J. Lohr Estates won its 15th Growth Brands Award in 2016 as a Comeback Brand, after selling more than 1.4 million cases in 2015. Reaching that milestone number of wins makes J. Lohr Estates our second wine in the Growth Brands Hall of Fame, joining 2015 inductee, Chateau Ste. Michelle.
J. Lohr was presented with a Hall of Fame trophy at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Convention in April, as part of the annual Growth Brands Award ceremony. The company’s history of family ownership, conservation efforts and sustained growth led to its consistent track record of winning 15 times in 20 years.
Jerry Lohr came to California’s central coast in late 1960, planting his first 280-acre vineyard in Monterey County in 1972 and 1973. Today, the company’s holdings include 1.300 acres of cool-climate vineyards in Monterey County, in addition to 2,300 acres of estate vineyards in Paso Robles and 35 acres in Napa Valley.
“J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines is one of the few remaining family-owned and operated wineries of significant size still focused on making wine that says ‘produced and bottled by’ on the back label,” says Chairman and CEO Steve Lohr. “We ferment, age, blend and bottle our own wine with grapes grown in our estate vineyards and we’re committed to traditional, small-oak-barrel fermentation and aging.”
The brand’s family roots are also helpful because stakeholders take a long-term view of financial success, rather than only looking for immediate gains.
“We focus on sustained, measured growth so we can keep the consistency of flavors we’re known for, while providing some of the best values in the market at our given price points – primarily $14 to $35,” Lohr says. “We also have a highly-educated sales force that accompanies our distributors and key accounts on trips to California so they can see first-hand the care we take in growing our grapes and making wine.”
Staying the Course
After decades of steady growth, J. Lohr is continuing its philosophy of smart and sustainable innovation. The company is building a new white wine winery in its Arroyo Seco vineyards in Monterey County, which will build on its commitment to the environment. J. Lohr was one of the first vineyards and wineries in California to be certified sustainable through the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
“With water conservation being so critical in drought-stricken California, we’ve invested in Surface Renewal technology, which holistically measures not only how much water is used by grape vines, but also how much leaves the environment through cover crops and bare soil,” Lohr says.
“We will not take any shortcuts to make the wines we’ve come to be known for,” he says. “We’ll continue to provide the highest level of service to our distributors, as well as our on- and off-premise accounts. And we will keep consumers engaged with our brands through a strong digital footprint.”
The Spirits Growth Brands Hall of Fame is comprised of: Burnett’s Vodka, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal, Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, Maker’s Mark and SKYY Vodka, while the Beer Growth Brands Hall of Fame contains Blue Moon, Corona Extra, Corona Light, Dos Euis, Modelo Especial, Pacifico, Shiner Bock, Stella Artois and Yuengling Lager
Jeremy Nedelka is editor of Beverage Dynamics Magazine, a sister publication of Cheers.