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21 Green, Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Things to Do and Experience in 2014 in Temecula Valley

Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:00 PM

TEMECULA VALLEY Southern California Wine Country - "Visitors are invited to enjoy 20 Green, Sustainable, and Eco-Friendly Things to Do and Experience - events, destinations, and activities - in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. From tasting the difference sustainable farming in vineyards, groves, and ranches makes; and hiking rare, protected landscapes; to distinctive art, eclectic fashion, pure and natural products and spa treatments, and more," announced Kimberly Adams, Visit Temecula Valley president and CEO. "Less-busy weekdays are especially great for green visits and potential conversations with talented winemakers and artisans, and gracious winemaking families, ranchers, and merchants. Temecula hotels and resorts also offer appealing (better-than-weekend) Sunday-through-Thursday nightly room rates." Welcoming 2 million visitors each year and featuring Downtown Old Town Temecula, Temecula Valley Wine Country, Pechanga Resort & Casino, and the Temecula Wine Country Golf Trail, the casual picturesque Temecula Valley is located 60 minutes from San Diego, Orange County, and Palm Springs; 90 minutes from Los Angeles and Hollywood.

1- Temecula Valley Wine Country World of Wine Barrel Tasting Weekend:

Recycled-Cork Art Contest (March 1 and 2)

In conjunction with Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association World of Wine Barrel Tasting weekend, participating wineries will also display and compete in a recycled-cork art contest; World of Wine passport holders will select the winning artwork by voting for their favorite cork creation. The first Temecula Valley Wine Country passport event of 2014 includes a self-guided wine country tour to 30+ wineries; the opportunity to taste varietal wines from barrel, tank, or bottle; and savor samplings of perfectly paired, exceptional wine country cuisine.

2-Old Town Temecula California-Certified Farmers Markets

      (March 1, 15, 22, 29; April 5, 12, 19, 26; and May 3, 10, 17, 24)

Distinctively sweet, fresh-picked, organic strawberries are one of the spring season's greatest highlights at the Saturday morning, Old Town Temecula California-Certified Farmers Market. Organic and heirloom lettuces and spring vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, and kale); and organic avocados and citrus abound as well. Local ranchers display free-range eggs and free-range chicken; and local, artisan purveyors showcase healthful items like natural, goat-milk soap, natural pet foods, and vermiculture for home gardens and houseplants. The festive market (held on Sixth Street between Old Town Front and Mercedes, just south of the northern Old Town gateway arch) is impressive even to visitors with a farmers market in their own hometown.

3-Olive Ranch Tours of Temecula Olive Oil Company

      (March 8, 22; April 12, 26; and May 10, 24)

At Temecula Olive Oil Company's 26-acre/10.5 hectare Olive View Ranch in the rural countryside east of Old Town Temecula, tours are offered exclusively by advance reservation on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. The family-owned-and-operated business uses only 100% California olives to make the freshest, highest quality, 100% extra-virgin olive oil. "We are the growers! We grow the olives; we pick the olives; we press the olives and you are able to taste our hand-crafted olive oils." The learning experience highlights sustainable agriculture practices; the planting, growing, and harvesting of a wide variety of olives to capture unique qualities and distinctive flavors; the unique mill and press; and cold pressing to extract oil form the fruit. After the tour, participants experience an olive oil tasting and tasting of balsamic vinegars including Temecula Olive Oil Company signature, varietal and limited-edition blends. A visit to Olive View Ranch is also memorable for the outdoor experience of the olive groves, and the flower and vegetable gardens.

4-Grape Day in Temecula Valley Wine Country (April 17)

Aspiring and current winegrowers, vintners, and the wine-curious can attend (by advance reservation) a full day of education and insights about winemaking. Open to the public and hosted by Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association at South Coast Winery, the Grape Day conference unites winegrowers, vintners, and educators, to share insights on best practices for growing, making, and selling fine wine. Speakers and topics are yet to be announced but presentations typically include facets of sustainable winegrowing as well as subjects such as wine sensory and olfactory education, managing vine balance, and regional marketing.

5-Earth to Wine Tours at South Coast Winery (April 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 at 3 p.m.)

With certified sustainable vineyards and winery under the strict standards of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance program created by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers, South Coast Winery has received triple recognition as California State Winery of the Year (judged to be, as such three of the past five years). Exclusively by advance reservation (space is limited), visitors may join in on unique Earth to Wine Tours. Learn about different grape varietals and soil compositions that create unique flavors and tastes. A wine pairing and chef's special creation are also included.

