Cal Poly to name Center for Wine and Viticulture in recognition of two key donors


SAN LUIS OBISPO — In recognition of the generosity and philanthropic support of two donors to the building of Cal Poly’s Center for Wine and Viticulture, the center will be named the JUSTIN and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture.

Lynda and Stewart Resnick, owners of JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, a family-run winery that focuses on Bordeaux varieties and syrah in west Paso Robles, donated $2.5 million to Cal Poly’s campaign to build the Center for Wine and Viticulture. The center will be co-named for Jerry Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards, an industry icon also based in Paso Robles who also committed $2.5 million in funding.

“The local wine community has stepped forward in support of this project, solidifying a partnership with Cal Poly that will not only benefit students for years to come but will provide the rigorously trained talent that the wine industry depends on,” said Andrew Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

“Cal Poly has demonstrated the university’s commitment to providing future generations of wine makers and vintners and its support of the wine industry at a national level,” said Stewart Resnick, co-owner of JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery. “Our investment in the Cal Poly Center for Wine and Viticulture signifies our commitment to a partnership that will allow the industry to continue to prosper. We are not just giving back; we are investing in the future.”

A groundbreaking ceremony, attended by key donors and supporters, as well as Cal Poly leadership, faculty, staff and students, was held May 4. A public event will be held once construction is complete. The JUSTIN and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture is anticipated to open in late 2019.

The JUSTIN and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture is a donor-funded project that will enhance the wine and viticulture program at Cal Poly for years to come. The geographic locale of Cal Poly positions it at the heart of California’s Central Coast — providing students with hands-on access to vineyards and wineries to learn first-hand from some of the wine industry’s top leaders and some of the country’s best winemakers. Students, who benefit from Cal Poly’s philosophy of learn by doing, have access to thousands of award-winning wineries throughout the state, providing abundant internship and research opportunities.

The JUSTIN and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture will include both a 15,600-square-foot winery and a 12,000-square-foot grange hall. The buildings will include crush, fermentation, barrel, sensory, bottling, enology and viticulture rooms, as well as teaching and research labs, a bonded winery, offices, and community and industry meeting spaces. Professional partners in the project include TLCD Architecture as the executive architects, Von Raesfeld and Associates as the winery consulting architects, and JW Design and Construction as the contractor.

“We would not be where we are today, ready to begin construction, without the countless volunteers who stepped forward and the leadership and persistence of our longtime supporters, including Jerry Lohr who has been with the project since its inception and led the charge in rallying the wine community to support our vision for the future,” said Thulin. “The symbiotic relationship that is shared by Cal Poly and the wine industry nationwide will now be commemorated brick by brick.”

Members of the Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture fundraising committee, comprised of key industry professionals, include: Jerry Lohr (chair), Vicki Carroll, Paul Burkner, Steve Burns, Pat Delong, Dana Merrill and Dennis Stroud.

“I am elated to celebrate the start of construction of the Center for Wine and Viticulture — a vision that I have supported since the beginning,” said Jerry Lohr. “With the partnership of JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, years of planning will now emerge as the preeminent program for wine and viticulture students in the nation.”  

Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture program, the largest of its kind in the U.S., provides a comprehensive education that focuses on the three major elements of the wine industry: viticulture, enology and wine business.

The program currently has a 14-acre teaching and production vineyard and small pilot winery where students gain hands-on experience in all aspects of the industry, from vineyard cultivation and management to winemaking, marketing and distribution.

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