Biz Buzz: Jerry Lohr gets statewide recognition

Jerry Lohr received two honors recently for his commitment to the California and Central Coast wine industries.

“One of the biggest threats that we face is a flood of cheap imports,” said John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. “Jerry’s commitment to research really recognizes that we can’t grow as an industry expecting consumers to pay more and more for our products. We have to find ways to be more efficient.”

Based in San Jose, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines has 2,000 vineyard acres and a second winery in Paso Robles, 900 acres in Monterey County and 33 acres in Napa Valley.

At Aguirre’s request, his board of directors voted to present Lohr with a special recognition for lifetime achievement at its annual meeting Jan. 25.

Hearing about that honor, state Sen. Sam Blakeslee felt Lohr also deserved recognition from the state Senate for his contributions to the local industry, his leadership in the sustainability movement and his service in the U.S. Air Force. Blakeslee presented a Senate resolution at the same meeting.

“Jerry and the Lohr family have helped shape the winemaking industry in California and the nation,” Blakeslee said. “I have been privileged over these past several years to spend time at the J. Lohr vineyard and experience firsthand their dedication to the land, their team and to our community.”

Lohr is chairman of the development committee for the National Grape & Wine Initiative.

He has provided significant support to viticulture and enology programs at UC Davis and Cal Poly, Aguirre added, including being a “strong leader” in the effort to raise $20 million for a new winery, brewery and food science laboratory at UC Davis.

With a background in civil engineering, Lohr even helped with the design to save money.

Originally from South Dakota, Lohr began growing grapes in the Arroyo Seco appellation in 1972. In 1986, Lohr began planting in Paso Robles and finished the winery there two years later.

Vintners group hires Mooncatcher

The San Luis Obispo Vintners Association has contracted Mooncatcher, a Paso Robles marketing firm, to help refine its message.

“We want to hone in on our story,” said Becky Gray, the vintner group’s executive director. “We cover a big territory.”

The association covers three viticulture areas: Edna, Arroyo Grande and Avila valleys. One of its 31 winery members, Ancient Peaks Winery, is in Santa Margarita.

From 2006 to late 2009, the organization’s prime focus was Taste, a downtown retail center that also referred visitors to members’ tasting rooms.

Since its closure, the 20-year-old group has been reestablishing communications and joint efforts with others in the state, including the Wine Institute.

It also collaborated with, a recently launched tourism website spearheaded by the San Luis Obispo County Business Improvement District.

Gray expects social media and videography to be key focuses in 2011.

Mooncatcher is a partnership of husband-and-wife team Christopher and Malei Weir.

“We’re really excited to be a part of the SLO Vintners team,” Christopher Weir said. “We have a deep connection with and affection for the region and the wineries.”

Of the eight proposals submitted by agencies, Weir’s was chosen partly because of his past wine industry experience. He was communications director at Firestone Vineyard in Los Olivos from 2000 to 2003 and has worked for several association members.

“Our main premise as an organization is to drive people to the tasting rooms,” Gray added. “I know we can have a great message. It’s just a matter of figuring out what that is and going forward with it.”

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