Three decades ago, the California Central Coast had yet to emerge as one of North America’s world-class winegrowing regions. With little history or viticultural precedent, planting on the Central Coast was a gamble. One of an early handful of pioneers, Jerry Lohr was among the first to realize the vast, untapped potential of this now-acclaimed region with the establishment of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines.
In the late 1960s, Jerry began an extensive investigation of California grape growing regions while searching for the ideal location for a vineyard. Raised on a South Dakota farm, his agricultural roots armed him with an innate sense for the intricacies of climate, soil quality and location. His research and instincts led him to the Central Coast, a unique location with one of the longest growing seasons in all of California. Selecting the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County for his first vineyard, Jerry planted his original 280 acres of varietal grapes in 1972 and 1973, and unveiled his San Jose winery in 1974.
Borrowing a lesson from the French— that great Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon excel in very different growing conditions—Jerry began planting Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varietals in San Luis Obispo County’s little-known Paso Robles region in 1986. With the hands-on devotion of an artisan farmer, Jerry tended to the vines while diligently working toward the creation and development of an adjacent winery and barreling facility, which was completed in 1988.
Today, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines includes more than 900 acres of cool-climate estate vineyards in Monterey County, with an emphasis on Chardonnay, Riesling, Valdiguié and Pinot Noir, 2,000 acres in Paso Robles dedicated to Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah and other red varietals, and 33 acres in Napa Valley, highlighting Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc. From this rich and diverse palette of sustainably farmed estate fruit, J. Lohr crafts wines showcasing bold, concentrated flavors and a vibrant sense of place. The winery offers four tiers of award-winning wines – J. Lohr Estates, J. Lohr Vineyard Series and J. Lohr Cuvée Series. New to the signature portfolio is J. Lohr Gesture, limited-release wines available solely to tasting room visitors and wine club members.
J. Lohr remains one of the few estate-focused wineries of its size, and one of the last substantial independents to benefit from the longevity of management and the passion of a second generation of family members. Though it is operated with the loving care of a boutique winery, J. Lohr welcomes guests at two wine centers, one in San Jose and another in Paso Robles.
J. Lohr has also been shaped by the acumen and commitment of a second generation of the Lohr family. Eldest son Steve Lohr is EVP/COO of the company’s growing vineyard holdings, while sole daughter Cynthia Lohr spearheads corporate and product visibility efforts as vice president of marketing. Youngest son Lawrence Lohr is advocating wine appreciation as director of wine education. Together, they have joined Jerry with an eye toward preserving family involvement in the winery (and the involvement of J. Lohr’s extended employee family) for generations to come.