Disclosure: Party Bluprints Inc. has proudly partnered with J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines and the #YouKnowJLohr campaign to share wine harvest celebration tips, ideas and recipes. The opinions within this post are expressly our own.
As we prepare to enter harvest season, we wanted to mark this time of year with an insider’s look at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. Over the past few months, Elizabeth and I have had the unique opportunity to learn about the amazing family, who lovingly grow, craft and create its wines. We have always enjoyed learning the story behind the label of the wine we sip and share in our homes, but this season we wanted to share the story with you. How well do #YouKnowJLohr?
In 1974, Jerry Lohr, a former Air Force Captain who grew up on a South Dakota farm and studied civil engineering, combined his passion for farming and appreciation for wine to stake a claim and begin making wine. Before anyone else, Jerry Lohr identified the untapped potential for growing grapes along California’s Central Coast. Over the last 40 years, with hard work and a hands-on approach he turned that vision into a reality, building J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines into one of North America’s most successful family wineries. That passion continues today, alongside his children, Steve, Cynthia and Lawrence. A second generation is pouring their passion into the family business. As parents and business owners, we can identify with the satisfaction that must come from transforming your vision into a legacy for your children and find the J. Lohr story especially exciting to share. To learn more about the J. Lohr family and the talented and dedicated team that continues to take J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines to new and exciting heights read more here.
Pictured here – L to R, Jerry, Steve, Cynthia and Lawrence.
To truly experience a bottle of wine, it’s important to learn the story beyond what can be found on the label: the name of the winery, the type of grape(s), where the grapes where grown (on the estate or by a farmer up the road) and the year the grapes were harvested. When you know “the story,” you recognize and appreciate all the time, work and passion that went into making your bottle of wine. A bit of “research” personalizes your tasting experience by allowing you to connect with the roots of your wine. So now that we’ve introduced you to the family roots behind the label, here’s a little insight into the actual roots of the wine. As we previously mentioned, Jerry Lohr was a pioneer. Understanding that every crop finds its perfect home in a unique combination of site, soil and climate, Jerry began planting Cabernet Sauvignon and other red varieties in San Luis Obispo Country’s little-known Paso Robles region in 1986. From the time Jerry discovered this region and J. Lohr produced its first vintage of J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles in 1987, this wine has become almost synonymous with the black cherry and black current flavors of the region.
Below we are happy to share some of the story behind a bottle of J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon and introduce you to Cynthia Lohr. We hope our special interview with her will inspire you to celebrate the wine harvest this season – it inspired us!
Cynthia Lohr spent some of her youth in the vineyards and at the wineries, absorbing aspects of the wine industry firsthand. As an adult, she chose her own path, establishing a reputation for excellence in strategic marketing and public relations, consulting with a who’s who of leading Internet and technology companies. In 2002, Cynthia joined the family business as director of communications for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and in 2009, she was named marketing vice president.
Cynthia’s efforts to champion the family business led to J. Lohr being recognized as the 2010 “American Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and the notable partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to support mammograms for women in need through sales of wines from Carol’s Vineyard. A deeply personal story to the Lohr family, this national campaign has helped fund more than 4,000 mammograms for women who would otherwise be unable to afford them, and raise awareness for this important cause. Beginning in 2016, Cynthia transitioned to the role of trade and brand advocate for J. Lohr.
Interview with Cynthia Lohr – The Story Behind the 2014 J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon
Elizabeth: What was happening in 2014 when the 2014 J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon was being crafted?
Dawn: Was there a momentous occasion in your family during the 2014 harvest season for this wine or something notable happening in your region of the world?
Cynthia Lohr: 2014 marked J. Lohr’s 40th Anniversary as family winegrowers and winemakers, and the first year of operation of our new dedicated ‘white wine’ winery in Greenfield. We held many media, trade, consumer and employee festivities, including the release of two 40th anniversary wines, our J. Lohr 40th Anniversary Pinot Blanc and our J. Lohr 40th Anniversary Red Blend, as well as a ‘christening’ party of the new winery in Greenfield just prior to harvest. The first white wines produced at our new facility in Greenfield have garnered some great reviews with many gold, double gold medals and Best of Region/other distinctions and accolades at national and international wine competitions.
Dawn: List five words that describe the experience when you taste J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cynthia Lohr: This is easy! Bold, rich, ripe, juicy, cherry. While these words may sound redundant, each single word carries weight for the experience of our Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking of the taste.
