A Central Coast wine stalwart has earned a rare honor for his decades of dedication, and a local brewery adds another trophy to its shelf.
Jerry Lohr, the namesake of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, is only the third person to be named “American Wine Legend” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, which is expected to celebrate its Wine Star Awards winners in January as part of its annual “Best of Year” edition.
Lohr, 80, who planted his first vineyards in Monterey County in the early 1970s before taking his wine-producing skills to Paso Robles in the late 1980s, has been celebrated for helping bring worldwide attention to the Central Coast wine community.
He is being honored by Wine Enthusiast for his “energy, courage, groundbreaking vision and business acumen” and his “invaluable contributions to the industry,” J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines said in a news release Thursday.
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“What Robert Mondavi was to Napa Valley, Jerry Lohr is to the Central Coast, leading and elevating an entire viticultural region from Monterey to Paso Robles with perseverance, dedication and a passion for quality,” said Adam Strum, editor and publisher of Wine Enthusiast, in the news release.
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines owns more than 5,000 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles, Monterey County and Napa Valley, according to the company.
Earlier this year, Lohr donated money and equipment to Cal Poly to help build a new teaching and research winery. At the time, the university did not disclose how much Lohr donated; however, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines said in Thursday’s news release it was “a million-dollar pledge.”
Firestone Walker named ‘Brewery of the Year’
Wine Enthusiast also is honoring Paso Robles beermaker Firestone Walker Brewing Co. as “Brewery of the Year.”
The Central Coast favorite, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, announced Thursday it had been selected.
“It’s an honor to share this distinction with Jerry Lohr and the other award recipients, and to spread the word about our home region,” Firestone Walker co-founder David Walker said in a news release Thursday.
Wine Enthusiast said award winners were chosen “for their groundbreaking vision coupled with the courage to take risks and the skill to succeed.”
Firestone keeps turning out some of its traditional favorites, but it’s not afraid to shake things up.
Firestone also released its “XX” Anniversary Ale, which hit stores last week. The ale consists of several barrel-aged Firestone beers blended with input from more than a dozen esteemed local winemakers.
The Wine Star Awards celebration will be Jan. 30 in Miami, according to the magazine.
Mark Powell: 805-781-7915
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