You’re a cowboy (or girl!) roaming the range, in search of…the perfect pinot. It may not be a scene from a John Wayne movie but it’s a great way to get behind the scenes in Temecula’s wine country. Saddle up with Wine Country Trails, where groups are kept to a maximum of six people. Then take a 90-minute ride through the vast-vined acres of Wilson Creek Winery, South Coast Winery, and Lorimar Winery. (Although these are Temecula’s three heavy hitters, the serene and lush views deep inside the grape growth keep you removed from the hustle and bustle.) Get an early start to catch the sun crest over Wild Horse Peak of the Agua Tibia Wilderness. Go at your own gait with a bouncy trot or a rocking canter. All of Wine Country Trails’ 35 horses are rescues, rehabilitated with TLC treatments ranging from acupuncture to foot treatments (think pedicures for hoofs). Among them, Chopper and Caramel are known to be mischievous, while Granger and Noble are gentle sweethearts. Afterward, belly up to the tasting rooms and wrangle some generous pours. Giddyup, city slicker.
TIP: Beat the summer heat: mid-June marks the start of Wine Country Trails’ popular Sunset Tour.
Directions: From the I-15, take the Rancho California Rd. exit and head east. After 7 miles, turn into Wilson Creek’s second parking lot (on the left). Once in the lot, instead of turning left toward the winery, turn right and follow the road to the back where the horses are stationed. Weekend rides should be reserved a week in advance. $145 per couple; $45 per child (7 years and older).