For more than two decades, Agapito Vazquez has guided the care and cultivation of J. Lohr’s estate vineyards in the Greenfield region of Monterey County. A passionate viticulturist, with more than 40 years of farming experience, Agapito has helped to make J. Lohr’s winegrowing efforts a benchmark for excellence on the Central Coast, and one of Monterey County’s most respected estate programs. At the same time, he has established himself as a dedicated advocate on behalf of his beloved Greenfield community.
Agapito moved to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico in 1969. After trying his hand working with a variety of crops, from cucumber, lettuce and asparagus to pears, peaches and apples, Agapito discovered his calling pruning grape vines. “The work was cold, rainy and muddy,” says Agapito, “but I found that I liked the challenge of understanding the needs of each vine.” Though his skill working with winegrapes took him from Souverain in Napa Valley to Meade Ranch in the Sierras, his skill as a manager ultimately led him to the role of director of field services for the California Growers Foundation—a role he held from 1976 through 1988. In this position, Agapito worked with field workers from 58 different companies, helping to meet their needs and create positive working environments.
In 1988, eager to explore a different side of his passion for viticulture, Agapito joined the winemaking team at Beringer, where he learned the fundamentals of winemaking, before ultimately joining the J. Lohr team in 1989. Agapito spent his first decade at J. Lohr as the supervisor of vineyards for Greenfield, before becoming vineyard manager in 2000. As vineyard manager, Agapito works closely with Jerry and Steve Lohr to emphasize the highest standards of quality, with a focus on farming for flavor through meticulous viticultural practices, including rigorous pruning, canopy management, leafing and thinning. At the same time, Agapito has personally overseen the planting of more than 500 estate vine acres for J. Lohr in Monterey County. “When you plant a vineyard, it’s like getting a new guitar in your hands,” says Agapito. “You have to play it, fine tune it, learn its ways, then you can make real music. It’s the same with vineyards.” Agapito is supported by a full-time Monterey County vineyard team of 27, more than half of whom have worked alongside him for more than a decade.
In addition to his work at J. Lohr, Agapito is a respected member of the Greenfield community. Agapito is a twice-elected member of the Greenfield City Council, and is on the board of directors of his local Women’s Crisis Center and Poder Popular, an organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of farm workers and their families.