Horse Life: Travel to Temecula, California

Juanita Koth of Gaits in the Grapes takes you on a vineyard tour aboard your own horse.




Riding Temecula’s Wine Country



Chaps & Chablis

 “Temecula is known for wine—and horses,” says T.J. Davis, owner of Saddle Up Wine Tours (, 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.  


Diamond J Horses/Richard Johnson for Gaits in the Grapes

The Facts: 67.4 | Average December high temperature in Temecula in degrees Fahrenheit.

Diamond J Horses/Richard Johnson for Gaits in the Grapes

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 ( 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.

Don’t Miss This


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.


For dinner, try 3. The Gambling Cowboy in Old Town. “My absolute favorite,” says T.J. Davis, who also recommends 4. Texas Lil’s Mesquite Grill for Tex-Mex and 5. Mad Madeline’s Grill for burgers.


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.

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