A salute to owners of Thornton Winery in Temecula

John and Sally Thornton, owners of Thornton Winery in Temecula with their son Steve, recently added three more awards to their decades-long accomplishments in wine and hospitality. The Southern California Restaurant Writers bestowed their Golden Bacchus Wine Award and Golden Five Star Sceptre Award to the winery’s Café Champagne after a yearlong evaluation from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Both are the organization’s highest awards in their category.
Kudos to Café Champagne’s top chef, Steve Pickell, who has guided its success for more than 13 years. He saluted the Thornton’s “contribution to the culinary vision with their expertise, dedication, talent and integrity.”
The Thorntons were also honored as Humanitarians of the Year due to the constant and major giving to community charities. Their name is on one of the largest medical centers in San Diego. Thornton Winery has a 20-year legacy of winemaking that has brought it world acclaim, especially in blending “Methode Champenoise” Sparkling Wine/Champagne, which created worldwide excitement for its freshness and bursts of flavor as an ideal celebratory drink, best expressed by the Brut Reserve series.
The distinguished old world look of the property displays elegant French influence with an overlook of the pristine vineyards that bear the estate fruit of Thornton. Their champagne jazz series is in full bloom and the lineup reads like a who’s who of talent. Yet the best part of this success story is the work of winemaker Don Reha and his movement into Mediterranean style red wines since his arrival in 2003. Latest release names to know are: 2005 Viognier, 2006 Nebbiolo, 2005 Estate Bottled Syrah and the 2006 Late Harvest Zinfandel.
You can now pick up a 30 percent discount on any case purchase with free shipping. Check out this short term offer by calling (951) 699-0099 or visiting thorntonwine.com.
More on Temecula Valley wines …
Awards keep coming in for the wines of Temecula Wine Country. Examples:
— Double Gold and Chairman’s Award at the ’09 Riverside Wine competition for Maurice Car’rie’s 2008 Sara Bella Blush, a white Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery also got Silver for their ’08 Chenin Blanc and ’08 Riesling. See more at mauricecarriewinery.com.
— La Cereza picked up eight medals at the same competition, including a gold for its “Girlfriends” white blend. Visit lacerezawinery.com.
— Best of Class at the West Coast Wine Competition in Santa Rosa went to Keyways Winery for its ’08 Chenin Blanc and the ’08 White Blend Santa Teresa. See more at www.keywayswine.com.
— I was privileged to get an initial release taste of the new Wilson Creek ’07 Viognier, a varietal favorite of mine. It is right up there with the best of the best for this Rhone Valley grape varietal. Brilliantly crafted by winemaker Etienne Cowper, this tropically fruited, exotic wine should not be missed by fans of a summer wine that pops. Bursting with flavor. Check it out at www.wilsoncreekwinery.com.
— Two Best of Class emerged from the Monterey and Pacific Rim competition … Briar Rose with its ’04 Cabernet Sauvignon and South Coast Winery with its ’07 Riesling. See www.briarrosewinery.com and www.wineresort.com for details.
Wine Bytes
— Four San Diego wineries have banded together for a “Passport to a Taste of San Diego.” For just $20, you can visit Hacienda de las Rosas, Orfila, Belle Marie and Bernardo Winery, each with a full wine tasting experience. Go to any of the wineries to purchase. Use until Labor Day in September.
— Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has a Rhone Valley wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. May 29 and a Stars of Spain tasting from 6 to 8 p.m. June 5. Call (760) 479-2500 for cost and wines.
— The Rotary Club presents the annual Encinitas Wine Festival from 5 to 8 p.m. June 6 at Quail Botanical Gardens. Sample fine wines and beverages from around the world plus dishes and desserts from the finest restaurants in Encinitas. The event benefits local charities. Three ticket options from $100. Visit www.encinitaswinefestival.com for details.
— Up in Napa, the Vintners Association of 350 members brings you Auction Napa Valley from June 4 to June 7. Lots of ways to have a unique and fun time with tastings, auctions and dinners. Look at www.napavintners.com, or call (707) 968-4209 for details.
— The Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival takes off June 5 to June 7 at Lake Skinner in the Winchester area. Mass balloon ascension begins at 6 a.m. June 6. Twenty wineries in Temecula will be pouring. Two-day passes for $30. Call (951) 676-6713 for details.

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