Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Temecula Valley

I recently went on a press trip to Temecula Valley to visit their wineries and attend the CRUSH gala, but on the last morning I also had the chance to go on a sunrise hot air balloon ride!

We got picked up super early, because they have to drive around to find the right wind conditions somewhere they can set up.
The setup takes a bit of time. The had to lay out a large tarp on the ground first so the balloon doesn't get damaged. The workers are all buff guys. At first I was wondering why, but seeing them at work made me understand. You really need to be fit to deal with that giant balloon.
Blowing up the balloon ... first with a giant fan, then start the "hot air" bit.
After they're done inflating the balloon, they set it upright and we got in. The basket is actually compartmentalized and each compartment fits 2-3 people. I guess that makes sense, they don't want you running around all over while flying? Perhaps there are other reasons for them, but regardless, there's not much room to move around.
With where we took, one of the first sights was the orange grove. At one point we got so low that the basket grazed the top of the trees and you can smell the wonderful citrus.

I wasn't expecting so many balloons up in the air! But I guess a lot of people want to see the beautiful sunrise from up in the air.
So, how do you steer a hot air balloon? Well, you can't really "steer". All you can do is adjust the flame to move the balloon up or down, thus catching the wind at the right level. For the same reason there's also not a set "landing site". They have to call the guys in the truck who had been kind of following us when we are ready to land and have picked a nearby site.

During the ride you'll see a lot of vineyards and wineries, along with some local homes. At one winery and inn near the end of the trip, we got low enough I can smell them cooking bacon!
If you want to do this while in Temecula, I recommend doing it later on the trip. I thought it was cool to recognize some of the wineries we've visited previously from above.
Ponte Winery
When you're landing, they will tell you to keep your knees bent and hold on. Basically, you have to drop down to land, so I guess sometimes it may be a bit rough. Our landing was smooth and painless, though!

Disclaimer: The press trip was hosted by Temecula CVB and the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association

1 comment:

  1. I got to ride in one a few years ago during the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque; I'd love to check out Temecula someday. It's so much fun!