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Meet Paso Robles wine’s Steve Glossner of Paso Port, Pendray’s

Time:2018-04-16 17:16wine - Red wine life health Click:

Wine interview CA Paso paso robles

On any given day, it’s hard to know which hat Steve Glossner will be wearing.

He could be tinkering with Ethyl, the 500-liter German still where he makes liquor both for his spirits label, Pendray’s Distillery, and his line of port-style wines, PasoPort Wine Co.

He could be down at Steinbeck Vineyards’ new production winery on Paso Robles’ east side, checking on fermentations or blending wines for Steinbeck Vineyards & Winery or Guyomar Wine Cellars.

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Glossner tasting room

PasoPort Wine Co., Per Caso Cellars and Pendray’s Distillery share a tasting room in Templeton.

Photos by Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

He could be out scouring vineyards for promising new grape sources, tending to his own new vineyard property or checking on the few plantings of little-known Portuguese varietal grapes he uses in his newest label, Per Caso Cellars.

But most likely, Glossner is doing little bit of each.

“There’s always something to be done,” he said.

It’s tough to believe Glossner would have it any other way. He sometimes refers to himself as a dinosaur for his allegiance to Old World, old-school winemaking, but he’s forever introducing something new, launching new projects and learning new tricks.

“He’ll never stop,” said his wife and business partner, Lola Glossner.

Glossner Lola

Lola Glossner, Steve Glossner’s wife and business partner, followed her passion for Justin Isosceles to Paso Robles and met her future husband.

A wine-country pioneer

Various pioneers have propelled Paso Robles’ wine industry over the years, but few have been involved in as many trail-blazing ventures as Glossner.

Early in his career, he was hired as winemaker at Justin Vineyards & Winery, also in its early years.

Glossner quickly helped put the Paso Robles winery — and Paso Robles as a whole — on the map by winning a coveted international award, the Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy for best blended red wine, for his 1994 Isosceles.

As Glossner managed a winery that went from producing 7,000 cases each year to 30,000, he also made the base wines that went into the 1997 Isosceles. It was the first Paso Robles offering to make Wine Spectator magazine’s Top 100 wines of the year — coming in at No. 6 in 2000 — further elevating the region’s profile.

Glossner then succeeded John Munch as winemaker at Adelaida Cellars, another of the region’s influential early wineries. “For John, everything was an experiment,” said Glossner, who held that post for a few years.

Glossner port label

PasoPort Wine Co. adorns its labels with images of 1940s-style pin-up girls.

In 2002, Glossner was hired to start the wine program for Halter Ranch Vineyard, creating the new Paso winery’s initial portfolio and developing a sizable and diverse vineyard property.

He’s kicked off winemaking efforts at several other properties — Denner Vineyards and Kiamie Wine Cellars on Paso Robles’ west side, to name just a couple.

“Starting something from scratch is fun,” Glossner said. “Anything is possible.”

Glossner’s early experiences as a winemaker led to a realization: “I’m not a very good employee,” he acknowledges.

Glossner likes to do things the way Glossner likes to do them. He doesn’t use shortcuts and prefers time-honored techniques, releasing wines only when they’re truly ready.

That’s a good strategy for making distinctive, age-worthy wines, but less good for growing a larger-scale winery.

“I wanted to do something on more of a smaller scale than a larger scale, with a more personal investment,” he said.

Adventures in port, spirits and sparkling wine

For the last decade, Glossner has found a more fitting path working as a consulting winemaker for various labels — including a project with Leon Chen, a Taiwanese exporter with a vineyard in Paso Robles — and pursuing his own projects, of which his wife is a central part.

After 17 years in corporate aerospace in the Los Angeles area, Lola Glossner was looking for something new and nurturing a passion for wine. When a potential partnership in a wine business fell through around 2006, she figured she’d work a harvest and got hooked up with her future husband.

“Within three weeks, we both knew,” she said.

Fate runs deeper: The reason she got interested in Paso Robles was a bottle of Justin Isosceles.

“I found out he was the one who made the wine that got me up here,” she said. “It’s like it was meant to be.”

At the time in 2006, no one in Paso Robles had a port brand. So Steve Glossner decided to try his hand at it, using the traditional Portuguese varietals.

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