Thornhaven Estate is a private residence founded in 1979 and named after the abundant yellow Star Thistle that first covered the property, located in the hills just north of downtown Vacaville, CA. The kitchen, garden, and first rock walls were built shortly thereafter, and landscaping has continued across the property in the last three decades as the thistle has retreated.
The pond was originally a stock and irrigation impoundment for the area's cattle and fruit orchards. The first fruit orchards were planted here in the 1890s when Vacaville became the fresh fruit capital of the world, supplying the first fruit of the season throughout the country after the advent of refrigerated rail cars.
The orchards have since been re-established, and vineyards were planted in 1980 and later expanded. Thornhaven Estate produces both Cabernet and Petit Sirah estate wine for family and friends, as well as olives, olive oil, and honey. With 80 assorted fruit trees, fresh fruit ranges from June apricots to December persimmons. The summer abundance of zucchini, peppers, onions, artichokes, and tomatoes is at times is overwhelming.
Thornhaven Estate supports a wide variety of wildlife: robins, quail, turkeys, hummingbirds, blue jays, and mockingbirds inhabit the property and, when joined by tree frogs and pond bullfrogs in the evening, produce quite the cacophony. The swimming pool grotto is annually home to families of mud swallows, and the pond nourishes deer, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, and bobcats along with our resident peacock and swans. Turtles and frogs abound along with toad tadpoles, sunfish, and bass, and the occasional mountain lion has also been spotted.
Visitors have plenty of activities to choose from, including tennis, basketball, bocce ball, ping pong, swimming, fishing, lawn games, or just relaxing beside the lake. Hiking the open space above the property leads to a picnic table with a view of the Sacramento Valley to the east, the Sutter Buttes to the north, and Mount Diablo to the south. To the west is Mount Vaca and the Vaca Mountains, with Napa Valley just beyond. In the evening there is an outdoor movie theater, and the onsite amphitheater plays host to occasional speakers, plays, and concerts for up to 400 people.