Steve Thornton, President Thornton Winery

01/23/2010 14:30

 We interviewed Steve Thornton, the president of the Thornton Winery, located in the heart of Temecula Valley. Thornton Winery started in 1988. Steve was born and raised in San Diego and is an avid outdoorsman, spending his time away from the winery driving racecars, surfing, motorcycling, mountain biking and skydiving.



What was the first memory you have of wine?

That’s a simple answer. My first memory of wine is Sangria. I enjoyed the sweet and fruity taste.

What was the first wine that you considered to be good wine?

A Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought it many, many years ago.  I had no idea how good it was going to be.

Do you think it's the taste of a good wine or the experience while drinking the wine that makes it good?  Why?

I think a good wine AND a wonderful experience can be the ultimate experience.  If you’re having a bad time neither one will be good.


How big is your cellar?

I don’t have a personal cellar at home, instead…  I have one at Thornton that is about 10,000 cases

What is your favorite varietal (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)? Why?

 A Nebbiolo from anywhere attracts me like a magnet. There is something elusive and sensual about it. Nebbiolo from the Langhe Hills of Piemonte remains unchallenged of course.  I like the big, dark, tannic, even bitter characteristics that make it so prized by collectors.

What is your favorite region for wine (i.e. Napa Valley, Margaret River, Montelcino)

 Temecula Valley of course. I believe it is a great region to grow grapes, produce wine and have a great time.

 What is your favorite vineyard or brand?

Thornton Winery’s special Syrah block located on our property.  It’s small but mighty, and lovingly tended by our viticulture staff as directed by our winemaker Don Reha.  In my opinion, it produces some of the finest Syrah anywhere.

Do you have a favorite bottle? (varietal, region, year)

 Thornton 2006 Nebbiolo, the flavor is fabulous...but any year of our Nebbiolo is great.


What wine are you saving for a special day? 

I may have a different philosophy than others on that question. The one I buy for that night is for a special day.  Too many great wines to save. Just choose and enjoy the moment.

Where do you buy the majority of your wine? (Retailer, Direct, etc. Feel free to name the store you shop at or the site you buy from)

Now there’s any easy question … Thornton Winery.  I enjoy our wines.  We offer many different types of still and sparkling wines.  I honestly don’t need to look any further.

Have you ever had an organic wine?  Did you like it?

Yes I have had organic wine; I did not experience any difference in the taste.

What is the most you've ever spent on a bottle of wine?

Around $200.00 at a restaurant… but you can get great wine for much less.

What was your favorite wine experience (or one of your top experiences)?


Do you have an embarrassing or funny experience to share?

Let me think about that for a moment. I guess it would be when I went to make a toast… I broke the other person’s glass at Thanksgiving!

What one wine do you recommend for our readers to try?

Thornton Winery Estate Syrah (still wine) or the NV Cuvee Rouge (sparkling wine).

What is an up-and-coming wine (or winery) you think is a good value right now?

In today’s world it’s a buyers market.  Everyone should drink and enjoy the wine  that gives them the  most pleasure.  Thornton Winery has 26 different varieties in a variety of price ranges and profiles, so I think people should come out and see for themselves which one rocks their world.

Did we miss anything?

I’d love it if people would go to to learn more about our winery and download a tasting coupon.  We do fun, engaging food, wine, & music related events year round. Our Café Champagne restaurant is an amazing place for foodies to spend some quality time relaxing amongst the vineyards.