Thornton Winery: A Guide to Temecula's Premier Wine Destination

Thornton Winery is a historic winery located in Temecula Valley's Wine Country in California. The winery is known for its award-winning varietal wines, including its famous sparkling wine made using the Méthod Champenoise process. Owned by John M. and Steve Thornton, the winery features a French-style chateau, a Champagne Lounge, a fountain terrace, and a gift shop.

Visitors to Thornton Winery can enjoy the old-world charm and new-world flavor of the winery while tasting the difference at one of the upcoming Friday music events. During the warmer months, the winery becomes one of Southern California's premier concert venues. In addition to wine tasting, Thornton Winery also offers a fine dining experience at Café Champagne, the winery's award-winning restaurant. The restaurant features French Country Elegance and Gold Medal-winning Contemporary Cuisine, with a menu that changes seasonally.

Thornton Winery is a premier winery in Southern California's Temecula Valley, offering 15,000 cases of award-winning sparkling and premium wines, as well as gourmet cuisine, live music, and wedding and banquet facilities. The winery is a popular destination for wine enthusiasts, music lovers, and foodies alike. With its picturesque setting, historic charm, and commitment to excellence, Thornton Winery is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Temecula Valley Wine Country.

History of Thornton Winery

Founding and Development

Thornton Winery was founded in 1988 by John Thornton and his son Steve Thornton. The winery is located in Temecula Valley, California, and has become a renowned destination for wine enthusiasts. John Thornton had a background in construction and real estate, and he used his expertise to construct the winery's facilities. The winery's first vintage was produced in 1988, and it was a sparkling wine made using the Methode Champenoise process.

Over the years, Thornton Winery has expanded its production to include a wide range of wines, including red, white, and rose varietals. The winery has also become known for its live music events, which are held on the winery's grounds. These events have featured performances by a variety of well-known artists, including Kenny G, The Beach Boys, and George Benson.

Steve Thornton's Vision

Steve Thornton has been instrumental in the development of Thornton Winery. He has a passion for wine and has worked tirelessly to ensure that the winery produces high-quality wines that reflect the unique character of the Temecula Valley. Steve has also been responsible for the winery's expansion, which has included the construction of a new tasting room and event center.

Steve's vision for Thornton Winery has always been to create a destination that offers a unique wine experience. He has achieved this by focusing on quality, innovation, and customer service. The winery's success is a testament to Steve's dedication and hard work.

In conclusion, Thornton Winery has a rich history that spans over three decades. The winery's founders, John and Steve Thornton, have worked tirelessly to create a destination that offers high-quality wines and a unique wine experience. Thornton Winery is a testament to the power of hard work and dedication, and it continues to be a beloved destination for wine enthusiasts from around the world.

Thornton Winery Wines

Thornton Winery is situated in the heart of Temecula Valley's Wine Country, where they produce exceptional, award-winning wines that are sure to delight your senses. With a perfect blend of old-world charm and new-world flavor, Thornton Winery offers a unique wine experience that is hard to match.

Varietal Wines

Thornton Winery produces a wide range of varietal wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Each wine is crafted with care, using only the highest quality grapes to produce exceptional flavors and aromas.

Méthode Champenoise Process

Thornton Winery is known for its use of the Méthode Champenoise process, which is used to produce their award-winning sparkling wines. This process involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which gives the wine its signature bubbles and unique flavor profile.

Award-Winning Selections

Thornton Winery has won numerous awards for their exceptional wines, including the prestigious "Winery of the Year" award from the California State Fair. Their wines have also been recognized by Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and other respected wine publications.

Overall, Thornton Winery offers a unique and exceptional wine experience that is sure to delight any wine lover. With a wide range of varietal wines, sparkling wines, and an award-winning selection, it is no wonder why Thornton Winery is considered one of the top wineries in Temecula Valley's Wine Country.

Winery Tours and Tastings

Thornton Winery offers an exceptional experience for wine enthusiasts who want to taste and learn about their award-winning varietal wines. The winery provides two options for visitors: a tasting room experience and guided tours.

Tasting Room Experience

The tasting room at Thornton Winery is open to the public seven days a week and offers visitors the chance to taste a variety of wines. Guests can choose from a selection of red, white, and sparkling wines, and the knowledgeable staff is on hand to answer any questions and provide recommendations. The tasting room is a great way to experience Thornton Winery's wines in a relaxed and casual setting.

Guided Tour Options

Thornton Winery offers a variety of guided tour options for visitors who want to learn more about the winemaking process. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who take guests through the techniques and tools of the vinification process of making sparkling wine using the traditional Methodé Champenoise. Visitors will learn everything from the fermentation tanks and en tirage in the caves to the disgorging process.

The winery offers private tours, which take visitors through the winery's facilities and provide a more personalized experience. The private tours are ideal for groups who want to learn about the winemaking process in a more intimate setting.

