TEMECULA (CBSLA)  — To many people, the annual hot air balloon and wine festival is the official start of summer for Temecula Valley.

KCAL9’s Tina Patel reports that the once small festival has grown mightily over 35 years.

Seeing the balloons start to take shape and lift up and fill the sky, Isabella Vaughn, 8, said she’s never seen anything like it.

“This was amazing; it was just one of the best days of my life. It was so fun,” said Vaughn.

The sight of the balloons of all shapes and sizes has had people coming back for three decades.

“It’s part of our tradition, the kids are all grown and graduated college. And now they meet us here to enjoy the day,” says Toni Schaffer or Riverside.

“We like the fun, the food, the music, and then also the wine,” said San Diego resident Greg Schenewerk.

When this festival began, there were only six wineries in the Temecula Valley. Now there are over 40, and people from all over the state come to drink up.

“This champagne is unbelievable; I’ve had five or six wines, so I’m actually really good,” said Chris Ledenbach of San Diego.

When it comes to the wine, the balloons or the entertainment, the toughest thing is finding a favorite.

“They’re all just really great,” Vaughn gushed.

The festival continues through the weekend with gates opening at 6 a.m. each day.

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