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Posts Tagged ‘thornton wines’

Dream Big ~ John Thornton, Thornton Winery

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Check in every month where we feature a new interview with a Temecula Valley winery owner. You’ll learn where they came from before settling in Temecula, CA – and what keeps them passionate about the sometimes not-so-glamorous life of a winery owner.

The Thornton Family l-r:  Steve, Sally and John

The Thornton Family
l-r: Steve, Sally and John

Our ongoing series this month features John Thornton, of Thornton Winery, one of the valley’s “first”, which opened for business way back in 1988.  Learn why, after almost 30 years, “Mr. T”, as he’s lovingly known to us, still lives and breathes wine.

Why – or how on earth! – did you get into the wine business? And why was Temecula your chosen region?
Well, Sally and I used to travel extensively on business and everywhere we’d visit, we’d try to eat and drink local.  We loved the social aspect of food and wine together.  We thought, “Hey, we can start our own place and offer food and wine and it’ll be easy.” Boy, were we WRONG!  At the time, Ely Callaway was marketing Temecula as the perfect place to make wine and although the area had a small wine industry, we did some research and it did appear to be a “natural” fit for a wine country and poised for growth.

Running a small family winery – even one that’s been around for awhile like Thornton has – must present a unique set of challenges. What keeps you up at night? And what gets you up in the morning?
I think some of the same things that keep most business owners up at night; but for us it’s how to sell our wine, what wines to make, how to keep our customers happy, cash flow….but Steve works this part of the business, so I sleep pretty darn good!  What gets me up in the morning?  I get excited about the challenges in the business actually.  Challenges can be opportunities and we can take a challenge and turn it into something positive.

What do you MOST love about the wine industry?
What I love most about the wine industry is the people.  There are some of the nicest and most genuine people in this industry.  Another thing about this industry that is so great is sharing food and wine with friends;  it’s a wonderful thing.  You add music to that, and you’ve got the perfect combination.

Speaking of music, Champagne Jazz has been a staple in the music industry – and at Thornton – for almost 30 (!) years. Are you proud with its effect on our little wine country?
When we started Champagne Jazz, we never expected it to be what it is today.  It’s had a long life and it’s taken years and a lot of hard work to formulate.  It’s a continuous challenge to combine a food, wine and musical experience that will appeal to a broad audience.  We’re really proud that we’re bringing in some of the best jazz performers in the world.

Cafe Champagne was THE first restaurant in wine country. That must present its own unique opportunities and challenges?
Our biggest challenge was learning the food business.  It’s a tough business.  You’ve got to do a lot of research and make sure that you’ve got what people want.  You’ve got to come up with menus that appeal to customers and you’ve got to make the prices competitive in order to bring the people in.  The restaurant was originally “high-end”, but it’s now more casual.  Steve’s been teaching me that it isn’t always about what I want!  The customer is always right.  We’ve got to listen to them, try to pair the food and wine well, and make them happy.  We’ve got a lot more competition with our neighbors now, and while this is inevitable, it just keeps us planning and adapting.  We’re watching the valley get better and better and it’s exciting to watch!

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World of Wine Preview: Tickets On Sale Now for VIP Winemaker Dinner, Vineyard Tour & Breakfast, Special Overnight & Shuttle Packages

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Temecula Valley’s first passport event of 2013 is just one week away!

WORLD OF WINE WEEKEND IS MARCH 2-3.

Southern California food and wine-lovers who are looking to bundle their event tickets with a special VIP experience, a shuttle service, an overnight stay – or all of the above! – can choose from several World of Wine packages.

*New VIP packages for 2013! Tickets are limited, reserve today.

 

Saturday, March 2: WoW Passport PLUS Thornton Winemaker Dinner
Join veteran winemaker, David Vergari and winery owner Steve Thornton for a scrumptious four-course dinner perfectly paired with Thornton wines.

