New Years Eve at Thornton Winery

Photo Courtesy of Thornton Winery

We are so lucky, here in Temecula and the surrounding area, especially when it comes time to celebrate New Year’s Eve. My husband and I love the wineries, so we knew that was where we wanted to spend New Year’s Eve. We agreed on Thornton. It is one of the oldest and highest quality wineries in wine country. The deciding factor, though, was the food. Café Champagne at Thornton Winery is one of our favorite places to eat. I looked up the gala online and discovered there would be a “Roaring 20’s” theme. Not only did that mean a new dress, but it sounded like fun.

It was chilly on New Years, which helped put us in the mood. The party was held in a room that was once a barrel room. It had a rustic quality that contributed to the ‘20’s feel. Patio heaters kept everyone cozy. Many women embraced the ‘20’s theme and dressed like flappers. There were ropes of pearls everywhere. I didn’t have much time to look around and enjoy the originality though, because the tray passed hors’ d oeuvres arrived at our table. The smoked salmon was very flavorful and had good delicate texture. Following the salmon were dainty potato cups, the size of a thimble. They were filled with a crème fraiche and caviar topping. The standout among the appetizers was, without a doubt, the fried risotto and wild mushroom balls. The outside was so crunchy it almost tasted candied, and the interior was creamy and savory. I could have happily made a meal out of them. The appetizers were served with Thornton’s specialty, a 1999 Brut reserve champagne. It was bone dry, with the tiny bubbles indicative of a wine made in the traditional French Medthode Champenoise. It was delightful.

The first course was a Lobster Napoleon with a vanilla saffron sauce served with Thornon’s 2007 Viognier. The sweetness of the sauce accented the sweetness of the lobster nicely. A micro-greens salad with tomato tarragon jelly cut the richness of the dish. The main dish was Tournedos of Beef and Potatoes Anna, served with Thorntons 2007 Cabernet-Merlot. The cuts of aged beef were very tender. The Potatoes Anna were delicious. They had an interesting texture, more like mashed potatoes, and so much flavor.

Photo Courtesy of Thornton Winery

The crowning jewel was the Chocolate Decadence torte, served with a 2006 late harvest Zinfandel. The torte was a chocolate mousse layered over a lemon mousse, and drenched in thick shiny chocolate ganache.

After dinner, the band, Faultline, performed music. The female lead singer had a great voice. She raised the energy level as soon as she started to sing. The dance floor was packed as soon as they started playing a very danceable mix of ‘70’s R and B and dance music.

There is something interesting and optimistic about sharing New Year’s Eve with strangers. It starts the year with the feeling that anything could happen. It gives a sense of community. What could be a better way to start the a new year? As we toasted the New Year, with delicious champagne, and a kiss, I felt more optimistic than I have in years. Here’s to 2010 being a year of community and optimism.

For more information about Thornton Winery, please visit their website at

Article By: Bethany Rogers

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