Wouldn’t You Like to Fly… Over
the night falls, the land around Lake Skinner, Temecula becomes dotted
with the inwardly lit globes of the 29th annual Temecula Valley Balloon
& Wine Festival, creating one of the most memorable vistas in the
The luminescent Balloon Glow, which is held at dusk on both Friday and
Saturday nights, is created when balloon pilots synchronize the igniting
of the balloon burners, which create the “hot” in the air
during flights. But at night, with the balloons tethered to the ground,
the “burn” causes the brilliant balloon canopies to glow
against the velvet sky.
Whether done to a musical beat or the crowd’s demand to “Glow,”
the balloons appear to dance as they flicker and shine against the hues
of dusk and nightfall.
The festival on June 3–5 is a double-pleasure, giving you the
opportunity to enjoy Southern California wine-country, some great local
musical talent as well as to appreciate the grace and beauty of ballooning.
Whether you want to fly in a balloon through clear dawn skies, picnic
under the illuminated balloons at night, sample 40 vintages from 20
wineries or just relax to music of Styx band member Dennis DeYoung,
Third Eye Blind, Candlebox, Chalk FarM and Lee DeWyze—this festival
has got you covered.
The festival is at the Lake Skinner Recreation Area and surrounded by
the Shipley Preserve, the Festival’s park setting provides natural
vistas whether flying aboard a hot air balloon, or with your feet planted
on the ground.
Get there early, and you will see dozens of brilliantly colored hot
air balloons make their mass ascension over picturesque Lake Skinner
on Saturday and Sunday mornings, June 4 and 5.
The festival has expanded over the years to a three-day event that showcases
some of the best things about Temecula.
Mild summer temperatures cooled by an ocean breeze slip through the
Rainbow gap and provide the perfect climate for over 30 wineries and
40,000 annual Festival guests.
The Festival has more than 20 of the wineries pouring during the weekend.
Wine tasting hours are Friday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to
9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A souvenir glass and six tastes are
included in the $15 wine-tasting package.
Local chefs will provide the gourmet treats at the Wine & Food Pairing
pavilion Saturday and Sunday. Wine tasting and the wine and food pairing
packages cost extra and not included in Festival admission.
Headlining opening night is Dennis DeYoung: the music of Styx with special
guests Ambrosia. Best known as a founding member and vocalist for Styx,
DeYoung and his six-member band will showcase hit songs “Lady,”
“Babe,” “Come Sail Away,” “Too Much Time
on My Hands,” and “Rockin the Paradise.”
Ambrosia, a 1970s band inspired by the progressive rock era, developed
a large regional following for their inventive musicianship and skillful
Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday to an Arts and Crafts Faire, Kids Faire,
exhibits, international food court, and wine tasting.
Guests will try to break a world record for the largest glow stick design
prior to Dennis DeYoung, as each concert guest will receive a glowstick.
Guests will be arranged on the field to form the shape of a hot air
Saturday and Sunday mornings, hot air balloons will dot the dawn skies.
The mass balloon ascension takes place between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. weather
permitting. Arrive early as hot air balloons need the cool morning air
Saturday the Festival Rocks Wine Country.
Headlining an alternative rock lineup is Third Eye Blind. The alternative
rock band hit the charts in 1997 with the self-titled album “Third
Eye Blind” and several hit singles including “Semi-Charmed
Life,” “How’s It Going to Be,” “Losing
a Whole Year,” and “Jumper.”
Joining the lineup are Candlebox, Chalk FarM and special guest Lee DeWyze.
Candlebox is an American alternative rock band that hit the rock scene
in 1993 with a self-titled album that sold more than 4 million copies
and peaked at #7 on Billboard charts. Notable songs are "Change,"
"You," and "Far Behind." The band went on an hiatus
from 2000 to 2005 and reunited in 2006.
Chalk FarM, another alternative rock band that is best known for their
single "Lie On Lie" also hit fame in the late 90s only to
break up in 2000 after making an appearance in the movie "Coyote
Ugly" where they played their single "Like Water".
Lee DeWyze, a special guest to the lineup, will also perform Saturday.
DeWyze, the season nine American Idol Winner has enjoyed recent airplay
on adult contemporary stations with his album "Slumberland"
which was released in June, 2010, single "Beautiful Day" which
rose as high as #12 on Digital Billboard Singles, and the 2010 digital
album “Live It Up.”
Sunday on the Wine Garden stage guests experience the rocking “world”
beat of the Young Dubliners, a rock band with Celtic influence, and
their special guest, Common Sense, which plays world/reggae rock.
The Main Stage becomes a freestyle motocross runway as top FMX riders
put on two shows and a barbecue Sunday afternoon. All concerts are included
in the admission price.
Make Temecula reservations early during the Festival week. For information
visit www.tvbwf.com or call 951-676-6713.
Fallbrook will present the 15th annual Hot Summer Nites the the second
and last Fridays of June, July and August.
