Four Lanterns Winery begins with its name. When Steve and Jackie Gleason relocated from Southern California to Paso Robles a little more than a year ago, they changed their family’s entire lifestyle, but not their identity— the Gleasons are a family who works together and seeks new and interesting experiences.
The four lanterns are Steve and Jackie’s four daughters, Sarah, 21; Christina, 19; Janet, 17; and Sage, 13.
“They are the lights of our lives,” said Jackie, a former physical therapist who now works with her husband, Steve, a former financier, to run Four Lanterns. Steve said he was successful in his former work but didn’t want to grow old there.
“I had run my course in my career and wanted to do something else,” he said.
The Gleasons took over their vineyard property in the summer of 2013 with harvest staring them in the face.
“We decided to go ahead and make wine that year, hired Amy Butler as our winemaker, and crushed at Grey Wolf,” Steve said. “I felt that making a small amount of wine —500 cases in 2014 — would help us jump in with both feet.”
Two whites and a rose were submitted to the California Mid State Fair in 2014 and all won silvers straight out of the gate. The whites were the picpoul and vognier. The rose is made from syrah grapes.
That was an affirming beginning for the family who relocated to the Paso region in the summer of 2014. Prior to purchasing their vineyard, the couple had been looking at beach properties down south, but, as they tell the story, Jackie and Steve couldn’t agree on any of the properties they viewed.
Around the same time, they were considering property in the Paso Robles region when they got a call that what would become Four Lanterns was available. Steve took the drive north — about four and a half hours on the road — and immediately fell in love. He called his wife and said, “I want to buy this place,” to which she answered, “OK,” sight unseen.
Asked why she agreed to the purchase, Jackie said, “I told him, ‘You know what? You have such excitement in your voice. Let’s buy it.’”
Steve commuted each week for the first year until he and his family could make the move. Though production is small, the Gleasons have big plans for their property, which, they say, is a place for lovers of wine and the outdoors to congregate.
Asked if Four Lanterns is a boutique winery, Steve said laughing, “We’re pre-boutique. We produce 700 cases a year right now.”
Before Four Lanterns, the property was Sycamore Farms Natural Herb Farm and Vineyard and now focuses on the grapes and outdoor community. Where herbs once grew, there will be a stage — once permits are secured — to provide the outdoor space with live music and magnificent views. Behind the tasting room, there will be a production facility.
“We’ll begin construction in the fall,” Steve said. “We’ll have the production facility and the stage that looks across the lawn, an outdoor bar and gardens. It’ll be fun.”
Jackie said the community of the Paso Robles area has stunned her and her family after just half a year in the region. “We went out Friday, and we couldn’t believe how many people we knew,” she said. “This is such a great community.”
Added Steve, “The magic of this experience is how great the wines are and all these wonderful moments associated with wine. We want Four Lanterns to do that for people, to bring them these wonderful moments, to build a community bond. We want our wines to be the kind that people are excited to drink.”
The Gleason’s 22 acres of vines consist of “the flats” along Highway 46 and “the terraces” that are South of the flats and reach up and over the large hill on their property. The tasting barn is on the East side of the flats. The property is managed by Roberts’ Vineyard Services with onsite managers, Caitlyn Pierini and Armando Ortiz.
The Four Lanterns tasting room sits behind a farm house just inside the entrance to the property. Inside the tasting room, the walls are covered in art, including three large canvases that contain the work of painter Roderick Reed of Laguna Beach, a family friend. Carol Timson Ball, from Templeton, also shows her work at the property. Carol’s canvases focus on local points of interest.
The room contains Four Lantern wines and a few other items dear to foodies and wine connoisseurs. Among them are Smith and Truslow spices, a business run by Steve’s sister, Jean Gleason. The spices aren’t ground until an order is placed, making them ultra fresh.
Wines served in the tasting room are a dry, French style rose; picpoul blanc; viognier; a grenache-syrah blend that is two-thirds grenache; and a spicy syrah.
“It’s romantic to have a winery, but it’s a lot of work,” Steve said. “I’m having a great time.”
Four Lanterns Winery is located at 2485 West Hwy 46 in Paso Robles. For more information, go to www.fourlanternswinery.com or call (949) 300-5437.
-By Paula McCambridge