Color centers in solids are the fundamental constituents of a plethora of applications such as lasers, light-emitting diodes, and sensors, as well as the foundation of advanced quantum information and communication technologies. Their photoluminescence properties are usually studied under Stokes excitation, in which the emitted photons are at a lower energy than the excitation ones. In this work, we explore the opposite anti-Stokes process, where excitation is performed with lower-energy photons. We report that the process is sufficiently efficient to excite even a single quantum system—namely, the germanium-vacancy center in diamond. Consequently, we leverage the temperature-dependent, phonon-assisted mechanism to realize an all-optical nanoscale thermometry scheme that outperforms any homologous optical method used to date. Our results frame a promising approach for exploring fundamental light-matter interactions in isolated quantum systems and harness it toward the realization of practical nanoscale thermometry and sensing.