula's Street Painting Festival is the family and youth area provided. Here young artists and their parents can paint small two-foot-by-two-foot blocks using the very same pastels that the master painters use for their 10-foot by 12 foot murals. More than  1,800 squares will be made for participants. THIS IS FREE as is admission to all of the art activities.
"It will take most artists 24 hours to finish the largest murals," explained the event coordinator Melody Brunsting. "It's fun to watch their creations develop from a light sketch to a vivid painting. Yet, for the artist, it is a grueling endeavor on hands and knees," she added.
 Street Painting  applications are available at the City of Temecula as well as online at  Street Painting begins at 5 p.m. Friday, June 20. Saturday and Sunday hours are 10 5 p.m. Most artists, however,  begin painting at 7 a.m. both days, with some painting into the night Saturday. All murals must be complete by 3 p.m. Sunday for judging.

All three artistic endeavors are part of the Temecula Art Festival. Artists will also display and sell fine art paintings, ceramics and jewelry during the Art Festival June 20-22 at the Temecula Civic Center.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wine Barrel Races - What A Kick

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival had their 3rd annual Wine Barrel Races on April 26 and the Promenade Mall in Temecula.

Congratulations to Vienza Ferrari, Kayla Manning and Brandon Braaksma - for being the fastest, Wine Police by Barely Living for being the Best of Show. Great races by all including the US Forest Service, Speed Racer, the Promenade Champaigns and Absolute Dog Grooming.  Get your barrels ready for next year - you could win reserved concert seats.