Back in Time: Winchester Western Saddlery

Imagine a time back in the late 1800’s when cowboys and ranch hands were one of the main workforces in what is now known as the City of Temecula. In 1905, over 87,500 acres was purchased by cattle baron Walter Vail to form what eventually became the Vail Ranch. The ranch was run by his youngest son, Mahlon Vail, who took over management of the ranch after his father was tragically killed in a San Francisco streetcar accident in 1906. The Vail Ranch provided cattle grazing and feedlot operations until 1964 when the ranch was sold to developers. All the way up to the 1970’s, Temecula was a town where cattle and horses replaced cars, and daily living centered around the true western lifestyle.

winchester western saddleryFast forward to December 2016 and modern Temecula welcomes the opening of “Your New Favorite Tack Store” Winchester Western Saddlery, at the living historic park, Vail Headquarters. Winchester Western Saddlery opened it’s doors in the restored “bunkhouse” building of the original trading post. Completely restored while preserving the old West feeling, the tack store offers new and consigned tack, in the spirit of the equestrian lifestyle.

Winchester Western Saddlery is the realized dream of Diana Wilstermann, who started out from her home as Diana’s Unique Tack back in 2004. In 2012, she moved the business to a warehouse/showroom location in an Industrial Park just south of the French Valley Airport. Not only did the warehouse location provide a base for internet and mobile store operations, it also provided a beautiful showroom where, by appointment, she supplied some of the most unique and traditional cowboy using gear in California. Realizing the warehouse was difficult for some customers to find, in 2015, Diana and her husband, Art, decided to look for a retail location. The perfect location was found at the historic Vail Ranch Headquarters on Temecula Parkway at Redhawk Parkway. Thanks to the Vail Ranch Restoration Association (VaRRA), plans were finally underway to restore the buildings and turn it into a new community destination of shops, dining and family oriented activities.

winchester western saddleryThe store carries on the true feeling of the Old West, down to the refurbished 100 year old original hardwood floors, to the bunkhouse room that will remain on display for all to see what housing was like for those hard working cowboys of days past. Winchester Western Saddlery carries a wide selection of new western tack in all sizes, including saddles, pads, bridles, reins, bits and much more. Hand braided rawhide and natural hair mecates, split and roping reins are the cornerstones of the inventory. Shoppers can find Yucca Flats Saddle Blankets, 5 Star Saddlepads and Winchester Western is the only dealer for CSI Saddlepads in Southern California.

Working with many local craftspeople, specialty and custom orders will be one of the hallmarks of the store. They welcome the chance to work with customers to make that one of a kind headstall or choose custom reins made from mohair, angora, mane hair or alpaca in your special color. Winchester Western also carries a large selection of hand braided horsehair items such as hatband, stampede strings, shu-flys and tassels in almost every color imaginable.

winchester western saddleryInitially opening with 1800 square feet of store space, Diana, Art and their daughter Julie Inserra and her sister Cathy Culbertson are making it a family shop and expanding to open the consignment department in the next few months. This will add another 800 square feet for stable supplies as well as used and consigned Saddles, Tack and Clothing. This fits a need here in the Temecula Valley to offer both buyers and sellers a great retail outlet for both Western and English items. In the new year, they will also be offering a pick up service at the store for leather work and tack/saddle repair. Many gift and décor items are also found at Winchester Western…their diverse inventory will have what you need, making it truly, “your new favorite tack store!”

Everyone is invited to the Grand Opening in February, so stop by and pick out your unique equestrian treasures. Store hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 7 pm, Sunday 10 am – 5 pm, Closed Monday. Follow them on Facebook for advance notification of special events and sales. For more information call the store at (951)894-2501. The store is located in the back of the Vail Headquarters development at 32123 Temecula Parkway, Unit A, Temecula, CA 92592.