Temecula (/təˈmɛkjʊlə/; Spanish: Temécula, [te'mekula]; Luiseño: Temeekunga) is a city in southwestern Riverside County, California, United States. The city had a population of 110,003 as of the 2020 census and was incorporated on December 1, 1989. The city is a tourist and resort destination, with the Temecula Valley Wine Country, Old Town Temecula, the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, the Temecula Valley International Film Festival, championship golf courses, and resort accommodations contributing to the city's economic profile.
The city of Temecula, forming the southwestern anchor of the Inland Empire region, is approximately 58 miles (93 km) north of downtown San Diego and 85 miles (137 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Although Temecula is geographically closer to downtown San Diego than downtown Los Angeles, it is considered part of the Greater Los Angeles area. Temecula is bordered by the city of Murrieta to the north and the Pechanga Indian Reservation and San Diego County to the south. Temecula is also the principal city of the Temecula–Murrieta–Menifee, CA urban area, which had a population of 528,991 as of the 2020 census.
In 1882, the United States government established the Pechanga Indian Reservation of approximately 4,000 acres (16 km2) some 6 miles (9.7 km) from downtown Temecula. Also in 1882, the California Southern Railroad, a subsidiary of the Santa Fe Railroad, completed construction of the section from National City to Temecula. In 1883, the line was extended to San Bernardino. In the late 1880s, a series of floods washed out the tracks and the section of the railroad through the canyon was finally abandoned. The old Temecula station was used as a barn and later demolished.
In the 1890s, with the operation of granite stone quarries, Temecula granite was shaped into fence and hitching posts, curbstones, courthouse steps, and building blocks. At the turn of the 20th century, Temecula became an important shipping point for grain and cattle.
In 1904, Walter Vail, who had come to the United States with his parents from Nova Scotia, migrated to California. Along with various partners, he began buying land in Southern California. Vail bought ranchland in the Temecula Valley, buying 38,000 acres (154 km2) of Rancho Temecula and Rancho Pauba, along with the northern half of Rancho Little Temecula. Vail was killed by a streetcar in Los Angeles in 1906; his son, Mahlon Vail, took over the family ranch. In 1914, financed by Mahlon Vail and local ranchers, the First National Bank of Temecula opened on Front Street. In 1915, the first paved, two-lane county road was built through Temecula.
By 1947, the Vail Ranch contained over 87,500 acres (354 km2). In 1948, the Vail family built a dam to catch the Temecula Creek water and created Vail Lake. Through the mid-1960s, the economy of the Temecula Valley centered around the Vail Ranch; the cattle business and agriculture were the stimuli for most business ventures.
In 1964, the Vail Ranch was sold to the Kaiser—Aetna partnership. A later purchase by the group brought the total area to 97,500 acres (395 km2), and the area became known as Rancho California.
In the 1970 census, the United States Census Bureau enumerated the population of the entire Murrieta-Rancho California-Temecula area at 2,769.
In 1970, the Temecula Town Association, a non-profit, charitable organization, incorporated. In 1977, the present-day Rancho California Water District was formed. On November 5, 1979, KRTM 88.9 FM went on the air in Temecula.
In the 1980 census, 10,215 people were enumerated in the area, a 269 percent increase from the prior census.
In 1984, the Temecula American Viticultural Area (AVA), the official designation for the local wine country (renamed the Temecula Valley AVA in 2004), was established. In 1985, the completion of Interstate 15 between the Greater Los Angeles area and San Diego began a subdivision land boom, making it possible to own a new home in Temecula and have a manageable work commute to San Diego County.
On December 1, 1989, Temecula incorporated as a city, with Ron Parks as the first mayor.
In 1990, the first United States Census Bureau count of Temecula as a city enumerated 27,099 people. The 1990s brought rapid growth to the Temecula Valley. Many families began moving to the area from San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County, drawn by the affordable housing prices and the popular wine country.