It’s a family-friendly festival where three blocks of “the
village” are set aside for live music, food and fun. It’s
a way to celebrate the endless evenings—and to see lots of cool
The event is hosted by Connections Fallbrook Networking, an organization
made up of business owners who are interested in promoting businesses
and helping the community.
Connections is a business networking group that gets together once a
week and does referrals. They figure out ways to generate more business
for themselves and the community, and Hot Summer Nites fits that philosophy
like a glove.
Connections and Fallbrook Village Association volunteers staff each
of the Friday night events closing down three blocks of downtown Fallbrook
on Main Street, between Fig and Ivy. In fact, you might call it a summertime
The organizers do their best to make each night different.
One night you’ll see vintage cars, and another you’ll see
Porches, Carreras, Cobras and Vipers. On Open Header Nites you get to
see some Nitro!”
Each night, except for the Youth and Family Night on June 24, will have
some form of car competition.
The cars arrive at 4:30 p.m. and events really get rolling by 5:15 p.m.,
or so, when the bands start to play, although the official time to start
is 5 p.m. It lasts until 8 p.m.
All of the events are held in downtown Fallbrook between Main Street
The first Hot Summer Nite event will be Sports Car Night, chaired by
Bill Lemasters. Music in the village square will be provided by Last
Debra Zoller will chair this year’s Youth and Family Night on
June 24. Wear your Western duds and be prepared to meet some real, genuine
cowboys! This will include reenactments and skits about the history
of the Old West. Music will be provided by Big Rye & Mercenaries.
July 8 will be the night for Rods and Relics, chaired by Ruthie and
John Harris. Tony Suraci will play the live music.
The Taste of Fallbrook on July 29, chaired by Sandra Buckingham, will
give you the chance to find out what some of the best restaurants in
the Fallbrook area offer without spending the money to visit them all.
For one small price you can sample delicacies from between 15 and 20
eateries in town. Enjoy all those tastes to the blues sound of Aunt
August 12 enjoy the Off-Road Race Car and Open Header event, chaired
by Mike Mroz. The attractions include off-road race cars and four-by-fours
along with dune buggies, some classic cars with open headers and a few
race cars. There will be a competition with trophies award. Music will
be performed by Chris James.
Mroz says that one of the fun things about the open header event is,
“that you have so many vehicles that are very loud and make a
lot of noise. That’s the sound of pure American muscle.”
New this year is the Classic Fire Truck Night, August 26, that includes
According to Mike Mroz, who is also chairman of this event, classic
fire trucks from all over the area will be welcomed. Barbecue vendors
representing various eateries will serve tri-tip, barbecue steaks and
chicken. Music will be provided by Nite Riders.
“We hope to draw a lot of attention with the fire truck night.
We are inviting fire trucks from all over, including Camp Pendleton,
to bring their trucks.”
To find out more about Fallbrook Connections and the Hot Summer Nites,
Rockin’ Into Its Third Year
The Bonsall Education Foundation is making final plans for its 3rd annual
music festival, “Bonsallpalooza 2011.”
The event will be held Saturday, June 18 from 7–10 p.m. at Pala
Casino Spa & Resort.
Since its inception in 2009, Bonsallpalooza has helped the Bonsall Education
Foundation raise more than $40,000 to help support music programs for
Bonsall United School District (BUSD) after state budget cuts threatened
to eliminate music programs.
“Without support for band and music at an elementary level, there
is no feeder program for the middle school and eventually high school,”
said Erica Perko, president of Bonsall Education Foundation and the
2010 Honorary Bonsall Mayor. “The Foundation helps with monetary
donations for music programs in the schools. For example, through our
$15,000 donation to the BUSD, we have been able to keep a certificated
music instructor in all the Bonsall elementary schools. The instructor
teaches weekly music classes to approximately 1,400 students.”
Perko said another $2,500 was given last year to Bonsall’s middle
school music teacher for chorus and band supplies and repairs, and remaining
funds were donated to Fallbrook Music Society and BUSD teachers with
approved grant applications for music and art supplies.
The Foundation also plans to raise funds to host world-renowned musicians
to perform in schools through a partnership with the Fallbrook Music
“Due to Bonsallpalooza funds and support from the Fallbrook Music
Society’s generous sponsors, the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin from
Moscow performed shows for hundreds of local children last year,”
Perko said. “It was amazing to watch their expressions as they
witnessed the beauty of classical music live and for the first time.”
This year’s featured performers include Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz,
Liquid Blue and The Night Doctors, as well as special guest, Justin
Cunningham, who will be performing at the pre-show Hospitality Lounge
reception. Dr. Cunningham (aka: Dr. C) is the Bonsall School District
Superintendent and will be playing his acoustic guitar from 4-6 p.m.
According to Dr. Cunningham, “The power of community support has
brought wonderful improvement to the music program; there are a greater
variety of events and more opportunities for students to experience
music; from musicals tied to Character Counts to band and chorus, the
expansion of the program is excellent and supports so many more students
than it used to. It is a great example of how community expectations
and support make better schools."
