California, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

Jan 28, 2014
2014 / February 2014

The man accomplished so much I could write a column about that alone. But Jerry Lohr is a modest man. He would much rather talk about his wines. He would much rather compliment his winemaker, Jeff Meier.

In fact, Jerry Lohr, after successful careers as a civil engineer; a captain in the U.S. Air Force, where he was a research scientist at NASA; and later, in civilian life, as a building entrepreneur, was an early pioneer in California’s Central Coast. He planted vineyards there, in Monterey County, in the 1970s, years before it was recognized as a viable wine region. Having grown up on a farm in South Dakota, he understood the need to plant each grape variety in the soil and climate best suited to it. To have so many growing possibilities, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines now spreads over more than 3,700 acres in the Central Coast and Napa Valley. It is one reason the winery can produce such fine wines. And it sells them at fair prices.

Among his current wines is a 2011 Chardonnay ($25) from Monterey’s Arroyo Seco area. The result of a particularly cool vintage, it is bright yellow, showing pear and other fruit flavors, a light toastiness, fine balance and attractive acidity.

His Riesling 2012 is pale, with an aroma of peach and apricot plus lovely floral tones. It is crisp with a light, fetching sweetness. Overall, a delightful wine and only $10.

Lohr’s Pinot Noir 2011 ($30), also from Arroyo Seco grapes, is impressive indeed. The cold weather and low yield of 2011 were ideal conditions for Pinot Noir. The result is a rather deep-colored wine with a beautiful bouquet of berries.

The grapes for Syrah 2011 ($14) come from warmer Paso Robles. Dark-shaded with a whiff of black pepper and toast in the nose, medium body and supple texture add up to a quintessential Syrah.

The aroma of Lohr’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($25) jumps out of the glass, mingling dark berries, fruits and nuts. It is ripe, full-bodied and well balanced.

As for Jerry Lohr’s other accomplishments — which include his ethical practices and his many honors and awards — as I said in the opening paragraph, that would take up a page, or more, in itself.

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