From 1993 to 1998, Zev Buffman, and later with Dusty Rogers, son of Roy Rogers, promoted an historic district entertainment venue project renamed RogersDale U.S.A.
In 1995, the Pechanga Pow Wow began.
On October 27, 1999, the Promenade Mall opened in Temecula.
In 2005, Temecula annexed the master-planned community of Redhawk, bringing the population to 90,000. After a period of rapid population growth and home construction, the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis and the resultant United States housing market correction caused a sharp rise in home foreclosures in the Temecula-Murrieta region.
In 2012, the city and the Pechanga tribe successfully blocked a proposal by Granite Construction to construct a rock quarry south of the city. The Pechanga tribe purchased the 365-acre site for $3 million, now known as Pu'eska Mountain.
In 2013, the 140-bed Temecula Valley Hospital opened, providing the city with a full range of hospital services.
In 2016, the Vail Headquarters historic district opened in the Redhawk Towne Center shopping center, repurposing several historic buildings such as the Wolf Store for retail, dining, and entertainment uses.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.19 square miles (96.3 km2), of which 37.18 square miles (96.3 km2) of it is land and 0.012 square miles (0.031 km2) of it (0.03%) is water. South of the city, Murrieta Creek and Temecula Creek join to form the Santa Margarita River.
Temecula has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa). August is typically the hottest month of the year with December being the coldest month. Most precipitation occurs from November to March with February being the wettest month. Winter storms generally bring moderate precipitation, but strong winter storms are not uncommon especially during "El Niño" years. The driest month is June. Annual precipitation is 14.14 inches (359 mm). Morning marine layer is common during May and June. From July to September, Temecula experiences hot, dry weather with the occasional North American monsoonal flow that increases the humidity and brings isolated thunderstorms. Most of the storms tend to be short-lived with little rainfall. During late fall into winter, Temecula experiences dry, windy northeastern Santa Ana winds. Snowfall is rare, but Temecula has experienced traces of snowfall on occasion, some as recently as December 2014. A rare F1 tornado touched down in a Temecula neighborhood on February 19, 2005.
Temecula Wine Country
The Temecula Valley Wine Country, whose first commercial winegrapes were planted in 1967, features over 40 wineries, a variety of tasting rooms, and more than 3,500 acres (14 km2) of producing vineyards. The wine country is a few miles east of Old Town Temecula. The annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, held at nearby Lake Skinner, offers live entertainment, hot air balloon rides, and wine tasting.
Temecula Golf Courses
There are several local golf courses, including Pechanga's Journey, Redhawk, Temecula Creek Inn, The Legends Golf Club at Temeku Hills, CrossCreek, Pala Mesa Resort (near Fallbrook) and The Golf Club at Rancho California (in nearby Murrieta).
Old Town Temecula
Old Town Temecula, the city's downtown district, is a collection of historic buildings, hotels, museums, event centers, specialty food stores, restaurants, boutiques, gift and collectible stores, and antique dealers. On Saturdays, Old Town has an outdoor farmers' market featuring approximately 70 to 80 local vendors.Old Town is also home to special events like the Rod Run car show, Art and Street Painting Festival, Santa's Electric Parade Show, western days, and summer entertainment. Old Town also hosts a growing nightlife.
Old Town is also home to the Temecula Valley Museum, which features exhibits about the local band of Native Americans and the local natural history and city development. The City Hall is located in the center of Old Town.
Old Town has the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, a 354-seat proscenium theater as well as The Merc, a 48-seat blackbox performance venue adjacent to the main theater.
Pechanga Resort and Casino
In 2002, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians opened the $262 million Pechanga Resort & Casino outside city limits. It employs 5,000 people and is Temecula Valley's largest employer.
