Megan & Ryan Glaab
Your avant-garde California dream team
- Ryan and Megan aren’t your typical Wine Country Cabernet duo. They’re after the best-kept secrets in the Valley — seeking old heritage vineyards with rare, underrated Italian grapes like Vermentino and Aglianico. A bit rebellious? Maybe. Absolutely worth it? Definitely.
- And they have the expertise to do it with combined experience at Torbreck, Sine Qua Non, Marcassin, Pax, Peay and their own brand, RYME Cellars. They’ve dreamed of expanding with another, aptly named Verse, to take on even more opportunities to work with unique fruit from the best growers.
- Thanks to Angel support and the COVID Relief Fund, Megan and Ryan were able to keep their operations going in 2020 and start their next Verse to make the wines they truly love and share their unique vision with the world.
Megan & Ryan Glaab's Story
Megan and Ryan Glaab have been lauded as California’s most innovative young winemaking team. In a landscape predominantly planted with well-known grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot noir, it’s difficult to find vineyards growing lesser-known varieties, but the Glaabs have never been ones to shy away from hard work. The Glaabs love any chance to “expand the consumer perception of what good California wine is,” and see their innovative winemaking as an opportunity for education and storytelling. Even more so over a glass from their cellar — their unique wines inspire plenty of conversation.
“We aren’t afraid of a ‘weird project’ and aren’t afraid of sweet wines, sparkling, sherry, using amphora, or doing a little skin maceration. Name it, and we’ve probably tried it.”
Finding the Passion
Megan and Ryan both found their love for winemaking through food. Megan’s father was a successful chef, and she started considering a degree in enology when she was 15, while serving at her family restaurant. Armed with the insight that only discovering your passion at a ridiculously young age will give you, she found an enology program at the University of Adelaide. To her mother’s dismay, she wanted to study winemaking on the other side of the world.
“When I found Adelaide, my dad was super supportive. My mom was hesitant because she was certain I’d fall in love with someone in Australia and never come back, so her condition was ‘do NOT fall in love!’ But I did.”
Ryan’s love of food was unique in his family ? he sought out hole-in-the-wall restaurants and unique flavors whenever he was allowed to choose, which was usually a birthday dinner. While pursuing a degree in medical bioengineering, he found part time jobs in restaurants. It only took a short while for him to become enamoured with the science of wine and beer. He transferred to Fresno State and graduated with a degree in enology and a desire to travel the world, and he knew just where to start.
Finding Each Other
After Ryan’s graduation and prior to Megan’s senior thesis, both landed harvest jobs at the fashionable Torbreck winery in Australia's Barossa Valley. In Torbreck’s cellar, they made Rhône-inspired wines and plans to see the world together, by hopping hemispheres to work two harvests a year. It was the romantic flying winemaker life that both had dreamed of while cramming for chemistry and geography tests in school. While waiting for Megan to finish her senior thesis, Ryan went back to California to spend a season working with Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non. Joining the team was a rare opportunity to help craft the most creative and sought-after wines in the state.
A year later, they met in Sonoma County and continued working with Rhône varieties. Megan found a spot at Peay, and down the road Ryan worked at PAX. The pair was excited to kick off their world winemaking tour with something close to home, focusing on varieties that piqued their interest, and operating at a scale that was hyper-focused on quality. Everything was going according to plan, except Megan and Ryan were both way too wonderful to work with. They ended up being offered full-time positions with Peay and PAX, cut their travel plans short, and began plans for their own wine brand.
In 2007, for the inaugural vintage of RYME Cellars, the Glaabs made fifty cases of Aglianico — a dense rarely planted outside of Southern Italy.
“We love idiosyncratic wines, and Algianico is one we still focus on at RYME. It’s a grape that is aromatic, spicy, massive and brooding. It has high tannin, and ages forever! One day, we would love to see hundreds of thousands of people drinking it.”
Megan and Ryan focused on small lots of obscure Italian grapes as their brand and reputation grew. Their portfolio soon contained two Vermentinos, Ribolla Gialla, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Aglianico, Chardonnay, and Pinot noir. Sharing winery space with some of their closest friends who also had wine brands, and receiving lots of press, the Glaabs were living the dream!
Finding Naked Wines
When they had found the comfortable limit to how much wine they could produce for RYME, they had to pass up opportunities to work with excellent growers and unique fruit. They dreamed up the brand Verse as a way to expand their offerings, but then COVID hit and their tasting room had to shut its doors, brutally impacting sales.
Through a friend, they found the COVID Relief Fund. After working with Naked Wines to keep RYME operating smoothly during a tough time, they wanted to keep the relationship going. With Angel support, Megan and Ryan were able to start an additional brand, Verse, and continue exploring the vineyards of Northern California. To say thanks, the Glaabs are bringing Angels wines that would otherwise only be found at a tiny tasting room in Forstville.