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  • Retiring President/COO Jeff Meier Leaves a Legacy of Experimentation and Innovation

    UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Recognizes Contributions With Highest Honor, Award of Distinction

    Jeff Meier Press Release

    San Jose, Calif. – Nov. 16, 2021 – J. Lohr Vine­yards & Wines President/​COO Jeff Meier, one of the Cen­tral Coast wine industry’s most well-respect­ed fig­ures, is retir­ing this Decem­ber after 37 years with J. Lohr Vine­yards & Wines. For near­ly four decades, Jeff has been an inte­gral part of J. Lohr’s suc­cess, work­ing close­ly with Founder Jer­ry Lohr, the Lohr fam­i­ly and their teams to help build one of the world’s most her­ald­ed winer­ies. Known for his wide-rang­ing acu­men and com­pre­hen­sive atten­tion to detail, Jeff has fueled a spir­it of exper­i­men­ta­tion and inno­va­tion that is his lega­cy. In recog­ni­tion of his indus­try lead­er­ship and con­tri­bu­tions, Jeff was recent­ly named one of two Alum­ni of the Year for the UC Davis Col­lege of Agri­cul­ture and Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ences’ 32nd annu­al Award of Dis­tinc­tion event. This acco­lade is the high­est hon­or with­in the college.

    A San Fran­cis­co Bay Area native, Jeff would often accom­pa­ny his par­ents on wine tast­ing trips to Napa and Sono­ma, where he fell in love with the beau­ty and tran­quil­i­ty of the vine­yards and sub­se­quent­ly devel­oped his life­long pas­sion for wine. This pas­sion led Jeff to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis, where he earned his degree in viti­cul­ture and enol­o­gy, study­ing under leg­endary pro­fes­sors Dins­more Webb, James Cook, Mark Kliew­er, Ann Noble, Car­ole Mered­ith and Cor­nelius Ough.

    Jeff worked his first har­vest at J. Lohr in 1984 and was named wine­mak­er in 1995 after fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of col­league and men­tor Bar­ry Gnekow, who instilled in Jeff an appre­ci­a­tion for the artistry of wine­mak­ing, as well as a deep­er under­stand­ing of the direct rela­tion­ship between vine­yard con­di­tions and wine qual­i­ty. Dur­ing Jeff’s 25-year tenure as wine­mak­er and lat­er direc­tor of wine­mak­ing, he has cham­pi­oned a holis­tic approach to craft­ing wines that uphold long-stand­ing men­tor and leader Jer­ry Lohr’s orig­i­nal vision to grow, pro­duce and bot­tle wines with a dis­tinct sense of place from J. Lohr’s more than 4,000 cer­ti­fied sus­tain­able estate acres in Mon­terey County’s Arroyo Seco and San­ta Lucia High­lands appel­la­tions, Paso Rob­les, and St. Hele­na in the Napa Val­ley. True pio­neers of Cen­tral Coast grape grow­ing and wine­mak­ing, Jer­ry, Jeff and their teams intro­duced the vine­yard-dri­ven wines from J. Lohr Estates in 1987 and lat­er, J. Lohr Vine­yard Series in 1998, to a glob­al audi­ence and to crit­i­cal acclaim. In 2014, Jeff was named J. Lohr President/​COO, over­see­ing oper­a­tions, pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing, while also work­ing close­ly with Direc­tor of Wine­mak­ing Steve Peck to ensure con­ti­nu­ity in the styl­is­tic direc­tion of all J. Lohr wines. 

    Our vine­yards are at the core of our iden­ti­ty,” said Jeff. Because we have com­plete con­trol over farm­ing, we can devel­op each block with the appro­pri­ate clones, root­stock, spac­ing, trel­lis­ing and yields to max­i­mize flavor.” 

    This com­pa­ny-wide com­mit­ment to max­i­miz­ing fla­vor, the-dev­il-is-in-the-details’ focus on phe­no­lic and data analy­sis, invest­ment in bar­rels and state-of-the art equip­ment, and inno­va­tion in pack­ag­ing helped nur­ture Jeff’s cre­ative side to exper­i­ment – and inno­vate – with new tiers, vari­etals and blends. After trips to the Left and Right Banks of Bor­deaux, France, Jeff and his teams began to blend J. Lohr’s Paso Rob­les-grown Bor­deaux vari­eties, chiefly Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, Mer­lot and Caber­net Franc, to cre­ate the J. Lohr Cuvée Series, which debuted in 2002 and to date has received some of J. Lohr’s most sig­nif­i­cant indus­try praise. In 2009, after grape grow­ing tri­als of Rhône vari­eties, Jeff and his teams launched the lim­it­ed-release J. Lohr Ges­ture.

    It’s been incred­i­bly reward­ing to see the growth of J. Lohr – from hav­ing two wines in the 

    J. Lohr Estates tier reflect­ed in the Nielsen Top 10, to the birth of the J. Lohr Vine­yard Series, the Cuvée Series, Ges­ture, J. Lohr Sig­na­ture Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, J. Lohr Pure Paso™, even our 40th Anniver­sary wines,” said Jeff. I am very proud to have worked along­side Jer­ry and the fam­i­ly in devel­op­ing an indus­try-best ros­ter of tal­ent­ed wine­mak­ers, enol­o­gists, and pro­duc­tion team members.”

    Jeff has estab­lished many stan­dards of excel­lence with­in J. Lohr and through­out the indus­try over his many years, and on many lev­els” said Founder Jer­ry Lohr. Jeff’s impact and lega­cy will endure long after his retire­ment and his work will con­tin­ue under the lead­er­ship of the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the Lohr fam­i­ly, which includes CEO Steve, CBO Cyn­thia, and COO, Vine­yards Lawrence. We col­lec­tive­ly cher­ish Jeff for all he has brought to our wine qual­i­ty and pro­duc­tion capa­bil­i­ties, to our wine edu­ca­tion and mar­ket­ing, and to our fam­i­ly of col­leagues and communities.”

    Jeff remains a tire­less advo­cate for indus­try research and exper­i­men­ta­tion, attend­ing and pre­sent­ing at tech­ni­cal con­fer­ences around the world. He is also an active mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety for Enol­o­gy and Viti­cul­ture, the Exec­u­tive Lead­er­ship Board at UC Davis, and the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Society. 

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