As Perko points out, it takes the hard work of several key individuals
as well as the Bonsall Education Foundation, Fallbrook Music Society
and the Bonsall community to ensure the Bonsall Union School District
never has to go without music.
“Our Chairperson, Jenn Smith, has been looking forward to “Bonsallpalooza
2011” since five minutes after the concert ended last year,”
Perko said. “She dedicates an incredible amount of energy to this
event and to our non-profit education foundation. It’s because
of talented volunteers such as her, that we can pull together an entire
community under one roof and celebrate education together.”
Bonsallpalooza’s musical entertainment will take place at the
Pala Casino Spa & Resort’s Infinity Room, formerly known as
The Grand Cabernet Room. Pala Casino is celebrating its 10th anniversary
and recently remodeled the venue, thus its new name.
“We want to extend a great big thank you to Chairman Smith and
the Pala Band of Mission Indians for their support in donating the venue
and underwriting the hospitality suite for this year's event,”
Tickets for “Bonsallpalooza 2011” are on sale now at: www.startickets.com
The cost is $40 each for general seating and there is an optional Hospitality
Lounge reception held just before the event from 4-6 p.m. that costs
The Hospitality Lounge includes a silent auction, two hours of live
music by Chris James and BUSD superintendent Dr. Cunningham’s
band, and food prepared by Pala Casino’s chefs with local produce
donated by farmers that participate in the Bonsall farmers market to
support BEF and Bonsall schools.
Speaking of donations, Perko said donations and sponsorships are still
needed and can be handled by contacting Jenn Smith at email@example.com.
“There is no greater cause than education,” Perko says.
“The economy is not an excuse, but an opportunity to learn how
to be more creative with our resources. Each year I look forward to
the challenge of maintaining what we have created while improving it
for the school year to come. Bonsallpalooza is a fun way to support
our cause while strengthening our mission.”
For information about “Bonsallpalooza 2011”, call 760-631-5205,
x1103 or visit the Bonsall school website.
you look at the number of parks and preserves that Fallbrook had before
1988 (one, Live Oak Park), and compare that to the 17 that exist today,
you will realize the value of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy (FLC),
which was started in that year.
Today the Conservancy owns and manages 1,848 acres of open space, including
Margarita Peak and ten other nature preserves, manages 77 acres that
it doesn’t own, and has 666 acres of conservation easements, while
maintaining 20 miles of public trails.
Wallace Tucker was one of the original band that started the Conservancy
23 years ago.
He recalls how he and Vince Ross started the Conservancy as a “middle
way,” between having no preserved land at all, and taking away
people’s private property.
Tucker, who had worked for the Smithsonian Institution, and grew up
in a small town that had that “middle way,” helped found
the Conservancy, which operates under the philosophy that “you
build what needs to be built, save what should be saved and pay people
fair market value for their property.”
Today the Conservancy manages ten preserves and four conservation easements
in Bonsall, Rainbow, Deluz, Fallbrook and even a conservation easement
in Pauma Valley on the Tierra Miguel Farm.
These include the 46 acre Los Jilgueros Preserve on South Mission Road,
which has trails, benches, a firescape garden (i.e. a garden of plants
that resist wildfires), wildflowers, willows, birds, ponds and wetlands.
Then there is the Dinwiddie Preserve of 13 acres on Stage Coach Lane,
which offers benches, birds, a creek, willows and oaks.
The largest preserves are the Rock Mountain Preserve of 70 acres on
Sandia Creek Road, which has rock outcroppings, views, a creek, and
coastal sage; and the 340 acre Monserate Mountain Preserve on Pankey
Road & I-15, opposite the Pala Mesa Resort. This has steep trails,
panoramic views and coastal sage.
They just acquired a conservation easement (aka conservation bank) on
560 acres on Red Mountain that will mainly benefit the endangered California
FLC acquires property by buying it, of course, but also through donations,
and the aforementioned conservation bank.
When a developer places land into a conservation bank, he acquires “credits,”
that can be used to build elsewhere. The developer also places money
into a fund to be used to pay for managing the land.
FLC’s staff includes its paid executive director, Mike Peters;
two assistants who help with land management, and a part-time bookkeeper.
Peters usually has five active grant applications in the works, usually
for revegetation and restoration of the land. The FLC gets about $100,000
in grants each year, usually through the California Dept. of Fish &
Wildlife and the U.S Department of Agriculture.
Right now the Conservancy has six active restoration projects underway.
When the FLC acquires land, the goal is to return it as close as possible
to its original condition and original vegetation.
In addition there are more than 100 volunteers and between 800-1,000
Six years ago, the FLC acquired the ten acre Engel Family Preserve on
Sumac Road. Much of the land had been planted in avocado trees. The
rest of the land was in native coastal sage scrub. Using $25,000 from
Fish & Wildlife and a $15,000 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program they returned the land to Coastal
Coastal Sage is the key ingredient in returning a wildlife habitat to
its original state. It provides cover that lets wildlife return. Once
it is restored, the critters native to this part of Southern California
will also return, everything from snakes such as the red diamondback
or speckled rattler to birds such as the roadrunner, to rabbits—restoring
the circle of life.