Overall, Thornton Winery offers a great experience for wine enthusiasts who want to taste and learn about their award-winning varietal wines. Whether you choose to visit the tasting room or take a guided tour, you are sure to leave with a greater appreciation for the art of winemaking.

Culinary Offerings

Thornton Winery offers an exceptional culinary experience with its award-winning restaurant, Café Champagne. The restaurant has been serving guests since 1988 with its French Country Elegance and Contemporary Fusion Cuisine.

Café Champagne

Café Champagne is an elegant restaurant located in the heart of Thornton Winery. The restaurant offers a sophisticated dining experience with its gold medal-winning contemporary cuisine. The menu features a variety of dishes, including seafood, steak, and vegetarian options. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list, featuring wines from the winery and other local vineyards.

Contemporary Fusion Cuisine

The executive chef at Café Champagne creates contemporary fusion cuisine that is both innovative and delicious. The menu changes seasonally to feature the freshest ingredients available. Dishes are beautifully presented and incorporate a variety of flavors and textures.

Dining Reservations

To ensure guests have the best dining experience, Thornton Winery recommends making reservations in advance. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday. Guests can make reservations online or by phone.

Overall, Thornton Winery's culinary offerings provide an exceptional dining experience for guests. The combination of French Country Elegance and Contemporary Fusion Cuisine, along with an extensive wine list, make Café Champagne a must-visit restaurant in Temecula Valley.

Events and Hospitality

Thornton Winery offers a variety of events and hospitality services that cater to different preferences and occasions. From the intimate Champagne Lounge to the spacious Fountain Terrace, the winery provides guests with a memorable experience that combines great wine, food, and ambiance.

Champagne Lounge

The Champagne Lounge is a cozy and elegant space that offers guests an intimate setting to enjoy Thornton Winery's award-winning sparkling wines. The lounge features comfortable seating, a fireplace, and a stunning view of the winery's beautiful garden. Guests can also enjoy a selection of appetizers and small plates that complement the wines.

Fountain Terrace

The Fountain Terrace is an expansive outdoor venue that can accommodate up to 300 guests. The terrace features a beautiful fountain, a stage for live entertainment, and a breathtaking view of the winery's vineyards. The venue is perfect for weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions. Guests can enjoy a variety of menu options that feature fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Private Events

Thornton Winery also offers private event spaces that are perfect for smaller gatherings and meetings. The winery's location and service make it an ideal venue for corporate events and team-building activities. Guests can take advantage of the winery's amenities, such as the gift shop and wine tasting room, to enhance their experience.

Reservations are recommended for all events and hospitality services at Thornton Winery. Guests can make reservations through the winery's website or by calling the reservation line. The winery's knowledgeable staff is always available to answer any questions and ensure that guests have a memorable experience.

Visiting Thornton Winery

If you are planning a trip to Temecula Valley, make sure to visit Thornton Winery, the original Champagne House. The winery offers a perfect blend of old-world charm and new-world flavor, which results in exceptional, award-winning varietal wines that are sure to delight your senses.

Hours of Operation

Thornton Winery is open for visitors from Sunday to Thursday, from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and on Fridays and Saturdays, from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. The winery is closed on certain holidays, so it's best to check their website or call ahead to confirm their hours of operation.

Location and Directions

Thornton Winery is located at 32575 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, California. The winery is easily accessible from the I-15 freeway and is just a short drive from the heart of Temecula. Visitors can use their GPS to navigate to the winery, or they can follow the directions provided on the winery's website.

Accommodations Nearby

There are several accommodations near Thornton Winery that visitors can choose from. Some of the popular options include the Temecula Creek Inn, the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa, and the Carter Estate Winery and Resort. Visitors can choose from a variety of lodging options, ranging from budget-friendly hotels to luxurious resorts.

Shopping at Thornton

If you are looking for a unique gift or souvenir to take home from your visit to Thornton Winery, the Winery Gift Shop is the perfect place to start. The shop offers a wide variety of wine-related merchandise, including wine glasses, bottle openers, and wine racks. You can also find a selection of gourmet food items, such as chocolates and olive oil, that pair perfectly with Thornton's wines.

In addition to the Winery Gift Shop, Thornton Winery also offers a Wine Club Membership program. Members receive exclusive access to limited-release wines, discounts on wine purchases, and invitations to members-only events. The Wine Club Membership is a great value for those who frequent the winery or enjoy Thornton's wines at home.

Overall, shopping at Thornton Winery is a great way to take home a piece of Wine Country and enjoy the value of Thornton's award-winning wines.

Vineyards and Production


Thornton Winery is located in the heart of the Temecula Valley Wine Country, where the climate and soil are ideal for growing high-quality wine grapes. The vineyards are planted with a variety of grapes, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, among others. The winery has a total of 23 acres of vineyards, which are meticulously maintained to ensure the best possible grape quality.

