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Cal Poly's Center for Wine and Viticulture will be named the JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture

California Polytechnic State University's wine and viticulture department is about to have a makeover, thanks to a $16.5 million winery and grange hall
by Kerana Todorov
July 12, 2018
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Cal Poly's JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture is under construction in San Luis Obispo. It is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2019. Rendering courtesy of Cal Poly.

California Polytechnic State University’s wine and viticulture department is about to have a makeover, thanks to a $16.5 million winery and grange hall the San Luis Obispo school anticipates to open by fall 2019.

On Wednesday, Cal Poly announced that the future Center for Wine and Viticulture will be known as the JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture. The new complex is named after the project’s two largest donors - JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery and J. Lohr Vineyards.

The two Paso Robles companies have pledged $2.5 million each to the project.

“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 provide the rigorously trained talent that the wine industry depends on,” Andrew Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, said in a written statement.

A formal groundbreaking was May 4. Construction is anticipated to begin this summer; the center is scheduled to open in the fall 2019, according to the California Polytechnic State University.

The new center, which will serve about 300 students, includes a 15,600-square-foot winery, and a 12,000-square-foot grange hall. The bonded winery is authorized to produce up to 5,000 cases a year. The new center also includes teaching and research laboratories as well as crush, fermentation, barrel and bottling areas. It also houses also meeting spaces and offices.

The school also owns a 14-acre teaching and production vineyard. Student and research wine have been made for years at a pilot winery located in an ag building on campus. Commercial wine is now produced at a partner winery off campus.

“This will be essentially a major upgrade,” said Grant Kirkpatrick, senior director of development for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly.

The entire project is privately funded; donors include industry members, alumni and parents, according to the university. All but $2 million have been raised, Kirkpatrick said. He plans to raise the last $2 million within the next six months. Donations of any size are welcome.

“Anything is incredibly helpful right now,” Kirkpatrick said.

Cal Poly, which enrolls 4,000 students in its agriculture programs, recently inaugurated another complex - the new Oppenheimer Family Equine Center, a $12 million project. The center includes a new riding arena as well as foaling, stallion and hay barns.

Grant Kirkpatrick, Cal Poly’s senior director of development for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly, can be reached at (805) 756-2173 or at gkirpat@calpoly.edu

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