We know that the right food paired with the right wine make beautiful music together. But when you add actual music to that equation, well… now we’re talking about a symphony of sights, sounds, aromas and flavors — a tremendous sensory experience.
That’s why, each summer, thousands of people flock to the Thornton Winery in Temecula, Calif. — surrounded, roughly, by San Diego, Orange County, the Inland Empire and the Pacific Ocean — for Thornton’s Champagne Jazz Series.
Concert-goers may purchase a ticket just for the show, then buy their food and drinks a la carte. Or, they may opt for the Gourmet Supper Package, and nosh on a three-course meal as the evening’s performers prepare to take the stage.
Three stars of the smooth jazz genre — Richard Elliot, Peter White and Euge Groove — performed under the banner of “Jazz Attack” on May 30, and will return for an encore concert to conclude the 2015 season on October 18.
That May evening, the supper package’s first course was a Jazz Salad, with mixed greens, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, Midnight Moon cheese and Brut Rosé vinaigrette.
The main course was a perfectly cooked and juicy Lemon Pepper Breast of Chicken, with rustic mashed potatoes, garden vegetables and rosemary jus.
Dessert was Hazelnut Truffle, with hazelnut gelato and a chocolate truffle.
Wine is not included with the supper package, but it is available. Which brings up our only quibble with the experience: Wine can be purchased strictly by the bottle, not by the glass. For some couples, a full bottle may be too much to consume at one sitting. But that’s a minor complaint about an otherwise highly enjoyable convergence of food and music.
Just up the street from Thornton, you’ll find the perfect place to relax before a concert, and to unwind and get a good night’s sleep afterward. The owners of the Churon Winery and the Inn at Churon Winery like to describe their property as “where a bit of France and rolling vineyard hills of Temecula wine country meet.”
That’s an apt description. As you wind your way up the grapevine-lined entrance to the Chateau and Winery, the stately 40-foot-high Grand Lobby Rotunda comes into view. The tasting room is located on a lower level, down a winding staircase, and is where guests of the inn enjoy their evening wine hour.
The inn has 19 large vineyard-view rooms, priced from $179.95 to $295 per night; three over-sized luxury suites, priced from $250 to $395 per night; and two deluxe suites, priced from $275 to $450 per night.
Each room features a gas-burning fireplace (three of them in the deluxe suites), French doors opening onto a private terrace or balcony, and a king or double queen beds with down blanket bedding. In addition to the evening wine hour, guests awake to a gourmet breakfast.
Here’s a useful strategy for Thornton concert-goers staying at The Inn at Churon: Arrive around 3 p.m., check in, and settle into your room. When the wine hour begins (the time may vary by day of the week), head downstairs and sample the fine wines made at the estate. The pours are generous, so you may need to pour out some of the wine if you’re driving.
Then at around 6:30, hop in the car and drive the short distance to Thornton. If you’ve purchased the Gourmet Supper Package, you’ll be directed to a parking area that’s adjacent to the entrance for table seating. A reserved table — which you’ll share with another couple — will be waiting for you, and the food will begin to be brought out in just a few minutes.
And not long thereafter, the music… and the magic… will begin.
• For the rest of this year’s Champagne Jazz Series schedule, click here. For The Inn at Churon Winery reservation information, call 951-694-9070.