J. Lohr has two tasting rooms that you can visit; I have been to both. The primary tasting room is in Paso Robles and the secondary tasting room is in San Jose. I prefer the San Jose tasting room mainly because it is off the beaten path of wine tasting, which means fewer crowds to contend with. They proclaim this tasting room as the best of “urban wine country”. I hope I am not the only one to see humor is that statement! They have so many wines to taste that you choose 6 and walk away promising to come back and taste all the others next time . . . or the time after. I am glad that I brought Jack with me, as it allowed me to sample a few beyond my 6 I was allotted.
They have 7 wine series that are currently being produced. The Cypress Vineyards label has all of the wine aged in stainless steel. This makes for lighter whites and reds, and lighter on the pocket too. The J. Lohr Vineyard Series and J. Lohr Estates labels are most of the wines that are being produced there. The J. Lohr Cuvee Series are the creme de la creme of wines that are being offered. Painter Bridge wines are the everyday, yet still taste good, wines. ARIEL are non-alchoholic wines that are good enough to compete with regular wines. Finally, there is a new series of wines with the common appellation Gesture to differentiate them from the other J. Lohr wines available. The Gesture wines are also only available at the tasting rooms. Of the wines that I tasted, my favorites were the 2007 Riverstone Chardonnay, the 2008 Wildflower Valdiguié, and the 2007 Gesture Mourvedre.
2007 Riverstone Chardonnay – This Chardonnay is another one that goes on my list of favorites. It is fermented in oak for 9 months rather than stainless steel, as are most of the Chardonnays that I enjoy. It is crisp without being overly fruity and has enough depth that you would never confuse it with a lighter white wine. Even though it went through malo-lactic fermentation, it is not buttery at all.
2008 Wildflower Valdiguié – This is a combination of 90.2% Valdiguie, 6.6% Petite Verdot, and 3.2% White Reisling. I thought that this was a very nice lighter red wine with strong fruit elements. Blackberries are what come to mind when drinking this wine. I would like to sit on a southern wrap-around porch and sip this wine as I watch the lightning bugs come out in the evening.
2007 Gesture Mourvedre – As I stated earlier, the Gesture wines are only available through the tasting room currently. With this bold and complex Mourvedre to offer, I hope that they bring these wines out of the closet and into the public eyes. With this wine, I got aromas of earth and leather and tasted elements of raspberry and a nice dry yet lingering finish.