LOOK UP: The rolling hills of wine country -- they're always described as "rolling" because that's pretty much what they do -- have been the subject of odes and photo-crammed coffee table books and postcards and the fond remembrances of visitors. And they are quite lovely, what with the rows of vines, looking at once both orderly and lush, and the trees that bring some variation to the landscape. But the skies, too, over all of those vineyards and wineries are pretty picturesque, too. Oh, sure, the wine country sky is not unlike the sky over your own town, what with the same sun and all, except, quite often, it is dotted with hot air balloons. And, in some cases, many hot air balloons, as is the case in Temecula Valley come the end of May or beginning of June. For that is the time of Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, the started-in-1983 sip-and-soar spectacular. It has grown, grown, grown, as any attendee can tell you, and now the three-day food-plus-flight fun sees thousands of visitors who roll in from San Diego, Los Angeles, and points beyond.
MAY 29 THROUGH 31... are the dates for 2015, and deciding what you want to do is really the only tricky part. Well, okay, and getting to Lake Skinner, too, and parking, but that's how it goes with larger alfresco fun times, so you already know that. Gloriana, Love and Theft, Daughtry, and Plain White T's will be on the Main Stage over two nights, in addition to a number of other acts. The wine from Temecula grape growers will be plentiful and covering all corners, from everyday chardonnays to prize-garnering cabs. And the balloons? Well, you can go up, or you can admire from the ground, or you can watch the whole thing after our nearest star goes to sleep for the night, at the Friday and Saturday Balloon Glows (nope, the envelopes and gondolas do not ascend, but the sight is pretty stellar). Tickets, planning, where to park, what to eat, and all of the important-to-knows for a big weekend partay? Best land your basket over here.