Thorn Hill Vineyards doesn’t just make and sell wine; its business model from the beginning has been designed to bring people together.
Since opening in Manheim Township in 2011, the wine company, which grows and produces wine in California to sell in Lancaster County, has focused on both events and wine.
To expand on this focus, Thorn Hill is increasing the size of its retail space to make more room for its customers.
“Wine is a social beverage — perhaps the ultimate social beverage — and we’ve learned that our customers love to share their passions for wine with us and each other,” said Amy Thorn, winemaker and co-owner of Thorn Hill Vineyards with her husband Jack Thorn.
California-inspired tasting room
Thorn Hill is now leasing the vacated Subway restaurant next to its store at 1945 Fruitville Pike, doubling its current space of 1,600 square feet.
West Hempfield Township-based Socius Construction has been working on the project for several months.
Updates include building walls, painting, and turning the back portion of the unit into a wine cooler.
According to Amy Thorn, all of Thorn Hill’s wine is kept at 57 degrees throughout the entire process – from barrels to the warehouse, and then as it’s being shipped to Pennsylvania. Now, it will be stored here at 57 degrees, which is the best temperature for storage.
Another important piece to the new space – old wine barrels.
An earthquake at the California winery in 2014 damaged some of the barrels. So, what better way to use them than for decoration, Amy Thorn said.
A stone wall is being built, and barrel heads are inserted into it. Other barrels will be used as coffee tables.
“They’re the barrels that survived the earthquake,” Amy Thorn said.
She didn’t have a final total on the cost of ongoing construction.
The tasting room will also serve as an art gallery. The first featured artist will be Margaret Thorn of Lititz, no relation to the Thorns.
“Wine is my form of art as a winemaker, but it’s really wonderful to use Thorn Hill as a meeting place for artists to gather,” Amy Thorn said.
The Thorns’ hope the new space will be rented for private events such as weddings, bridal showers or office parties.
A limited license
Thorn Hill is the first California winery to have a tasting room open in Pennsylvania.
Although the Thorns make their wine in California, they have long ties to Lancaster County, which is why they chose to sell their wine here.
The winery opened its first tasting room in Pennsylvania in 2011.
This was only possible because in March 2007, Thorn Hill obtained a Pennsylvania Limited Winery License. It allows wineries producing less than 200,000 gallons a year to sell their wares outside the state store system, and up to four stores are permitted.
Since opening here, Thorn Hill has opened additional locations in northern California along with its two wineries.
Amy Thorn described the business as a family affair. Her daughter manages the tasting room in Lancaster, and her son handles operations on the west coast.
Events for the new space include an opening party on Feb. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations are requested.
The winery also hosts monthly trivia nights, Friday night live jazz performances and women-only ‘wild women of wine’ nights.