Wine Production Techniques

Thornton Winery employs the Méthode Champenoise process, which is a traditional method of producing sparkling wine. This process involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which creates the bubbles in the wine. The winery also uses other traditional winemaking techniques, such as barrel aging and blending, to produce its award-winning wines.

The winery's production process is a blend of old world style and new world taste. The winemakers at Thornton Winery use traditional techniques to produce wines that are rich in flavor and complexity, while also incorporating modern techniques to ensure consistency and quality. The winery produces approximately 15,000 cases of wine annually, which are sold both locally and internationally.

Overall, Thornton Winery is committed to producing high-quality wines that reflect the unique terroir of the Temecula Valley Wine Country. The winery's dedication to viticulture and wine production techniques has earned it numerous awards and accolades, and it continues to be a leader in the Southern California wine industry.

Sustainability Practices

Thornton Winery is committed to sustainable practices that help protect the environment and promote community involvement. The winery has implemented several initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, including reducing water usage, recycling, and using renewable energy sources.

Environmentally Friendly Initiatives

Thornton Winery has implemented several environmentally friendly initiatives to reduce its environmental impact. The winery has installed solar panels on its roof to generate electricity, reducing its reliance on non-renewable energy sources. Additionally, the winery has implemented water-saving measures, such as using drip irrigation systems and capturing and reusing rainwater.

In addition to these initiatives, Thornton Winery has implemented a recycling program to reduce waste. The winery recycles cardboard, glass, and other materials, and composts organic waste. The winery also uses eco-friendly cleaning products and has implemented energy-efficient lighting throughout its facilities.

Community Involvement

Thornton Winery is committed to supporting the local community and promoting sustainability. The winery has implemented several initiatives to promote community involvement, including hosting events and activities that promote sustainability and supporting local farmers and businesses.

One of the ways Thornton Winery promotes sustainability and community involvement is through its herb garden. The winery grows herbs on site, which are used in the winery's restaurant and sold to visitors. The herb garden also serves as an educational tool, teaching visitors about sustainable agriculture and the importance of locally grown produce.

Overall, Thornton Winery is committed to promoting sustainability and community involvement. The winery's environmentally friendly initiatives and community involvement programs demonstrate its commitment to protecting the environment and supporting the local community.

Meet the Team

Thornton Winery is home to a dedicated team of professionals who are passionate about creating exceptional wines and providing excellent service to their customers. Here's a brief overview of the key members of the team:

Executive Chef Tom Stolzer

Executive Chef Tom Stolzer is the mastermind behind the delicious food served at Thornton Winery's Cafe Champagne. With over 30 years of experience in the culinary industry, Chef Stolzer brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. He is passionate about creating dishes that perfectly complement the winery's award-winning wines. Chef Stolzer's menu is designed to showcase the best of California cuisine, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Winemaking Team

The winemaking team at Thornton Winery is led by Lisa, an experienced winemaker with a deep knowledge of the Temecula Valley region. Lisa and her team are dedicated to producing high-quality wines that reflect the unique terroir of the area. They use traditional winemaking techniques combined with modern technology to create wines that are both elegant and complex. The winery's signature sparkling wines are made using the méthode champenoise, a labor-intensive process that involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Dedicated Staff

The dedicated staff at Thornton Winery includes servers, bartenders, and other hospitality professionals who are committed to providing exceptional service to every guest. They are knowledgeable about the winery's wines and food offerings, and are always happy to make recommendations or answer any questions. Whether you're visiting for a wine tasting, a meal at Cafe Champagne, or a special event, the staff at Thornton Winery will make sure you have a memorable experience.

Overall, the team at Thornton Winery is committed to providing a world-class wine and dining experience to every guest. From Executive Chef Tom Stolzer's innovative cuisine to Lisa and her team's expert winemaking skills, to the dedicated staff who ensure that every visit is enjoyable, Thornton Winery is a must-visit destination for wine lovers and foodies alike.

Customer Experience

Service Quality

Thornton Winery is known for its exceptional service quality. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to help. Customers have reported that they feel welcomed and appreciated, and that the staff goes above and beyond to ensure a pleasant experience. The winery offers several amenities to enhance the customer experience, including a gift shop and a tasting room.

Guest Reviews

Guest reviews of Thornton Winery are overwhelmingly positive. Customers praise the winery for its beautiful location, delicious wines, and exceptional service. Many customers have reported that they enjoyed the dining experience at the winery's award-winning restaurant, Café Champagne. Guests have also praised the winery's wine tastings, which offer a wide variety of wines to choose from.

One guest wrote, "Thornton Winery is a must-visit for anyone in the Temecula area. The wines are delicious, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the location is absolutely beautiful. We also had lunch at Café Champagne and it was one of the best meals we've had in a long time. Highly recommend!"

Overall, Thornton Winery offers a top-notch customer experience. From the exceptional service to the delicious wines and beautiful location, customers are sure to have a memorable experience at this winery.