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J. Lohr Looks To Elevate The Paso Robles AVA

August 5, 2019

With a portfolio of 35 wines totaling 1.7 million cases, California’s J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines continues to expand its presence in the U.S. market. Company CEO Steve Lohr tells SND the winery’s focus is on elevating its home base of Paso Robles and distinguishing it as a unique California AVA.

This month, J. Lohr is debuting a new wine, Pure Paso Proprietary Red Blend ($27), in select markets. Pure Paso consists of 70.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26.5% Petite Sirah, sourced from Paso sub-regions El Pomar and Estrella District, respectively. Small quantities of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec round out the blend, which was aged for 18 months.

“This wine is meant to reflect two of the best varietals from the Paso Robles appellation,” says Lohr. “Though there are other great areas in California for Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah, Paso Robles is unique in how it handles both Bordeaux and Rhône grapes.” In its inaugural run, Pure Paso Proprietary Red Blend will have volume of 10,000 cases, targeted primarily at a mix of independent and chain retail accounts.

Also new at J. Lohr is refreshed packaging for the winery’s super-premium Vineyard Series. Starting this month, all eight Vineyard Series bottles will feature a higher end, minimalist look, with specific vintage notes included on the back label. The range is led by the Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon ($35), Arroyo Vista Chardonnay ($22), Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir ($35), and Tower Road Petite Sirah ($35). J. Lohr has placed more emphasis on its Vineyard Series recently in an effort to expand at the higher end.

The J. Lohr Estates tier remains the winery’s workhorse, with the Seven Oaks Cabernet ($17) accounting for 900,000 cases in 2018 and the Riverstone Chardonnay depleting 450,000 cases. Together, the two wines represent about 80% of J. Lohr’s overall production. Lohr notes, however, that the lineup’s Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc are also strong performers, with the latter recently gaining traction.

Meanwhile, as Paso’s tourism sector expands, J. Lohr is set to renovate its tasting room, with construction to commence over the next couple months. Lohr says the effort is aimed at upgrading the tasting experience both for wine club members and new guests interested in exploring the region.—Julia Higgins

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