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The jazz concert season returns to Thornton Winery in Temecula. Courtesy photos
Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Jazz, wine & food at Thornton Winery champagne concerts

From now through Saturday Oct. 13, Thornton Winery in Temecula will have the lights lit on 18 major jazz music concerts on most weekends. Thornton sparkles and shines in the front courtyard with concert-style intimate seating for general admission, and gourmet supper packages with reserved tables under a covered patio. Packages are prepared by the award-winning Café Champagne, available during each performance. 

Jazz artist Brian Culbertson performs June 2.

Any way you measure it, Thornton Winery is Temecula Wine Country’s premier wine, food and music experience. The jazz artists are world renowned. The lineup speaks for itself: Brian Culbertson performs June 2 with his Colors of Love Tour. Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin groove on June 10. Average White Band and the Family Stone rock out on June 16. Acoustic Alchemy with Keiko Matsui present smooth jazz June 23. Chris Isaak sings on July 14. Michael McDonald belts out his favorite songs July 15. The Rippingtons, David Benoit and Marc Antoine share the stage Aug. 4. 

The Robert Cray Band plays Aug. 5. The world’s most popular trumpet man Chris Botti returns Aug. 11. Norman Brown & Bobby Caldwell stop at Thornton with their Love & Soul Tour Aug. 18. The great George Benson plays favorites Aug. 25. The Jeffrey Osborne Show performs Sept. 8. 

Dave Koz & Friends will bring their Summer Horns to Thornton for a two-night stand Sept. 16 and Sept. 17. Special guest concert on Sept. 23. The combo of guitar player Peter White and saxman Eugie Groove entertains on Sept. 29. Mindi Abair & the Bone Shakers Peet Project shakes it up Oct. 7, and special return guest lights it up on Oct. 13. 

Most Saturday concerts start at 7 p.m., the Sunday concerts begin at 4 p.m. Pricing and all other details of the 2018 Thornton Champagne Jazz concerts can be checked out at or call (951) 699-0099.

David Vergari is the winemaker at Thornton, having come to the winery some time ago with his distinct knowledge of Mediterranean style red wines. When I found out that one of his current 2014 releases was an estate grown Nebbiolo, I broke out in applause for his unique accomplishment. Turns out, it was not only my favorite of the group, John Thornton, the beloved owner of the winery, loves it too ($52). The grape sources from Piedmont, in Italy. It’s used in such legendary wines as Barolo and Barbaresco. This is in keeping with the Temecula trend to southern European wines from such countries as Italy, Spain and southern France. At Thornton, go for the music and the food, but don’t forget to enjoy those fine wines.


• A Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet is planned for the Shores Restaurant in La Jolla Sun. morning May 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., designed by Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Percy Oani. A panoramic view of La Jolla Cove awaits the occasion. Farmers Market appetizers, fish delicacies, bone-in ham and a variety of desserts are just a few features. Cost is $68. RSVP at (858) 456-0600 or

• Sal Ercolano’s Seasalt Seafood Bistro in Del Mar is presenting the Robert Craig Winery at 6 p.m. May 17. This stunning mountain wine from the Napa Valley includes their award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon along with Zinfandel and Chardonnay, pairing with chef Hilario’s entrees.  Call (858) 755-7100 for this event. Cost is $75 each for this memorable event.

• Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has its next seminar, a “Pure Blind” Global Wine Class from 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 18 at $49 per guest. You will blind taste six varietals of wine and learn about their characteristics and key growing areas. Variety of appetizers included. Contact Meritage for an RSVP at (760) 479-2500 or

Reach Frank Mangio at [email protected]