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J. Lohr and the Three Es of Sustainability:
Environment, Equity (Social), Economics
We at J. Lohr believe our comprehensive, sustainable approach to farming and producing wines is good for our environment, our employees, and our communities. This commitment to sustainability naturally begins in the vineyards—where the health and vitality of the vines dictate the flavors in our wines—and follows through to our state-of-the-art practices, to our many partners, and is demonstrated in our industry leadership.
We prepare our 3,000 acres of estate vineyards using mineral-based amendments such as limestone, marble white, and composted waste from previous vintages, years before we plant new vines and throughout the lifecycle of the vineyard. Processes which revere the natural ecosystem—including composting our waste materials along with chipping of removed vines and prunings (versus burning the vines)—also help fortify the land. Continual monitoring of water status in vines and soil through weather data, evapo-transpiration assessment via solar panel technology, and moisture sensors, help calibrate water needs and schedule deficit and drip irrigation. This results in average usage of only one acre foot of water per acre per year. Once vines are planted, we maintain permanent cover crops to limit carbon dioxide emissions and weed growth, preserve soil integrity and enhance soil health, and prevent erosion.
Owl boxes on J. Lohr’s satellite ranches help mitigate vertebrate pests, while our home ranch has a substantial number of oak trees which are a natural habitat for birds of prey. Water troughs near these trees serve to hydrate birds amidst dramatic temperature fluctuations. Weather data and degree-day calculations are used to minimize the use of pest-related sprays, as are minimizing soil tillage, regular leaf removal, maintaining vine vigor, and controlling vehicle speed to reduce pest-enhancing dust. Vineyard employees are trained to keep detailed records of pest lifecycles, which impact economic decisions in the vineyard while allowing beneficial weeds and insects to thrive.
J. Lohr's Safety & Environmental Coordinator Jeff Zucker has instituted a comprehensive water conservation program which has cut water usage by 1/3 since 2003, and which has also helped optimize the use of waste water to improve system performance. Click here to for the video. Our approach to water conservation also ties water usage to land, through state-of-the-art practices including stress-inducing deficit irrigation, and benchmarking aquifer usage. To better understand ways to optimize water usage, J. Lohr is participating in a usage study of 100 vineyard sites in the Estrella sub-basin, the region surrounding the river of the same name which bisects the Paso Robles appellation and flows west to northwest to the Salinas River. Check here to read the full interview with Jeff.
J. Lohr believes clean, renewable energy is critical to sustainability and is essential for preserving the environment. As part of our ongoing commitment to energy conservation, we use motion-sensitive lighting in our barrel rooms and throughout our Paso Robles production facility. In February 2009, J. Lohr announced the largest solar initiative of its kind in North America. Click here to learn more about our 3-acre solar tracking arraywhich offsets 75% of the winery’s energy usage in Paso Robles.
Packaging materials and recycling
J. Lohr recycles packaging materials including bottles, cans, plastic, plastic shrink wrap, paper and cardboard, in addition to production and operational materials including batteries, light bulbs, tires, cork, wood pallets and wood packaging. J. Lohr is also exploring more environmentally-favorable inks and packaging processes which reduce the number of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) released into the atmosphere.
Commitment to people
Social equity and responsibility—and respect for our employees, suppliers and customers—are among two core values we take to heart. J. Lohr is one of the few producers in Monterey County to provide long-term employment and year-round health benefits to our vineyard staff and their families, an anomaly in the farming community. J. Lohr believes cultural enrichment helps minds of all ages to thrive, and supports many non-profits in the areas of music and the performing arts as well as initiatives in wine appellation and culinary education. Lastly, J. Lohr is devoted to many causes focused on the health and wellness of children and families, most notably national organizations including Best Buddies, American Heart Association and the National Breast Cancer Foundation, whose national efforts to call attention to heart disease and breast cancer are causes the extended Lohr family holds dear. Click here to read a partial list of regional and national organizations J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines supports.
Sustainability and leadership
J. Lohr’s culture is one of knowledge-sharing and industry leadership—particularly in the areas of sustainability and wine research. J. Lohr’s Red Winemaker Steve Peck and Viticulturist Anji Perry serve on the Board of Directors as sustainability stewards representing the Central Coast Vineyard Team. Jerry and Executive VP/Chief Operating Officer Steve Lohr have been involved with the design and development of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program’s certification efforts through the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance in concert with the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. Jerry Lohr, legendary for his industry influence at the Wine Institute and as co-founder and board director of the National Grape and Wine Initiative among many other positions of esteem, has long-championed Paso Robles and Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco as premier California winegrowing regions, locally and across the nation. This culture of leadership is widely adopted at J. Lohr, and is reflected in this comprehensive list of employee professional affiliations.
With the goal of long-term company and environmental sustainability, J. Lohr has benefited from the dedication of its family of employees, many of whom have strategically shaped J. Lohr over the last three decades. Together with Jerry and the second generation of the Lohr family, the company continues its best practices to ensure the company’s overall health for generations to come.