After two months of ongoing technical difficulties the website seems to have stabilized. We’ll honor this event by reviewing two new wineries we discovered on our July, 2015 trip to Paso Robles: Glunz Family Winery and Broken Earth Winery. Both are producing excellent wines at prices that make them bargains. Naturally, each is making a pinot noir that is very quaffable.
Glunz Family Winery
[pullquote]as a deliveryman with Wacker & Birk, a Chicago brewery owned by prominent civic leader and businessman Charles H. Wacker. He worked hard, learned all he could about the brewery business and saved his wages to begin his own company.[/pullquote]
The Glunz family has quite a history. The family’s progenitor, Louis Glunz I, arrived in Chicago from Germany in 1879. He found work →
For those unfamiliar with Chicago, one of the major thoroughfares is Wacker Drive.
The Wacker family loaned Mr. Glunz money to start his brewery. Opening in 1888, he made and sold wine, beer and spirits. He bought a tavern next to his brewery and sold his own beer there.
Fast forward to 1992.
Helen and Joseph’s children, now the fourth generation of the Glunz family, opened their winery specializing in small batched fortified wines. As a family policy, any family member looking to enter into the family business must have three years of work experience on the outside. As a result of this, Joe Glunz Jr. after spending three years in Napa Valley, came home and to get the winery up and running in Grayslake, Illinois.
That’s right. The family has been making wine in Illinois for over a century. Looking to expand in 2010, they acquired 20 acres in Paso Robles in 2013. The tasting room opened in October, 2014. Today California is their main wine production location. But they still have a tasting room in Illinois. If you’re nearby, visit 888 E. Belvidere Rd. Suite#107, Grayslake, IL, 60030. Phone (847) 548-9463. For more information visit the “Contact” section of the winery’s website.
In keeping with their rich family history, each Glunz wine carries the nickname of a family member. Sometimes these are entertaining (Whisper, Bunzer). Others are somewhat mysterious (Mrs. Murphy). We’ll include the full name of each wine, providing an explanation for those we managed to note during our visit.
Gus’ 2013 Grenache Blanc Paso Robles ($18) Aromas of green apple and orange followed by bright citrus on the palate. A bargain from an unusual grape.
Mrs. Murphy’s 2013 Viognier ($18) gets a split opinion. There was too much honey for me, but Norma thought there was a nice acid balance. Honeysuckle and ripe apricot aromas followed with a palate of apricot and citrus. Mrs. Murphy is the nickname of one of the Glunz sisters. “She looks Irish.”
Whispers 2013 Pinot Noir ($22, serious bargain) is sourced from various Central Coast vineyards. Aromas of bing cherries and rose petals lead to more cherries and spice on the palate. Whisper is the nickname given to Billy, one of the brothers.
Bunzer’s Blend 2012 Westside Zinfandel ($20) is very approachable, with just a hint of spice on the finish. The website description includes the word “powerhouse.” Welcome to California, folks. This zinfandel is absolutely luscious and is far from overpowering.
Glunz’s 2013 Reserve Zinfandel 2013 ($28) is estate grown on their northside vineyard. As you would expect, this is bigger than Bunzer’s, with more body and more spice. Aromas and flavors of dark black cherry with a hint of chocolate and just a bit of toasty oak on the finish.
The 2012 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) features scents of cherry, cola and a touch of cedar. There is also just a hint of green pepper (methoxypyrazine). Flavors of dark fruit with well integrated tannins lead to a nice finish. Cab lovers take note: this, too, is a major bargain.
Their 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) includes about 10 percent cabernet franc. This is for people willing to wait. Right now it’s tannic with a good slug of oak. And, like the previous cab, there’s a touch of methoxypyrazine. The website recommends aging 10-15 years. We’re not that patient.
Glunz’s 2012 B the B Syrah ($20) is also tannic, big, and needs a few years in the bottle.
A Sangria Surprise
Glunz also makes two De la Costa sangrias, one white and the other red. This is not your parents’ sangria. It’s made like true wine with aroma, flavor and complexity. Both are $10.50 per bottle.
The red is blueberries on the nose and palate. There is a nice acid to balance the traditional sweetness. The white is mostly sauvignon blanc. It is bursting with ripe citrus flavors and a bit of sweetness to balance it out.
Not bad for folks from Illinois! Actually, quite a bit better than at least 2/3 of Paso wineries.
Broken Earth Winery
[pullquote]Rancho Tierra Rejada, Spanish for “land of worked earth,” is the original name of the 2,500 acre Paso Robles ranch that is now home to the vineyards of Broken Earth Winery.[/pullquote]
Broken Earth opened on June 16, 2011. The winery takes its name from →
The winery has six different labels, differentiated in various ways. This is complicated by the Broken Earth label having four sub-labels: Reserve, Estate, Vineyard Select, and Limited Release.
- Quadrant (all priced at $16) includes two red blends and one white blend. The reds are Platinum (Bordeaux-style) and Copper (Rhône-style). Gold is the white blend including chardonnay, viognier, pinot gris, and albariño.
- PULL (all priced at $18) includes a chardonnay, a merlot, a cabernet sauvignon, a cabernet sauvignon-merlot blend, and a Rhône-style blend.
- Diablo (all priced at $18) has a petite sirah (Negro), a rosé (Rosado), and a viognier (Blanco).
- There are three fortified wines of which the Grenache Angelica “Vin De Vie” rosé ($24) in a unique package.
- Shimmin Canyon features a lone cabernet sauvignon ($24).
As we mentioned earlier, the Broken Earth label includes four sub-labels:
- Reserve wines feature two cabernet sauvignons ($89 and $48), a chardonnay ($28), and a petit verdot ($48).
- Estate wines include a merlot (sold out), a cabernet sauvignon ($22), a petit verdot ($22), and a chardonnay (sold out).
- Vineyard Select has a pinot noir (sold out) and a zinfandel ($26).
- Limited Release wines offer a tempranillo ($32), a petite sirah ($28), a grenache blanc (sold out), an albariño ($24), and a grenache ($28).
No, we didn’t try to taste them all.
A Digression on Economics
One of the major findings of behavioral economics is that if you offer people too many choices, some potential buyers will simply refuse to choose, buying nothing at all. We have no idea whether Broken Earth has reached this point. But the list above is awfully long with overlapping varietals and inconsistent pricing.
A second bit of advice: keep the website up to date. My tasting notes include a viognier that is nowhere to be found. And if you don’t have anything to say about a topic, don’t put the link on the site. There are quite a few links in the Trade and Media area that are either dead or lead to blank pages.
Broken Earth’s 2013 Estate chardonnay was just released. Citrus lemon orange aromas, with a hint of viognier. Fruity and pleasant on the palate.
The Diablo label offered a 2012 Bianco ($18). If you want to know what this wine is like, head over to Trader Joe’s and pick up a bottle of their Honeymoon viognier. White peach and honeysuckle followed by apricot and tangerine on the palate.
Broken Earth’s Limited Release selection was a 2013 albariño ($24). This is a very nice fruit forward, California style representative of an increasingly-popular grape.
Glunz Winery is worth a visit to Paso Robles all by itself. And Broken Earth is just 2.8 miles west, so stop in there, too. The Broken Earth tasting room is worth the visit all by itself.