J. Lohr is one of the most important wine estates along the burgeoning Central Coast of California. With approximately two thousand acres of prime viticultural real estate in Monterey County and Paso Robles, J. Lohr is one of the largest family-owned wine estates in that part of California. Founded in 1972 by Jerry Lohr, the estate has grown into a storehouse of premium, estate-bottled varietals from Chardonnay to Valdiguie. A South Dakota farmer, turned Civil Engineer and real estate developer after graduating from Stanford University in 1959, the imposing Lohr still directs this family venture, and with veteran winemaker Jeff Meier he oversees all aspects of operation from viticulture to winemaking. Quality and pleasurable drinking are the key words here. Although J. Lohr produces many different wines under several labels (Ariel, Cypress as well as J.Lohr), it is the winery's Vineyard Series and estate produced red varietals, which offer the consumer the most extraordinary quality. Perhaps, the most recent of the estate's offerings, the Los Osos Merlot, is also the most compelling. The 1999 vintage marks only the third release for the rich, highly extracted J.Lohr Los Osos Merlot, but what a wine this is. Produced from two clones of French Merlot, with small additions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the 1999 Los Osos marks a turning point in the history of Paso Robles Merlot. Long known for its great old vine Zinfandels and round blackberry flavored Cabernet Sauvignons, Paso Robles can now claim Merlot in its diadem of great red varietals, with the help of J. Lohr. The 1999 Los Osos establishes Merlot as the fullest, most concentrated of J. Lohr's estate bottled varietals, towering over the suave but much softer, less imposing Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon. Moreover, it puts most other premium Merlot, even those from Napa Valley with more famous names, to shame. Undoubtedly, the perfect combination of terroir (the Los Osos Merlot is produced from well drained and situated chalk and gravel complexes in Paso Robles) and winemaking expertise went into making the 1999 Los Osos Merlot. The extraordinary 1999 vintage also lent a hand in producing such a compelling Merlot. The 1999 vintage will be remembered as one of the most exceptional red wine vintages along the Central Coast of California, says J. Lohr. This was a La Nina growing season when the Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of California cool, or transition from warm to cool - providing the most even and moderate temperature vintage, rivaling the great year of 1985. This vintage produced a small crop of some of the most concentrated and heavily pigmented red Bordeaux grapes that we have ever seen in Paso Robles. Such moderate, even growing conditions are perfectly suited to producing perfectly ripe Merlot grapes and complex flavorful wines. In addition to the exceptional Los Osos Merlot, J. Lohr produces other noteworthy estate offerings, including the very fine Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, the Riverstone Chardonnay, and the South Ridge Syrah, among others. J. Lohr also produces the venerable Bramblewood Zinfandel from a vineyard planted in Lodi in the 1930's. The small production Vineyard Series provide additional reasons for rejoicing. Three cheers to Jerry Lohr and Jeff Meier very consistently providing many compelling reasons to drink fine wine often.