$179 for World of Wine 2-Day Passport Ticket + Dinner
*  Amuse-bouche; served with NV Thornton Blanc de Noirs
*  Individual tapas plate: fennel salami, garlic shrimp cannellini bean salad, saffron aioli; served with Thornton 2011 Chardonnay
*  Slow-braised boneless beef short ribs, creamy soft white cheddar polenta and spring vegetable ragout with an Estate Syrah demi-glace; served with 2010 Thornton Estate Syrah
*  Old-fashioned strawberry shortcake with a Cherry Caramel Kiss wine reduction; served with a Caramel Cherry Kiss!

Sunday, March 3: WoW Passport PLUS Cougar Winery Vineyard Tour and Breakfast
Join Cougar Winery for a behind the scenes “Ground to Glass” vineyard and winemaking tour with continental breakfast.

$114 for World of Wine 2-Day Passport Ticket + Vineyard Tour and Breakfast
*  Check in time is 8:45am
*  Tour starts promptly at 9am
*  Includes a glass of Cougar bubbly and continental breakfast

 

 

 

World of Wine shuttle and overnight packages

WoW + Ride Transportation Package
    • WoW + Ride packages are from $59-$189.  
    • Event guests can leave the driving to the professionals during World of Wine Weekend! Grapeline Wine Country Shuttle offers several packages, which include: passport event tickets, pick-up / drop-off, shuttle service to 9-10 wineries per day, wine and food samples at each winery stop, map of Temecula Valley and a souvenir glass.
    • Grapeline shuttles pick up at all local hotels and at Pechanga Casino for day-trippers. Guests who book these packages get to skip the check-in process at the TVWA.
    • Got event tickets and just need a ride?  Grapeline offers a 2-day shuttle, Saturday shuttle and Sunday shuttle during WoW weekend
    • World of Wine two-day tickets are $99 per person, so the $199 Weekend Package is a savings of about $10 — plus the added convenience of the friendly shuttle service.
    • Visit TemeculaWines.org/Events or call TVWA at 800.801.9463 to book
WoW + Stay Overnight at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
    • Package offered on Sunday, March 3 only
    • Price: from $289
    • Overnight Stay in Luxury Deluxe Villa
    • Two World of Wine Passport Tickets (Sunday Tickets Only)
    • Complementary Pre-Selected Bottle of South Coast Wine
    • Visit TemeculaWines.org/Events or call TVWA at 800.801.9463 to book
WoW + Stay Overnight at Temecula Creek Inn
  • Package offered on Sunday, March 3 only
  • Price: from $218
  • 1-night stay at Temecula Creek Inn1-day Passport to World of Wine event for two
  • Visit TemeculaWines.org/Events or call TVWA at 800.801.9463 to book

 

Temecula Valley wine country is an idyllic, easily-accessible, year-round wine destination where visitors can experience premium winemaking in a warm, welcoming atmosphere along with fine dining, stunning scenery and exciting events. Temecula Valley is only a 60 – 90 minute drive from all major Southern California cities.

Temecula Valley Wine Country in Southern California

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Wine Country Recipe: New York Steaks with Gorgonzola-Walnut “Butter”

Friday, December 14th, 2012

New York Steaks with Gorgonzola-Walnut “Butter”

…Paired with Cougar Meritage Red Wine

Courtesy of Cougar Vineyard & Winery

Serves 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

4 New York steaks
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the “butter”
8 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon white-wine or regular Worcestershire
2 teaspoons green peppercorns
¼ cup lightly toasted walnut halves
1 ½ tablespoons minced chives
6 drops Tabasco

How to make:

Place steaks in a glass dish. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, vinegar, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Marinate in refrigerator covered for 2 to 3 hours. Remove steaks from marinade when ready to grill.

To make “butter”, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process for about a minute until mixed thoroughly. Can be refrigerated, but plan to serve at room temperature.

Prepare a hot fire and grill steaks for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until cooked to desired doneness. Shortly after turning, slather a mound of Gorgonzola butter on steaks and allow it to melt slightly while the steaks finish cooking.

Serve with couscous and additional Gorgonzola butter.

Enjoy with a nice glass of Cougar Meritage!

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