Thornton Winery Review
Address: 32575 Rancho California Rd. Temecula,California 92589.
Phone Number: 951-699-0099
Tasting Hours: 10:00-5:00
Region: South Coast and S. California, Temecula Valley AVA, California
Reviewer: Tara Torres
Review Date: 6/11/2013
Reviewer: Tara Torres
The Place:  As a well-established winery in the Temecula Wine Country, Thornton Winery presents itself with sophistication and class. In addition to the vines, the landscape is impeccably manicured. Green landscaping with boulders, water features, and stone masonry buildings provide a traditional feel to the winery. A water fountain adds to the stately ambience of the courtyard, and ample shaded patio areas are available for enjoying Thornton’s wines in the glorious California sunshine. The Champagne Lounge offers a full wine tasting menu along with a short menu of food options, and the Café Champagne offers a full gourmet menu. Thornton further distinguishes itself by providing sit-down tasting services, eliminating the need for an extensive bar.
The Experience: As one of the few Temecula wineries that offers a sit-down restaurant, we opted to have lunch prior to wine tasting. While the food was tasty, the prices were high and the portions were small. Visitors have the option of combining lunch with a wine tasting, but we chose to walk across the courtyard after lunch to the tasting café. We walked through the gift shop and were a bit confused by the layout. Instead of a long bar to lean against, there were tables and chairs scattered inside and outside on the patio. We were promptly greeted, and the host explained that Thornton offers sit-down tastings. Thornton also provides wine tasting by flights, vice having visitors choose which wines to taste. There are eight different flights, and each flight has four different samples. All four wines are brought at the same time and placed on a sheet of paper that describes each wine. It made for a crowded table, but it also eliminated having to flag down the server for the next pour. I asked the server how they manage during the heavy weekend crowds. The polite and friendly server said that they have another room that they can use, and that they prefer the sit-down wine tasting as its actually faster than the traditional wine tasting bar. Overall it was a low stress, very enjoyable tasting experience.
The Wines:  As the wine tasting is by the flight, you can choose from eight differ choices. The wine flight options are the Winemakers Choice, Sweet Sippers, Chocolate Lovers, Red Wine, White Wine, California Champagne, Red and White wine, and the Reserve Flight. Prices range from $11-19 per flight. Thornton Winery offers six different Champagnes, ten white wines, five reds, and four chocolate wines. I opted for the Red and White flight, while my friend chose the Sweet Sippers. My favorite of the wine whites was the 2012 Reserve Chardonnay, and my favorite red wine was the 2010 Thornys Coat Red, a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Barbera. On the sweeter side, the 2012 Muscat Canelli and the Toot Sweet Red were tasty options. The wine at Thornton was decent, but not cheap. Wine prices range from $36 to $58 a bottle.
Insiders Tip: Thornton Winery is currently celebrating their 25th anniversary of their Champagne Jazz Series Concerts, featuring some of the top Jazz musicians at their outdoor venue. Single event tickets and season passes are available. Thornton offers two wine clubs which include a variety of food, wine and event discounts. Thornton also provides a wonderful venue for a Temecula wine country wedding. Couples have a variety of venue choices to include the Champagne Lounge, the Vineyard View Room, the Champagne Lounge, the Production Area, or the Fountain Terrace, which provides guests a beautiful view of the vineyards.