Temecula Bluegrass Festival
Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival
Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival
Temecula Street Painting Festival
Temecula Greek Festival
Taste of Temecula Valley
Temecula Parks and recreation
Temecula has 41 parks, 22 miles (35 km) of trails, and 14 major community facilities. In 2013, it was named a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community and it was named a Playful City USA. Temecula's Pennypickle's Workshop was a winner of Nickelodeon's Parents' Picks Award for "Best Museum" and "Best Kids' Party Place". Temecula's sports parks include the Ronald Reagan Sports Park (formerly the Rancho California Sports Park) and the Patricia H. Birdsall Sports Park.
Public schools in Temecula are operated by the Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD), whose schools are consistently ranked as having the highest Academic Performance Indices within Riverside County. Great Oak, Chaparral, and Temecula Valley high schools have all received silver medals in the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings awarded by U.S. News & World Report.
The district's general boundaries extend north to French Valley, south to the Riverside/San Diego county line, east to Vail Lake, and west to the Temecula city limit. The district covers approximately 148 square miles (383 km2), with an enrollment of over 28,000 students.
Concord Lutheran Academy
Linfield Christian School
Rancho Christian School
Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac School
Van Avery Prep
Julian Charter School of Temecula
River Springs Charter School
Temecula International Academy
Temecula Preparatory School
Temecula Valley Charter School
Temecula is home to Mt. San Jacinto College, a public community college. Mt. San Jacinto College relocated from a smaller site west of Interstate 15 after purchasing two five-story buildings from Abbott Vascular in 2018. The first phase of the nearly 350,000 square-foot campus opened in August 2021. Temecula is also home to a satellite campus for California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), which offers several online and certificate programs. National University, University of Redlands, Concordia University, and San Joaquin Valley College also have education centers in Temecula. Temecula is also home to Professional Golfers Career College, a vocational school for those wishing to enter the golf industry.
Notable & Famous People Associated with Temecula:
Nate Adams, freestyle motocross rider
Tim Barela, comic strip author
Maurice Benard, actor
Rob Brantly, Major League Baseball catcher, attended Chaparral High School
Allen Craig, former Major League Baseball first baseman and outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, caught last out of the 2011 World Series
Timmy Curran, professional surfer
Terrell Davis, retired Denver Broncos Pro Bowl running back
Brian Deegan, freestyle motocross rider and founder of Metal Mulisha, had an estate in Temecula; he put it up for sale in 2020.
Hailie Deegan, NASCAR driver and daughter of Brian Deegan
Larry Fortensky, last husband of Elizabeth Taylor
Andy Fraser, songwriter and musician
Erle Stanley Gardner, author, wrote over 100 of the Perry Mason novels at his Temecula ranch, "Rancho del Paisano" between 1931 and his death in 1970
Sarah Hammer, professional racing cyclist and two-time Olympic silver medalist
Christy Hemme, professional wrestler and manager
Dan Henderson, mixed martial artist and Greco-Roman wrestling Olympian
Reed Johnson, Major League Baseball outfielder
Tori Kelly, singer and songwriter
Troy Lyndon, CEO of Inspired Media Entertainment and developer of the first 3D Madden NFL game
Cindy Marina, Miss Universe Albania 2019
Margaret Martin, professional bodybuilder
Julie Masi, member of the Parachute Club music group, resided in Temecula 1990-2005
Sydnee Michaels, LPGA Tour golfer
Trevi Moran, YouTuber and X-Factor contestant 2012
Dean Norris, actor, best known for Breaking Bad
Antonio Pontarelli, rock violinist, grand champion of NBC's America's Most Talented Kids
Brooks Pounders, Major League Baseball pitcher
Olivia Rodrigo, actress and singer-songwriter
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo creator
Justin Simon (born 1996), basketball player for Bnei Herzliya of the Israeli Basketball Premier League
Taylor Tomlinson, stand-up comedian and podcaster
Mark Towle, automobile customizer
Kelsie Whitmore, professional baseball player
Cassidy Wolf, Miss California Teen USA 2013, Miss Teen USA 2013
Xenia, singer, appeared on Season 1 of The Voice
Jerry Yang, 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event winner
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