Riding Temecula’s Wine Country
Chaps & Chablis
“Temecula is known for wine—and horses,” says T.J. Davis, owner of Saddle Up Wine Tours (saddleuptours.com), which offers small-group tours through Temecula’s Wine Country. Indeed, this temperate horse haven not only is home to world-class trainers (such as Bob Avila) and trail enthusiasts seeking year-round riding, it also nurtures 40-plus wineries. For wine lovers, this sets the stage for the ultimate riding vacation.
The Facts: 67.4 | Average December high temperature in Temecula in degrees Fahrenheit.
Davis established Saddle Up Wine Tours to raise funds for the horses she rescues. She has an all-volunteer staff, and every horse in her trail string is a rescue. Davis will also take you on a vineyard and wine-tasting tour aboard your own horse; experienced riders travel at the faster gaits.
Juanita Koth owns Gaits in the Grapes (gaitsinthegrapes.com). Designed exclusively for horse owners, GIG offers an all-inclusive trip experience, from a customized vineyard tour with after-ride wine-tasting to a Vines-to-Views ride, a hot-springs excursion, and fine dining.
“We want people to feel they have a really good friend who lives here,” she says.
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Take a step back in time in 1. Old Town Temecula as you browse Old West buildings, antique stores, boutiques, and the holiday-oriented WinterFest, held December through February. After a long ride, go for a soak at 2. Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona.
Enjoy a reining show or country-Western concert at 6. Galway Downs, a top area venue for all things equestrian. Pamper yourself—and go on a hot-air balloon ride—at the award-winning 7. South Coast Winery Resort & Spa.
Wild West Roots
Established in 1849, the Temecula area was a Wild West town then a working cattle ranch. It was a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage Line; in 1882, a Santa Fe Railway station was built. The city celebrates its Western heritage during its annual Old Town Temecula Western Days.