Elizabeth: What type of barrels are used to age J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon? Can you tell us about the barrel selection process?
Cynthia Lohr: Our J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon is aged 100% in small oak barrels (59 gallons/barrel) for a minimum of twelve months mainly from American oak forests. Roughly 22% of the barrels are new and are from several different coopers – Barrel Associates, Nadalie, Demptos, Seguin Moreau and World Cooperage. Our barrel supplier preferences are reviewed each year in two blind tastings where we evaluate each cooper, forest, toast level, etc. aged for one year in the same base Cabernet Sauvignon wine. From our rank order preferences, we adjust our barrel orders each year based on performance of each cooper and treatment.
Brenden Wood, assistant winemaker, barrel tasting in Paso Robles
Elizabeth: What are your top three tips for a host when sharing wine?
Cynthia Lohr: The wine I will showcase with dinner is not the wine I will first pour once guests are entering. I’d recommend starting with a rosé, such as J. Lohr Gesture Grenache Rosé, or a fresh, Beaujolais-style wine, such as our J. Lohr Estates Wildflower Valdiguié, to get people in the mood and open up their palates. Secondly, I love those pens that allow you to write on your wine glass so that you know which glass belongs to which guest. The writing washes off easily, and allows guests to express themselves creatively, which always helps break the ice! Lastly, hosts need to know their dinner wine well enough to know if it needs to decant, or how long it needs to breathe. Riedel makes so many beautiful decanters they are truly like a work of art and add impact and elegance to any dinner setting.
Dawn: When was the last time you shared a bottle of J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon with friends, family, or a loved one?
Cynthia Lohr: I have an incredible girlfriend who deeply loves our Cabernet, and purchases Cabernets from our vineyards in both Paso Robles and St. Helena in Napa Valley, to share with friends, and for gifts and special occasions. We enjoyed a bottle this past spring at an end-of-year basketball party to honor our coaches, with a smorgasbord of delicious food, at her house! As always, it was well-received and a great way to personalize the occasion with a large group!
Elizabeth: When pairing wine and food, how unexpected do you go? What is your most unusual pairing you’ve discovered with J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cynthia Lohr: My family is full of adventurous eaters, so I always love to try new combinations. I like to pair unctuous fish or sushi with Seven Oaks; there’s something about the contrast of the ripe, juicy fruit flavors in our Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon that deliver umami POW when combined with unagi (eel) sushi or broiled eel. And believe it or not, Chilean Sea Bass is a beautiful pairing as well.
Dawn: What is your favorite meal to pair and share with J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cynthia Lohr: Honestly, as a busy working Mom, my favorite meal to pair with J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon is one that is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and it’s got versatility and flavors that can stand up to the richness of Seven Oaks. Bolognese sauce made from scratch, with lamb and beef, or I can sometimes add in pork, and I’ll add a bit of Seven Oaks to juice-up the flavor and decrease the meat fat. I love to serve it over classic spaghetti noodles, or zucchini noodles, made from that new tool that turns vegetables into long strands, for gluten-free folks, or those who just wish to mix it up a bit. I add a simple salad of mixed lettuces, cucumber, tomato, green onion and avocado, with a dressing of lemon juice and oil, a pinch of garlic salt. For dessert, I also like to keep it simple and crowd-pleasing: vanilla frozen custard with chocolate sauce and berries. Truly happy guests at the end of the evening!
Inspired by Cynthia’s pairing, we’re sharing our recipe for Bolognese sauce so you can celebrate the Wine Harvest in your home. We’ll be sharing this family favorite in our homes too – Cheers.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, diced
- 2 - 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 1 cup J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon
- ½ cup pasta water
- 1 lb. linguine or spaghetti
- 1 ½ Tbsp. iodized salt
- Brown ground beef in large non-stick frying pan, drain and set aside.
- Saute onions, carrots and celery. Add ground beef and garlic, stir to combine and heat on low heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and wine. Continue to stir on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes or until thickened.
- Bring large pot of water to boil. Add salt and pasta. Cook pasta al dente.
- Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- Add pasta into large frying pan, toss with Bolognese sauce, and gradually add in pasta water a few tablespoons at a time, tossing in between until desired consistency is reached.
- Serve with fresh cracked pepper, salt and grated Parmesan cheese on the table so guests may top according to their preference.