Conservancy volunteers do running censuses of the lands they manage
and record whenever they see an individual animal, with the number of
individual species of birds running into a couple of hundred. They also
keep track of species such as opossums, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, weasels,
skunks and cottontail, to name a few, as well as a multitude of plants.
They occasionally record the presence of an American buffalo that wanders
onto one of their preserves (Margarita Peak) from Camp Pendleton.
“We are the only people who have bison wandering onto our preserves,”
You can also make donations in memory of a loved one. The lovely Palomares
Park sculpture of a young girl, dedicated to the memory of the daughter
of Jack & Lila Sandschulte, is one way that a family helped preserve
open spaces and remember a beloved child.
Or, as Peters wrote recently about leaving a bequest to the FLC: “And
when that dusty photo is picked up by some future relative from a box
of stored memorabilia—that photo of you and your family standing
on a preserve that you helped create…they’ll stop…and
they’ll recognize the photo of you and your family on that day…That
favorite hiking trail…or a place to escape to…they’ll
remember it was protected with your help to save for future generations,
relatives and snakes.”
The Conservancy has two volunteer groups: the Save Our Forest group
plants trees and maintains a native plant nursery. The Trails Council
manages a park and hiking and riding trails on Fallbrook Public Utility
District and County land along the Santa Margarita River.
The office of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy is located in the historic
Palomares House, which is just a few blocks past Fallbrook High School
on Stagecoach Lane.
Visit their Web site at www.fallbrooklandconservancy.org,
call them at 760-728-0889, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
or mail them at P.O. Box 2701, Fallbrook CA 92088.
Ranch: Where Nature and Art Meet
The Glass Ranch is an oasis of art and nature that combines a hot shop
for blowing glass, a fused glass studio, sculpture garden, mosaic ponds
and sculpture gallery.
For eight years, Garry Cohen and Cherrie La Porte have been carrying
out their mission, to create a “field of dreams” in and
around their home that overlooks Lake Hodges, near Escondido.
If you visit their contemporary glass gallery (and it’s best to
make an appointment—don’t just stop by) you can see their
latest creations of blown glass, fused glass sculpture, glass jewelry,
and bronze and garden sculpture.
Their house overlooks the lake and they have lovingly designed the half
acre with paths that lead you into surprises such as large glass panels,
hanging dichroic glass mobiles and a mosaic pond shaped like a snake.
Garry Cohen and Cherrie La Porte have been married for eight years.
Before they met, Cohen had been in the art scene for many years, many
of them on the road as a tradesman. “I have been blowing glass
for about thirty years,” he reflects.
She was a glass artist, who specialized in glass jewelry.
Together they decided to build their own personal “field of dreams,”
and encourage people to visit it and see the art of glass up close and
Calling their home “The Glass Ranch” was a creative stroke.
“It gave a little more of a description of what we do,”
says La Porte.
“It’s unusual to have an artist couple,” he says.
“We do pretty good together.”
This approach has worked very well. The reputation and visibility of
The Glass Ranch is building, and that has meant more customers.
Twice a year, the Glass Ranch holds a studio show where they invite
the general public. There are demonstrations all day and the chance
to tour the ranch—and, of course, buy the artists’ works.
You can find a piece to fit any budget, from $20 to $300. And, of course,
they do custom commissions.
Local musicians Hilltop Ramble and Swift Pony provided music at the
most recent studio show, which was at the end of April. The next one
will be the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“We are finding that people will come to these events and then
bring people the next time,” she says.
Frequent visitors include car clubs and garden clubs.
According to La Porte, “We do get calls for private tours and
demonstrations.” The two-hour tour includes staying for lunch.
They follow a routine of three months of intense work on glass pieces,
followed by three months off. They always take three months off during
the summer because glass-blowing becomes somewhat unbearable in the
heat of the summer. They also work on some of their metal sculptures
during this time of year.
They are very proud of the fact that they are “green.” They
recycle metal and glass (into glass mulch, which is a very popular product).
They power much of their equipment with solar.
“We are working artists. We want the public to see that what we
do is American glass that we sell right here. This is how we make our
living,” says Cohen. “We are extremely proud to be American
She adds, “We are doing what we love, and it is exciting. We followed
“We chose to be artists for a living, which is not for the faint
of heart. It takes perseverance. It takes time. We make unique, colorful
glass and sculpture. You can come into our art studio and see how we
“We are surrounded by natural beauty,” he says. “and
we try to key off that and try to incorporate vibrant colors in our
work. Lots of beauty, lots of color—not shocking but exciting
He continues, “We do kinetic sculpture so that it feels like life.
We spice it up with the colors.”
He hastens to add that what they do is not folk art, “but some
of the pieces have that feeling.”
