What point on the map lies just about a one-hour drive from San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs? Temecula Valley. This primo location alone makes the area a natural destination for meetings, conventions, and group gatherings. But the people and businesses of Temecula Valley aren't resting on their laurels. Recently, the Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) has been spreading the word that--beyond location--Southern California wine country is a fun place to meet.
"We have many sites, from wineries to resorts, that offer meetings in the barrel room, rooms offering scenic views of Temecula Valley," explains Carolyn Fittipaldi, marketing manager for the Temecula Valley CVB. "And, with more than 30 wineries and restaurants, Old Town Temecula, nearby casinos, and world-class golf, the area offers plenty to do."
And that's just the beginning. Across Temecula Valley, wineries, golf courses, resorts, and other businesses are focusing on the needs of the small-to-medium-size meetings market. They offer meeting and event planners innovative ways to break the ice or give meeting-goers a break. Here are three:
1. Group Wine Blending. Event At Wilson Creek Winery, groups can actually create, name, and bottle their own varietal. After enjoying a tour of the winery and a private wine tasting, participants are given the basics of the chemistry of winemaking and are then separated into teams. Each team is provided with tools such as eyedroppers, red and white tannins, compound oak, tartaric and citric acids, and three wines to blend. The blends are then tasted and judged.
2. Glow Ball. There are more than 153 holes of golf in Temecula Valley Southern California wine country, so after an afternoon of back-to-back meetings, a round of golf seems only fitting. Worried about getting more than a few holes in before dark? That's not a problem at Temecula Creek Inn. The resort offers Glow Ball, a unique way of getting even non-golfers out on the course to experience a truly memorable event. At dusk, the golf course fairway and pins are lined with glow sticks. Attendees sport glow-in-the-dark items, and glow-necklace flashlights light the way. Golfers are grouped in teams of four and each player is given the chance to drive a glowing golf ball into the cup.
3. Hot Air Ballooning. One of the most fascinating ways to experience Southern California wine country is from high above in a hot air balloon! Sunrise flights, typically lasting 60-75 minutes, offer a bird's-eye view of the rolling vineyards and expansive mountain ranges in the Valley. Certified pilots act as tour guides, identifying points of interest and answering questions. Back on ground, guests are served a continental breakfast complete with Champagne. And since this is a sunrise flight, attendees still have time to make the 9:00 a.m.General Session.
The Temecula Valley CVB encourages meeting and event planners to schedule plenty of downtime into their agendas. Charming Old Town Temecula is chock-full of specialty boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops just waiting to be explored. And, even if the quaint town's wooden boardwalks roll up on the early side, night owls can always head to Pechanga Resort & Casino for Vegas-style gambling, fine cuisine, nightly entertainment, and top-name headliners.
Getting to the Temecula Valley is easy from every direction. The 31-square-mile area is just off the I-15 Freeway, and is surrounded by four major airports in San Diego, Los Angeles, Ontario, and Orange County, and two local airfields. Once there, visitors often hop on a convenient shuttle bus, golf cart, or horse carriage to see the many sights and fun things to do in Southern California wine country.
Where to Meet in Southern California Wine Country
Temecula Valley has many venues which can accommodate meetings ranging in size from 10 to 1,200. Here are some spots offering a variety of meeting facilities located throughout Temecula Valley.
Embassy Suites Temecula Valley
Temecula Creek Inn
Pechanga Resort & Casino
Eagle Glen Golf Course
Red Hawk Golf Club
The SCGA Golf Club
Warner Springs Ranch
Bella Vista Cilurzo
Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Frangipani Estate Winery
Maurice Car'rie Winery
Ponte Family Estate Winery
South Coast Winery & Spa
Wilson Creek Winery
Community Recreation Center
Old Town Temecula Theater