The 39-acre/15-hectare South Coast Winery estate includes a state-of-the-art winery surrounded by its own carefully tended vines. Also on-site is the Vineyard Rose restaurant, open daily, and winner of the 2013 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The elegant, Tuscan-inspired dining room and outdoor terrace feature California contemporary wine country cuisine prepared using the freshest locally grown ingredients.

6-Recycled Art & Fashion Show at Monte de Oro Winery (April 26)

Recycled art and fashion have become popular throughout California and around the world, with artist and designers using recycled items in their creations. Wine and hors d'oeuvres are companion to displays of distinctive artwork made from a great variety of different, repurposed, and recycled components, and an adventuresome fashion show of ultimately eclectic and creative designs. Sophisticated and inviting, Monte de Oro Winery features a glass floor tasting room and an outdoor patio with a panoramic view of Temecula Valley Wine Country.

7-GrapeSeed Spa at South Coast Winery: Relax and Rejuvenate

Always trending, the GrapeSeed Spa at South Coast Winery has commenced a "Nature to Nurture" series of body treatments with luxuriant Vichy shower. Desert Gold is composed of rich minerals that gently detoxify the skin, help tone, and in the process re-mineralize to help balance skin; essential oils of sweet orange and ylang ylang soothe the body, mind, and soul. Red Mountain Sage is composed of clay and essential oil of sage that possesses the ability to pull out toxins and help cleanse skin to reveal a healthy glow. Advance reservations are required; less-busy weekdays are especially relaxing and rejuvenating.

8-Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve: Hike and See

A haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts, the nearly 9,000-acre/3,642-hectare Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve harbors some of California's rarest landscapes - Englemann oak woodlands, riparian wetlands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, bunchgrass prairie and more. Daily throughout the year from sunrise to sunset, visitors can explore 40 miles/ 64 kilometers of trails. In April and May, wildflowers may bloom throughout the reserve including chocolate lilies among the native bunchgrass prairie; shooting stars along the Adobe Loop trail; and lupines along the Los Santos trail. Early mornings, California quail frequent areas near the visitors center. Visitors may also see very blue Western Bluebirds, and yellow Western Meadowlarks throughout the reserve. Inquire at the visitors center (open Tuesday through Sunday) to learn of the Vail family's sustainable ranching practices and how they were wise stewards of the property from 1904 to 1964.

9-Cunningham Organic Farm: Tour and Taste

Tour, learn, pick, sample, and taste special tree crops in-season at eclectic Cunningham Organic Farm, located west of Old Town Temecula and nestled in the hills next to the Cleveland National Forest. Citrus abounds including 13 different varieties of tangerines, oranges, Meyer lemons, and fragrant, Buddha's hand citron, plus cocktail grapefruit (a sweet juicy cross between a pommelo and a mandarin). With Hass, Fuerte, Reed, and Pinkerton avocados, quot;alligator pear" is typically in-season almost continuously throughout the year. There are three different guavas; loquats; bananas; kumquats; and cherimoya. In autumn, look for fuyu persimmons and likely witness the drying operation. A memorable picnic area hosts hill and mountain views. Groups of 4 to 20 people are welcome exclusively by advance reservation year-round.

10-Temecula Olive Oil Company: Taste and Shop

The most renowned establishment on the Old Town Temecula Tasting Trail is likely Temecula Olive Oil Company. Open year-round, the family-owned-and-operated business is committed to using only 100% California olives to make the freshest, highest quality, 100% extra-virgin olive oil. Exceptionally fresh, the way nature intended, savoring the purity dramatically illustrates that Temecula Olive Oil Company's sustainable growing practices and the old world process make all the difference. Taste and learn at the (complimentary daily) olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tasting bar - actually intriguing and informative, mini-classes in food ideas. The Old Town shop staff is knowledgeable and gracious and helps make shopping a sublime adventure.

11-Temecula Lavender Company: Browse and Shop

Located in Downtown Old Town Temecula, Temecula Lavender Company handcrafts pure-ingredient (no artificial colorants, no perfumes, and no harsh preservatives), all natural, quality, small-batch products inspired by the herb of peace, purification, sleep, and longevity. The friendly boutique features healthful lavender products for the bath, body, and home. From bath salts, bubble bath, hand soap, body butter, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, and aromatic tub tea; to candles, essential oils, and sachets.