“We take a little bit from all of the different cultures,”
Many of their customers are in the gift market. Most of their works
are traditional vessels, with a splash of difference.
If you take a tour of their garden you’ll see one of their most
interesting pieces, a mosaic surfboard.
She teaches art jewelry classes, glass fusing classes and one-day workshops;
he runs the glass program at Palomar College. Many of the glass blowers
in the business today in this region studied under him.
Her classes (which you can sign up for on their Web site: www.garrycohenstudio.com
are always full with a waiting list. “This is about people investing
in themselves,” she says.
Your Home With New Improvements & Fresh Designs
is the season of renewal and regeneration! While this concept is most
often associated with nature, it pertains to your home as well.
Now is the perfect time to refresh, revive and transform your home,
and our local businesses have lots of ways to help you do so.
New flooring is one way to revive your home. When you’re looking
to invest your hard-earned money into flooring, it can be beneficial
to visit a showroom to see and feel the actual product and determine
if it’s what you really want.
Of course, new flooring usually means replacing old flooring and in
today’s environmentally-focused world, both recycling old flooring
and buying recycled flooring are becoming more and more popular.
According to Jennifer LaVine at Tri-City Carpet in Escondido, recycling
carpet was not always feasible because the recycling centers were far
away, but now a local entrepreneur out of San Diego has began recycling
“Recycling is something that the industry has been preparing for,”
said LaVine. “Now that it’s local, we’ve jumped on
the bandwagon. We offer a variety of eco-friendly flooring options.”
When it comes to flooring, don’t forget your outdoor spaces. With
our warm climate, patios and balconies often serve as second living
areas. An easy way to spruce things up outdoors is with a custom, outdoor
area rug. Tri-City Carpet has a nice selection of quality, brand-name
If you can’t afford new flooring just yet, why not spruce up the
flooring that’s already in your home by calling Robere Carpet
Care. They will maintain your home flooring by providing a full range
of services including carpet cleaning, area rug cleaning, tile and grout
And, if you plan to be on the move this summer, they even provide carpet
and upholstery cleaning of motor homes and trailers.
Granite Transformations in Escondido offers a practical and unique solution
for new counters. Rather than replace them, they reface them with customized
sections of granite that fit over your existing countertops. It’s
an easy and cost-effective way to update your kitchen or bathroom, and
it requires no maintenance once installed.
Not sure of exactly how to liven up that room? You could always hire
a professional consultant. Susan Rose is the owner and operator of Decorating
Den Interiors and provides a complimentary initial design consultation.
She’ll come to your home, talk with you about your project ideas,
and create a custom design plan just for you, addressing everything
from bedding ensembles, wall coverings, accessories, lighting, furniture
and more. Be sure to ask her about faux wrought iron— it’s
one of the latest wall decorating trends!
As a certified interior designer with more than 10 years of experience,
Rose said she loves helping customers transform their home into something
they have dreamt about.
Whatever you’re dreaming about for your home, your local businesses
can make happen. Put a little spring into your home and your community
by shopping local.
Music Amidst the Vines
You look away from the mellow music for a moment, and you could be somewhere
in Tuscany. The rows of vines undulate in the golden late afternoon
sunlight, while the lilting acoustic guitar sounds of Jesse Cook ingratiate
themselves, combining with the warmth of the wine and the special cuisine.
On this particular afternoon, the Thornton Winery is holding the first
of its Champagne Jazz Series, which is in its 23rd year, and brings
in enthusiastic crowds year after year.
Before the Thornton Winery Opening Day Jazz Concert begins, several
guests meet in the winery’s “cave” for the some hor
d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Steve Pickell and meet with Thornton’s
winemaker, David Vergari, who provides the pairings for the gourmet
suppers that are served with the Champagne Jazz Series.
Someone asks Vergari what his secret is for producing an award-winning
wine. “Get good grapes and let the yeast take care of the details!”
he says with a grin. “It’s fun to get up in the morning
if you love what you do.”
He reveals that he just bottled his first wine, the first wine at Thornton
that has been been done since he took over as winemaker in August of
2010. Things are a little more leisurely that other places when it comes
to creating things that will be with us for decades.
In this case, the vintage that may be with us for awhile is the Cuvée
Rouge, one of the winery’s champagnes which uses the traditional
méthode champenoise where the wine ferments in the bottle, as
opposed to the faster technique that some wineries use where carbon
dioxide is injected into the wine to create fizz. Fourteen hundred cases
of the Cuvée have been produced this year. Bottling begins in
June, right about the time you’ll be reading this article.
Chef Pickell of the award-winning Café Champagne, provided some
sumptuous offerings for those guests who were partaking of the Gourmet
Supper. The supper package, includes a reserved table under a covered
patio, a three-course gourmet meal, tax and gratuity. Seating is limited.
The meal begins with an asparagus, fava bean, rock shrimp salad and
sweet bell pepper citronette dressing, served with Thornton’s
It continues with oven roasted natural chicken breast, saffron risotto
cake and sauteed broccolini in a roasted tomato garden herb sauce. It
was accompanied by the 2007 Huts Zinfandel, which totally blew my taste
buds away, and made me forget that my favorite red is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Not for long perhaps!
