Balloons + Wine at Temecula Valley Fest

The three-day bash includes glows, tunes, and food tastes galore.

THE SKY OVER WINE COUNTRY: What are the major attention-grabbers when visiting a place lauded for its grape-growing abilities? The beautiful winery architecture is a common favorite, as are the various fountains and gardens that have become frequently seen features of the larger estates. And, yes, all of those rows and rows of vines, whether they're slightly leafy or in full harvest mode, have a way of catching our eye. But there are the pretty skies over wine country, skies that only become more picturesque when a brightly hued balloon joins the picture. Balloons and wine country are a longtime duo, of course, but on a certain weekend in spring that friendship grows ever tighter. It's the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, one of the best-known, best-attended weekend parties in any wine country, north or south. The 2016 dates are...

MAY 20 THROUGH 22, and, as is tradition, a bevy of regional wineries will be out with bottles by the case. There's the wine tasting, and the reserve wine tasting, and beer tasting, too, so you'll want to nab a ticket to the to-do of your preference (and, of course, a designated driver and place to stay). The concert slate is brimming, per usual, with Phil Vassar, Just Dave Band, and Parmalee making the tunes for people to relax/dance/sip by. And shall there be food? There shall be, from barbecue to warm-weather desserts (think ice cream, which everyone knows is a fine follow-up to a crisp chardonnay). As for the balloons in the name? The Evening Balloon Glows are popular, but if you can wake with the birdies, get out to the Sunrise Morning Balloon Launches. We mean, 6:30 a.m. isn't too early, right? If you know hot dogs and merlot and live tunes await you later in the day? It's a full-to-the-top weekend, one that has its vine-y roots in 1983. That means lots of attendees, lots of wines, and lots of colorful fliers in the skies above wine country.

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