12-Journey at Pechanga: Golf and Dine

With respect for the natural habitat and Pechanga heritage, design and construction of the top-ranked Journey at Pechanga golf course on nearly 300 acres/121 hectares of unique, ancestral land, preserved most native oak trees; those removed were moved and transplanted at considerable expense. Visible from the course's back nine is the ancient Great Oak (namesake for the Pechanga Resort's AAA Four Diamond awarded Great Oak steakhouse fine dining restaurant).

The Great Oak is the largest, natural-growing indigenous coast live oak tree in the United States. It is estimated to be 850 to 1,500 years old, making it one of the oldest oak trees in the world. The second-largest Pechanga oak is a deep-rooted feature on hole 9. Mature California oaks also stand on holes 1, 3, and 4; and are challenging obstacles on holes 2 and 7.

The Arthurs Hills and Steve Forest designed, 18-hole, championship Journey at Pechanga golf course is ranked as one of California's greatest courses by publications including GOLF Magazine and GolfWeek.  Journey traverses native canyons between Pechanga Creek and the adjacent boulder-strewn mountainside. Electric golf carts are equipped with state-of-the-art GPS systems; cart GPS and communications systems are solar-powered.

The Journey Clubhouse is one of Southern California's finest. With west-facing windows, the Frank-Lloyd Wright inspired design, provides vistas of the golf course's rolling terrain, and includes Journey's End restaurant and the award-winning Pechanga Pro Shop.

13-Pechanga Resort: See and Dine

Recently unveiled as a new, grand entrance at AAA Four Diamond awarded Pechanga Resort was the dramatic, multi-million dollar renovation of the hotel lobby with the increased use of glass, marble, and stone. Pechanga Resort officials paid special attention to utilize sustainable resources wherever possible through the renovation.

The Pechanga hotel lobby's 20,000 square-feet of old stamped flooring was recycled and replaced with responsibly sourced marble. Lobby furnishings went to the resort's in-house cabinet and upholstery shops to be repurposed. Water used in the extraordinary focal-point water feature re-circulates. The ceiling in the new sundry shop was fabricated from recycled aluminum.

On-site at Pechanga are a variety of fine restaurants and casual eateries. The dining options include Great Oak Steakhouse, Journey's End, Paisano's Italian, Blazing Noodles, Pechanga Buffet, Pechanga Café, Bamboo, Kelsey's Bar & Grill, Temptations Food Court, new Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar, and Blends Coffee & Wine Bar.

14-Extraordinary Artisan Table: Dine and Shop

Champions of the local growers and artisan food movement, Extraordinary Artisan Table is a farm-to-plate eatery located in Uptown Temecula and featuring locally foraged and handcrafted breakfast items, lunches, and dinners-to-go (in compostable containers). The eatery also features Temecula Valley wines and craft beers; and catering services are also offered.

Additionally, on-site is E.A.T. Marketplace offering locally artisan-created foods like Extraordinary Artisan Table's signature pickled vegetables such as green beans, waxed beans, squash, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, and zucchini. Also showcased are items like Miklovich family raw honey; Lil' Miss cupcakes in eclectic flavors like lemonade, root beer float, and s'mores; and Monica's true Parisian-artisan macaroons.

15-Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery: Tour and Taste

With certified sustainable vineyards and winery under the strict standards of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance program created by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery is committed to small lot, handcrafted wines from varieties that are grown on small block, sustainably farmed vineyards. On-site buildings were re-conditioned from prior use and all new construction involved local-resident crews, vendors, and sub-contractors; the tasting bar was built using recycled woods from scraps found at a local guitar factory.

Exclusively by prior appointment, guests can experience the Palumbo Mini-Tour and Tasting, and learn from the owner-winemaker or assistant winemaker about the process from "dirt to bottle." The program touches on all aspects of production from sustainable farming practices to hands-on, small lot winemaking. A tasting of five wines from the Palumbo current selection is also included.

16-Ponte Family Estate Winery: Tour and Taste then Dine

Ponte Family Estate Winery also meets strict sustainability standards and is a certified participant in the California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance. Ponte strives to be great stewards of the land; and Ponte green efforts even encompass the new tour available on-property exclusively by advance reservation. Tour transportation is in the new Ponte 12-passenger electric bus that takes guests to see where the grapes are grown on the 310-acre/125-hectare ranch. Participants learn about the Ponte grape-growing philosophy and taste three signature Ponte wines, and then taste young wine right from a stainless steel fermentation tank or out of an oak cask. Also on-site is the alfresco Restaurant at Ponte (open daily) with garden and vineyard views and a seasonal menu of specialty pizzas, entrees, and sandwiches.