Dessert was a lemon rosemary tart served with fresh strawberry compote
and paired with the Thornton 2007 Rose, almost a sweet dessert wine.
While I have died and gone to foodie heaven, I find myself being serenaded
by the smooth sounds of Jesse Cook, who starts off with Bogata by Bus,
a song that was inspired by his recent visit to Columbia.
Then he continues with Tuesday’s Child, one of Cook’s most
popular numbers. He ends the set with Cafe Mocha, a 2008 number one
jazz song from the album Frontiers.
These are leisurely concerts in the late mellow afternoon. Each set
is an hour, separated by a generous intermission, giving you plenty
of time to enjoy your food, or if you have just come for the concert
and the wine, time to go get another glass.
Some of the jazz artists that will be performing n upcoming months include
Gentlemen of the Night, June 5, Fourplay with Strunz & Farah, June
12, Boney James, June 18 and Euge Groove and Nick Colionne, June 26.
To find out more about the Champagne Jazz Series, visit www.thorntonwine.com
or call 951-699-0099.
the International Gourd Festival — One Last Time
The Welburn Gourd Farm in Fallbrook is busy gearing up for its 15th
and final annual International Gourd Festival. Now in its last year,
the festival is expected to be better than ever with gourd artwork,
vendors, exhibitors and a variety of opportunities for gourd enthusiasts.
“We’re planning so many great things,” said Jaclyn
Schmitz, assistant festival director. “There will be all kinds
of gourd art like purses, drums and lamps. We’ll have live musical
performances, live gourd crafting demonstrations, a beer and wine garden,
exhibitors, food and beverages and authentic Hawaiian dancers.”
The California Gourd Society will hold an art competition which is one
of the biggest attractions at the festival. The art competition demonstrates
how a raw gourd bought for a few dollars can be crafted into a piece
of art worth thousands of dollars.
“It’s really amazing what you can do with a gourd,”
Schmitz said. “The California Gourd Society holds a contest for
everyone from beginners to expert gourd artists. We’re also doing
something new this year with a gourd hat competition where you can win
prizes for any cool, funky or crazy gourd hat that you wear.”
The phenomenal growth of the event prompted the move from the Welburn’s
25-acre property to their 110-acre Garnsey Ranch which is where they
grow the gourds just three miles down the road. The event has now outgrown
“This event has grown so much over the past few years that our
farm can no longer handle it,” Schmitz said. “We decided
rather than hold one huge annual event, that we should break things
down and have several smaller events over the course of a year.”
These smaller events include live online gourd art classes which are
available for either a half or a full day. The classes cost $30 and
include three hours of instruction with chat room capability for questions.
Each student also gets a free DVD of the class and a package of special
offers and deals on the tools and resources used in the class.
Mark & Karen Klay of Tucson, Arizona are the featured artists at
this last festival. They have been collaborating for 20 years.
Says Mark Klay, “We each have our areas of expertise. We are the
dinosaurs of the festival. We did the very first one. We’ve been
in the game a long time.”
Unlike many part-time artists who do art as a hobby, this is what the
Klays do for a living, and they work hard at it.
“Once upon a time we had real jobs. We are self-taught. We started
playing around with gourds. At first we were just painting pots and
then a lot of people were doing the same thing so we had pressure to
take it to another level.”
He describes their work, as “over the top,” and says they
have to do that to differentiate their work from the multitude of other
gourd artists out there.
They have taken gourd art to the level of mixed media and fine art.
“We’ve got it to the point where most people don’t
realize they are gourds. There is so much mixed media,” he says.
Indian antique art such as you find in New Mexico is a big influence
on their work. “Native American Spanish Colonial. That is what
we do,” he says.
Mark Klay has nothing but praise for the Welburn Gourd Farm. “I’ve
been to a lot of farms and if I could say anything about the Welburn
farm, it is that they have by far the best quality gourds I have seen
He adds, “They are like family to us.”
You will see works that are the mature culmination of a technique that
includes works reminiscent of Spanish colonial santos, like something
you would see in a Spanish church.
View these pieces, which often combine wood, clay and metal, and you
may have to look twice to see that all of it is built over a gourd that
provides the body.
“We have been one of the lucky ones to be able to do this for
a living, says Klay. “Sometimes it’s hard. A lot of the
shows are outdoors, in the heat, in the storms. We even had snow once.
It’s highs and lows. It’s great when it’s great, but
especially in this economy!”
The thing the Klays find most rewarding about shows is meeting the people
who buy their art.
“Over the years we have made some of our best friends that way,
through our clients who have purchased our art and then their friends
have seen them in their homes,” says Klay.
They work together on everything. “There is heavier construction
to the big pieces, but there are moments when four hands are definitely
needed,” he says. “I would have a tough time on my own without
Sue. She is also an excellent painter. I can paint, but Sue is three
times faster. We have each found our places and it works real well.”
