The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 83 of 124

{ }  83 Jerry Lohr, founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, has carefully cultivated his image in the California wine industry for going on 45 years: as the man in the straw hat and worn out jeans, more comfortable on a backhoe, vineyard ATV, or big Cherokee wagons driven well over 300,000 miles. The first time he got the hankering to push a shovel into the sandy Salinas Valley soil was in 1959, when he was passing through after attaining his Master's in Civil Engineering at Stanford. Tours in the Air Force and a successful career as a custom home builder delayed his ambition to grow wine grapes, but he finally got back to that site in John Steinbeck country in the winter of 1971. "I was specifically looking for gravelly loam, not clay," says Lohr, "because I heard this was ideal for winemaking." Lohr had also consulted literature by U.C. Davis's Winkler and Amerine, suggesting that the climatic zone south of Soledad near Greenfield might be good for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. "What we didn't count on was the wind, which made ripening Bordeaux grapes difficult, if not impossible," says Lohr. "Now we concentrate our Cabernet Sauvignon further south in Paso Robles, where we get a suitably warmer climate, but much wider diurnal swings than in Arroyo Seco." { SOMM CAMP preview } Jerry Lohr in his Arroyo Seco vineyard. THE ARROYO SECO Standard Bearer J. LOHR VINEYARDS & WINES, JERRY LOHR, FOUNDER/GROWER story and photos by Randy Caparoso

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