J. Lohr celebrates its 40th anniversary
-San Jose Mercury News reports-
Harvest is under way at J. Lohr’s vineyards in Arroyo Seco, Paso Robles and the Napa Valley. But this year holds special significance: The winery is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
The winery, then known as Turgeon & Lohr, was founded in 1974 in San Jose. Jerry Lohr — who had grown up on a grain and cattle farm in South Dakota and then worked as a developer and homebuilder in the Saratoga area — and business partner Bernie Turgeon had bought nearly 300 acres in 1972 in Monterey County’s Greenfield and planted grapes.
It was a somewhat risky move, because commercial viticulture in the county was only about 10 years old, and the results hadn’t always been promising. Many growers were planting what was selling rather than matching grape varieties to a suitable site. In Monterey, that meant a lot of vegetal cabernet sauvignon from areas that were too cool and windy.
“We hedged a couple of ways,” Lohr says now. “We didn’t build a winery. And I planted 11 varieties to begin with.”
By 1979, they had settled on four, including chardonnay, riesling, pinot blanc and valdiguié, previously known as Napa gamay. (Pinot blanc is gone now, Lohr says, because “it didn’t really catch on.”) Lohr bought out Turgeon in 1984, and the winery’s name was changed to J. Lohr.
Lohr went on to purchase land in Paso Robles, starting in 1986, for cabernet sauvignon, merlot and other warmer-climate varieties, and increased the company’s vineyard holdings in Greenfield, in what became the Arroyo Seco American Viticultural Area in 1983. He also owns a vineyard in Napa Valley called Carol’s Vineyard, named for his late wife, and planted a vineyard in 2008 in the Santa Lucia Highlands. J. Lohr currently owns more than 4,000 acres in California, all of it certified sustainable, leases about 1,000 more and has wineries in San Jose, Paso Robles and Greenfield. Production stands at about 1.5 million cases a year.
Read the entire story at the Mercury News