Another featured artist is Hesperia-based Gloria Crane, whose work can
be viewed at www.gloriousgourdcreations.com.
She does nearly every kind of gourd art. “I love carving, woodburning,
pine needle coiling (i.e. creating a rim around the gourd and sewing
it on with various types of stitches) painting and embellishing with
She entered the field in 2004 after retiring from the phone company.
“I’ve always dabbled in arts,” she says. “But
one day I was watching a cable TV show and they broke to an interview
with a gourd artist. That piqued my interest.”
She researched on the Internet and saw that the Welburn Gourd Farm was
holding a festival.
“I bought tickets and went. It was the first time I had seen gourd
art and was blown away.” Soon she did her first gourd art and
has been doing it ever since.
She sells gourd art and teaches classes at the farm. She also teaches
classes online, at home and at other gourd art events.
“Wherever I’m asked I will go,” she says. Gourd art
is not hard to get into. “It’s not complicated at all. You
start with basics from a good instructor. It depends on the individual
how far you want to take it. It can get costly with the tools. The more
precise and intricate you want to have high end tools.”
Gourd art may not be for everyone, she says. “It is an individual
preference. I have seen beginners start out rough and bloom into really
good artists. A close friend with arthritis came to a class five year
ago and has had to struggle. She is today an award-winning artist and
she has to really apply herself to do the good woodburning and clean
cuts. It’s what your goals are.”
* * *
The 15th and final International Gourd Festival takes place Saturday,
June 25 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, June 26 from 9 a.m. to
3 p.m. at the Welburn Gourd Farm located at 40635 De Luz Road in Fallbrook.
The cost is $12 for adults if you buy at the gate, or you can buy discounted
tickets online. Kids 12 and under are free as is the parking. Additional
information can be found at www.welburngourdfarm.com
or by calling 1-877-420-2613.
Wholesome Home Cooking, Go To “Sid’s Place”
If you want wholesome food made with natural ingredients at a very affordable
price, go to “Sid’s Place,” which is what habitues
of Chicken Plus in Escondido call this longtime local restaurant.
If the plump, juicy, natural chickens roasting on the rotisserie over
open flames don’t set your mouth to watering as soon as you see
them—you may be dead!
At Sid’s they make a lot of dishes from that chicken, including
chicken salad sandwiches, chicken gyros, chicken breast sandwiches,
along with their well-known chicken combo plates, which may be one of
the best dinner values around: the two piece chicken combo served with
two sides and breadsticks or tortillas is $5.29.
Sid Hedayati has been at the same location (309. W Mission) for 21 years,
serving good quality home cooking at reasonable prices that haven’t
changed all that much in that time.
“Cooking that natural chicken (no hormones) over a direct fire
gives it a good flavor,” he says.
Chicken Plus specializes in Greek fare, but there are also plenty of
satisfying American dishes such as baby back pork ribs, steak and prime
rib if you are not into ethic food.
Sid also carries several fish dishes, such as salmon and catfish, all
caught live, not raised on farms.
“Price wise you get good fish at a price I don’t think you
can get anywhere else,” he says.
And that food is fresh cooked to order. Which means that if you order
fried zucchini, or French fries the cooks will be slicing the zucchini
or potatoes up fresh in the kitchen, not opening a package of frozen
zucchini strips or potatoes.
Their homemade soups and salads are also very popular—and very
As one might suppose, Sid’s is very popular with senior citizens
who like a good deal. However, as Hedayati points out with a smile,
“They weren’t senior citizens when they first started coming
Chicken Plus is also very popular with the doctors and other medical
professionals in the area. They frequently use Chicken Plus’s
catering services. Hedayati thinks it is because he cooks with no preservatives
and with canola oil, which is one of the healthier oils.
“My menu appeals to both the vegetarians and the meat eaters,”
says Hedayati. “If you can make food tasty without the fat—healthy
and tastes good—why not do it?”
And he’s proud of the way his food tastes, so when he serves the
baby-back ribs, he doesn’t smother it in sauce (although you can
get plenty of sauce if you want to do that yourself). “I want
people to see what they are eating!” he says.
Their salads, especially the Greek salads, are very popular. Some folks
like the low-cal Greek dressing so much that they buy it separately.
Other popular items are the gyros plate and lamb shanks.
So are their homemade soups, which, when it’s cold include Greek
lemon soup, lentil, minestrone and chicken noodle. They also make the
occasional cream soups, like cream of broccoli or clam chowder.
Now that summer is here you’ll see more chicken noodle and Greek
“We make our own chicken broth,” he says. “We skim
the fat and you get chicken soup without fat. It makes it healthier.
In fact, lots of people when they are sick want to eat that soup to
He adds, “I feel like I’m a part of the community. It’s
a good feeling to see people who ate here when they were kids bringing
their own kids to eat here!”
