At the end of last month, I made a trip out to Temecula Valley to go to their Balloon & Wine festival. It was in its 32nd year, so my family and I were very excited to visit. I imagined I would be out in a field shooting photo after photo of giant hot air balloons floating across the clear desert sky.
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened. As it turns out, the emphasis on the festival is the wine, not the balloons.
We arrived at about 9am and two balloons happened to be floating over the parking lot. It had been a very overcast morning, so it was great to see them cut through what was left of the morning cloud cover.
We headed in and… there were four balloons. Four. These four were visible from standing in the parking lot, so I was hoping for more. & they weren’t headed for a morning cruise, they were all tethered to the ground.
In fact, within 2 minutes of this photo being taken, the Smokey balloon (a personal fave. out of four.) and a real estate balloon were taken down.
…and then there were two.
My family and I walked around– there was a great booth that decorated vehicles out of old wine barrels, but otherwise it was closer to the “info” section at a fair– company booths for cell phones, solar energy, etc. There were a few clothing booths (nothing really crafty like I’d hoped, more swap meet style), a kids sections that hadn’t opened yet, and a row of food trucks. We took a lap and walked by the wine section, which wasn’t open because it was just after 9am.
I think we were there all of 30 minutes max. The remaining two balloons continued to bounce up and down as people waited in line to spend a couple of minutes up in a tethered balloon.
One more thing that has been bothering me… in the newspaper Sunday admission was listed at $18 dollars. It was $20. & the “early bird” half-off deal was listed in the newspaper to last until 10 am. They cut it at 9am. So the $27 my family accounted for tickets (3 tickets before 10am at $9 each) actually cost us $60. Ouch!
Would I go again? Nope. But I’m not a wine drinker. I think that is the target market for an event like this– bringing the local wineries into one space for people to visit. There was also a large stage and I believe that on Friday and Saturday nights they had live acts. I would definitely consider coming out if it was someone I wanted to see live– it’s most likely cheaper than seeing them in an area show. So, if you’re in the area and are a big wine fan, you should check it out. If you’re a balloon fan, you can skip!