All paths lead to Four Lanterns Winery
Find great wines at this welcoming, family-owned boutique winery
When they took a chance on a parcel of property situated along the desirable westside of Highway 46 in Paso Robles, Steve and Jackie Gleason hoped to harvest a lifestyle they could share with their four daughters. Now, nearly five years since starting Four Lanterns Winery, a family owned and operated boutique winery, they are celebrating their success.
“We love this place, and the people who come out to our small winery love this place,” Steve said. “When you visit Four Lanterns, you experience a sense of home, a sense of belonging – it’s a combination of a great place, great wine, and great people.”
The Big Picture
Steve’s previous career in finance in Southern California came with lots of travel and intense pressure; he was quickly approaching burn-out. He and Jackie always loved the Paso Robles wine region, visiting Steve’s older brother, a SLO County resident, often. When a friend and local realtor advised the property where Four Lanterns is now situated was for sale, Steve drove up to check it out. He could see the potential and called Jackie right away.
“When Steve told me about the property, I hadn’t heard him that excited about something in a long time,” Jackie said. “There was such passion in his voice and I just couldn’t ignore it. When he said we’d have to move up here, I told him I thought that would be a good thing.”
Steve adds, “Well, that’s what she was thinking. But what Jackie actually said was, ‘Go ahead and buy it!’ I was shocked, really, because moving forward with this would mean relocating, changing our lives, and quitting my job.”
After one year of Steve commuting back and forth, the entire Gleason family made the move to Paso Robles and have not looked back. Originally from the East Coast, and having lived in the Chicago area and Southern CA, they have fully embraced their new lifestyle and are thrilled to be living and working in the region.
“This place just really connected with us,” Jackie said. “When Steve gets started on something, he goes into it with such passion and gives 1,000 percent. He is really good at seeing the big picture and it’s been exciting to have this property and business that we can work alongside one another.”
Family is Everything
Jackie said the name Four Lanterns was easy to choose because their girls – Sarah, Christina, Janet, and Sage – are “the lights of our lives”. There’s a true sense of family at the winery – Steve is the winemaker and, among other tasks such as helping in the tasting room, the girls help design and create the wine labels.
“We have a good partnership,” Jackie said. “Steve manages the production side of the business and I oversee the tasting room, plan events, and hire staff. Our older daughters help whenever possible, and the rest of our wonderful staff members help ensure visitors to Four Lanterns feel that sense of being part of our family when they are here.”
His first few years in the wine industry, Steve was mentored by several vineyard managers and winemakers in the region. He studied, learned from the best and, with the 2017 harvest, took over the reins of winemaker at Four Lanterns.
“Everything has just evolved,” Steve said. “I like learning, and I believe you learn from your mistakes, so we started out small and learn as we go. Right from the word go, even with other winemakers, it was understood we were making wine in our style, to our palate. We knew exactly what we wanted because this place should reflect our personality, passions, and tastes; that’s what you should experience when you buy wines from a small winery.”
Estate-grown and Produced Wines
An exciting addition to Four Lanterns is situated directly behind the tasting room – a new building that houses a barrel room, tank room, and crush pad. Built to complement the nearby barn, it’s home to start-of-the-art equipment including wine press, destemmer, and tanks, with the roof housing solar panels. This on-site production facility has given the Gleasons more control over their product of estate-grown and produced wines.
The Four Lanterns property is situated on 35 acres, with 27 planted including seven acres of Viognier, four of Syrah, and smaller lots of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Graciano, Picpoul Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Ugni Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. The Gleason’s nearby home property consists of 20 acres, with 17 planted including 10 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller lots of Merlot, Tempranillo, Petite Verdot, and Semillon. Since their first harvest, Steve and Jackie continue to add more wines to their tasting menu, including Rhone style varietals and blends, and Bordeaux style varietals and blends.
“We have a lot of cool grapes to play with,” Steve said, “and the smaller lots go into most of our blends. When we first opened, we had five wines. Now we have about 12. I like trying something new and making new wines; it’s fun for us and fun for our customers.”
Steve is not a creature of habit, according to Jackie, and he’s known to push the envelope, try different blends, and question if things are being done the best way. On the creative side, he has added some different styles of wines – some by accident and some on purpose – which have become favorites of the Four Lanterns customers. The unfiltered Viognier, for instance, was unplanned.
“Initially, the unfiltered Viognier was an accident that happened in 2014, and we thought we were going to dump it all,” Steve said. “We had some stored in the case good rooms, someone wanted to try it and, next thing we know, everyone loved it. We sold out pretty quickly and, two years later, we had to figure out how to make it on purpose!”
With a wine style described as European, the Gleasons set out from the beginning to make wines that compliment, not overpower foods.
“There is a market for people who want those big powerful wines, but that’s not our style,” Steve said. “Our motto – Wine we like for people we like! – says it all. We’re not making wines to fit the marketplace, we are making wines we believe in and we really like. It’s that simple and that true.”
For the latest announcements, updates, and special events including the popular Summer Concert Series, follow Four Lanterns Winery on Facebook and Instagram. The Four Lanterns Wine Club has the option for 3, 6 or12 bottle club. Member perks include complimentary tastings, discounts on bottle purchases, first choice on limited selection wines, release parties, and discounted fees on the Little Yellow Vineyard vacation home.
Four Lanterns Winery, located at 2485 West Highway 46 in Paso Robles, is family friendly and dog-friendly. Tasting room open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May to September; Thursday through Monday from October to April; advanced notice for parties of eight or more is appreciated. For more information, call (805) 226-5955 or see fourlanternswinery.com.