17-Foot Path Winery: Wine Taste

Very small, family-owned-and-operated, no-frills Foot Path Winery makes estate wines from Temecula Valley Wine Country 100% organically grown and certified grapes (through California Certified Organic Farmers). Natural cover crops and no pesticides (an organic, chrysanthemum-based alternative is used instead) and hawks and owls on patrol are examples of Foot Path vineyard practices. Foot Path keeps it simple and handcrafts only red wines that are not filtered, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The Foot Path Winery also features a small stand with tree fruit in-season, such as navel, Valencia, and blood oranges; tangerines; pomegranates; figs; or apricots.

18-Monte de Oro Winery & Vineyards: Tour and Taste then Dine

An example of the stunning Monte de Oro Winery's commitment to sustainable wine ecology is its 9,000 square-foot/836 square-meter subterranean, wine cellar. Utilizing the environment and aesthetics of the structure maintains a proper, consistent temperature, and consistent humidity for wine barrel storage and cellaring. This dramatically reduces the need for electricity that would be required for an aboveground wine barrel facility.

Exclusively by advance reservation on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, visitors may experience the Barrel Tour and Tasting. Included is a winery tour, a traditional tasting of Monte de Oro wines, and a behind-the-scenes visit to explore the winemaking process and taste wine from the oak barrels in the subterranean, wine cellar. Also on-site is Monte de Oro Bistro (open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) serving salads, wraps, pasta, paninis, and snack boards.

19-Callaway Vineyard & Winery: Tour and Learn then Dine

At Callaway Vineyard & Winery, cover crops limit carbon dioxide emissions, inhibit weed growth, preserve soil integrity, enhance soil health, and encourage beneficial insects. Hawks and owls are effective in their patrols; and old world winemaking techniques allow the wines to express themselves. Learn about Callaway vineyard practices and the wine making process on guest tours offered daily. View demonstration vines up close, and visit the crush pad, fermentation cellars, and barrel room (weekdays, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.; weekends, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.) Early arrival is suggested, as the tour size is limited. Also on-site at Callaway is the Meritage restaurant (open daily) with vineyard views and a fresh, local menu featuring tapas, salads, and entrees.

20-Oak Mountain Winery's new Cave: Tour and See

By spring, Oak Mountain Winery is scheduled to offer under-construction tours (call ahead or see website) highlighting the new 10,000 square-foot/929 square-meter cave to be completed by the autumn of 2014. The earth will keep the cave's ambient temperature at 65 to 68 degrees F/18 to 20 degrees C. Additionally, whole air fans will draw the cool night air in to keep humidity up and the temperature down. Some of the natural soil being dug out in the excavation process will be used in the finish of the cave walls. When complete, the cave will include a private tasting room, banquet room, and barrel storage. Oak Mountain Winery will also host cave tours, and in October 2014, "haunted wine caves."

21-Wilson Creek Winery: Tour and Taste then Dine

The 70-acre/28-hectare Wilson Creek Winery vineyard estate is recognized for its award-winning wines, friendly Temecula Valley Wine Country hospitality, and a variety of environmentally conscious efforts. In the vineyards in 2014, Wilson Creek will be utilizing 9,000 tons/8,163 tonnes of compost in a water conservation effort. An estimated, additional 900,000 gallons / 3 million liters of rainwater will be held by this sustainability measure.

Wilson Creek is also working with a 6th grade class form Temecula Valley Charter School on a co-op educational series. Students are working closely with Wilson Creek to research, design, construct new owl boxes, and will install webcams to watch the owls.

Ask about these and other green efforts on Wilson Creek wine tasting tours (available weekends only). Also on-site at Wilson Creek is the alfresco Creekside Grille restaurant (open daily). The menu includes salads, sandwiches, entrees, and Wilson family favorites.

Information is believed accurate but may be subject to change. 

ABOUT TEMECULA VALLEY AND THE VISIT TEMECULA VALLEY Visit Temecula Valley

With natural gifts of climate and geography, bolstered by Pu'eska Mountain, the Rainbow Gap, and the Santa Margarita Gap, Temecula Valley is widely recognized for its scenic vineyards, quality wines, and gracious and friendly wineries as Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country. The popular boutique destination is home to the 2013 California State Winery of the Year, South Coast Winery.

Visit Temecula Valley, the region's official tourism marketing organization and resource for visitors, is online including a complete daily Events Calendar at VisitTemecula.org; "Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country" on Facebook; and @Visit_Temecula on Twitter. Temecula Valley Visitors Center is located in Downtown Old Town Temecula at Third Street and Mercedes (adjacent the free Old Town Temecula Parking Garage).

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