The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2016

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1 18  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2016 S itting next to the founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jerry Lohr, to celebrate his anticipated 80th birthday on January 1, 2017—drinking in both his stories and his wines, paired with an incred- ible lunch—felt almost as if it was my birthday. I wasn't the only person lucky enough to be at this intimate lunch at The Eclectic in North Hollywood, CA. Also in attendance were The Tasting Panel's Publisher/Editorial Director Meridith May (and, worth noting, a longtime supporter of J. Lohr and advocate of Paso Robles wines in general), our VP/Sales & Marketing Bill Brandel, and Lohr's right-hand man, President/Chief Operating Officer and Director of Winemaking Jeff Meier. A biographical account of Jerry Lohr's life would also reveal the beginnings and evolution of the Central Coast winegrowing region, namely Arroyo Seco in Monterey County and Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County. At the end of the 1960s, Lohr purchased his first piece of land in Arroyo Seco and planted 280 acres as a return to his family's farming roots. Almost 50 years later, the Lohr family now owns 1,653 vineyards in the Arroyo Seco (it became an official AVA in 1983) and Santa Lucia Highlands (also designated an AVA in 1983) in Monterey, in addition to the 3,439 acres in Paso Robles, not to mention their 35 acres in St. Helena in Napa Valley. The six courses of the luncheon seemed to serve as six different chapters, each containing two or three short stories from the Book of Lohr. The narrative ranged from the price increase of land in Paso to his grand- daughter Annabella's school; from their purposeful decrease in vineyard row space to red blotch vine disease; from irrigation to why Paso Robles's curious "charcoal oaks" exist (they are relics of the former charcoal industry) and even to drawing maps on napkins locating Tower Road in Paso. Every Jerry Lohr, founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, at The Eclectic in North Hollywood, CA. THE DAYS OF LOHR CENTRAL COAST PIONEER JERRY LOHR CELEBRATES HIS 80TH BIRTHDAY WITH THE TASTING PANEL by Jessie Birschbach / photos by Cal Bingham MILESTONES

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