Founder and Proprietor
The son of a hard-working South Dakota farming family, Jerry Lohr was born and raised on what would now be considered an organic farm. The importance of planting each individual crop in its appropriate place was instilled in him from an early age. Jerry grew to understand that every crop has a natural ability to excel under very specific growing conditions. This knowledge would later become instrumental in his success as a winegrower.
Jerry graduated from South Dakota State University in 1958. He received an M.S. from Stanford in 1959, and completed all coursework for a Ph.D. in civil engineering by 1961. As an Air Force captain, Jerry was posted as a research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, from 1961-1964. Returning to civilian life, Jerry opened a land development and custom home building business, but his passion for farming and an appreciation of wine soon led him to take on a new challenge: winegrowing.
Jerry dove headfirst into his new endeavor with an extensive investigation of California grape growing regions in the late 1960s. Aware of the importance of climate, soil quality, and location, Jerry finally selected the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County for his first vineyard in 1971. Jerry was also among the first to realize the tremendous untapped promise of Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County, and in 1986 he began planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other red varietals on what is now 2,000 acres of vineyards. Since then, many noted winemakers have come to realize what Jerry saw early on, and have followed in his footsteps.
Respected universally by his peers for his intimate understanding of California winegrowing, Jerry’s knowledge on the subject is vast. He can address any facet of the winegrowing process, be it scientific or agricultural. An industry leader and one of the few remaining substantial independents, Jerry is a fervent advocate for the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County and Paso Robles, regularly investing his energy and resources to champion these regions.
For Jerry, ethical and sustainable business practices are not limited to winegrowing; they also apply to the people who work beside him. To support this philosophy, in 1994 Jerry instituted an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), making J. Lohr’s employees co-owners and partners in the winery’s success. In addition, J. Lohr employees enjoy the benefits of a profit sharing program. By being a man of integrity, Jerry has guaranteed J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines the loyalty and best efforts of its team, which has had a profound effect on the wine in the bottle.
Jerry’s dedication goes beyond J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. His work on behalf of the entire industry has included former posts as director and chair of the Wine Institute and chair of the Monterey Winegrowers Council. He is also one of the four founding members of Wine Vision, an industry group that promotes a long-range view of the wine industry. Additionally, Jerry founded the National Grape and Wine Initiative (NGWI), a coalition representing grape growers, processors, wineries, and academic institutions committed to improving the industry. Over the course of his career, Jerry has served as founding director, four-time president, and chair of the marketing committee of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers’ Association. He has also served as director and chair of the marketing committee for the Paso Robles Vintners and Growers Association. In 2007, UC Davis honored Jerry with its Award of Distinction, and in 2008 he was named Wine Industry Person of the Year by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.