Sometimes customers who have moved away from Escondido for several years
are amazed to return and find that one of their favorite restaurants
is still in business. “Customers will bring their friends to visit
a restaurant that was part of their lives when they were younger,”
Chicken Plus is a family affair. Hedayati’s two sons and his wife,
Lynn, all work together. Almost all of his employees have been with
him at least 15-16 years. They are part of the family and, says Hedayati,
treat the place as their home.
The restaurant offers catering for business meetings, weddings and any
Chicken Plus is open seven days a week, Monday–Saturday 11 a.m.–9
p.m. and Sunday, noon–8 p.m.Call 760-480-1348 or visit their Web
site at chickenplus.org.
company comes into town, you want every moment of their visit to be
packed with activities that showcase the coveted culture of the California
lifestyle. The beach, the food and the wine always tempt my out-of-town
family and friends to come visit me. So, when my brother left the snow
for some California sunshine, I started planning.
Water sports were a no brainer, but I didn't want to have to drive too
far to find the nectar of the gods, so I searched for vineyards close
to me. I was shocked to find that the oldest continuously running winery
in Southern California is so close! The Bernardo Winery is still family
owned and operated, and the family (and their dog, Louie) live on property.
The tasting room opens at 9 a.m. (SCORE!) and there is much, much more
on the property than wine.
Driving through the modest entrance, you don't realize how much space
this special place has to offer. The vineyard, tasting room, coffee
shop and gorgeous patio are just the beginning. Check out the Web site
for a full list, and prepare to be impressed by the full service salon,
the glass-blowing studio and 17 other eateries, shops and galleries
onsite. Each has its own distinct personality, complete with thoughtful
details which make for awesome photo opportunities everywhere you look.
You want to drink in the surroundings almost as much as the wine...
At five tastes for eight dollars, it's a good thing the tasting bar
runs the length of the room. That way you aren't crowded as you enjoy
generous portions of wine poured by the stewards, who are friendly and
knowledgeable about all things vino.
I'm usually a red drinker, but tried a few of the recommended whites
and was particularly thrilled with the Chablis. The tasting menu describes
the 2009 Chablis as a “blended white made in the Ol’ Italian
Style... soft, light, and semi-dry,” but all I have ever thought
of when contemplating Chablis is “Oh yeah, that’s boxed
wine, right?” Can you picture that box of wine with its black
plastic handle and rubber mouth lounging in the the corner of the fridge?
Well pitch that thought! Because the Chablis from Bernardo is a delightful
little number that will please seasoned wine drinkers as well as those
new to the experience. I added a bottle to my shopping cart after just
one sip. And that bottle wasn’t lonely long. The Chardonnay was
so balanced that I couldn’t call it oaky or buttery, so I bought
a couple of them in hopes that my husband and friends will help me to
better classify it. Other standouts included the Private Reserve Cabernet
Sauvignon, which had a very berry finish; the Estate Syrah, projecting
a deep rich bouquet; and the Stella Rosa, a surprisingly refreshing
summertime sipper. The price per bottle ranges from $14-$42, so fill
After tasting, we each got one glass to enjoy on the patio, where live
jazz music entertains the crowd every Sunday. (View this month’s
lineup on their Web site.) From our vantage point, we enjoyed various
views as we sipped and savored our (again) very generous pours. One
direction boasted the vineyard, another yielded potted flowers in a
garden of antique treasures, adjacent to that was a structure housing
all the wine barrels (where the magic happens) and next to that, the
Sweet Pea Coffee Cottage.
Being an avid coffee drinker, I had to poke my head inside the Sweet
Pea and check it out. Although small, it was a very cozy and popular
space with every seat occupied. In addition to coffee, espresso and
tea, the menu promoted many other goodies. A fruit and cheese plate
caught my eye while the baked goods flirted with me. There were homemade
dips and grandma’s jams and way too many other treats to try on
one visit! A wall of personalized mugs, hanging ready for their friends
to come back, sit a spell and enjoy the day’s activities completed
the cafe’s warm ambiance.
Along with the shops, salon and galleries that are open daily, a farmer’s
market offers veggies grown on the property, as well as from outside
venders, on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Also onsite is photographer
Brant Bender, and looking at his work, you get a small idea of just
how many different backgrounds with different themes there are on this
property. The different scenes would fit a vast number of personalities,
and I have no doubt that every wedding The Bernardo Winery hosts is
contrastingly different—which is great because with so many of
my friends getting married this year, and everyone on the hunt for the
perfect wedding location, I can recommend The Bernardo Winery to all
of them. I hope the planners onsite have their calendars out, because
the brides are about to start calling!
Even if you don’t have a wedding to plan, or any guests to entertain,
you should head to The Bernardo Winery where the people, the setting,
and of course, the wine, make it a great place to soak up a little of
that Cali cool culture.
The Bernardo Winery is located at 13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte, San
Diego. Visit their website for all the details at http://bernardowinery.com.
P.O.B. 1529, Valley Center, CA 92082
Tel. 760.749.1112 Fax 760.749.1688
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