Jerry’s roots begin in South Dakota, where he grew up on what would now be considered an organic farm. Today, he has taken the philosophy of sustainability that he learned as a youngster and built J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, a successful enterprise that sells its products across the United States and in more than 25 countries worldwide. “I’m a firm believer that success can only be achieved if you take care of your resources – the earth, people and your community.”
It is this belief that influenced Lohr’s philanthropy at UC Davis. He has been a key contributor in the design, planning, and fundraising efforts for UC Davis’ winery, brewery and food processing teaching and research complex in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
“I give to UC Davis because I think supporting high-caliber institutions of higher education like UC Davis is important for ensuring a prosperous future for California,” Lohr said. “I believe in the innovative work that the faculty, staff and students at UC Davis are doing and by supporting them I feel like I am being a good steward for future generations.”
Ria de Grassi is a double alum of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, having earned her B.S in agricultural science and management and M.S. in animal science. But her UC Davis education began years before she ever set foot on campus as a student. Ria grew up on a farm near Ukiah where she learned the rhythms of nature while raising live-stock and observing wildlife in the surrounding hills and streams.
As a youth, de Grassi had access to several UC Davis influencers, including county Cooperative Extension farm advisors through her 4-H projects, a veterinarian/employer who took her on farm visits, and, of course, her father who was also a UC Davis alum. “All that exposure to the educational value of the university made UC Davis my logical choice,” she says.
de Grassi, a representative of the California Farm Bureau Federation, is as devoted to her alma mater as she is committed to keeping science front and center in the development of food and agriculture policy. “My most treasured possession is my education,” she says. “I believe in giving back through volunteer work and philanthropy to ensure that the wonder of UC Davis is going to be there – not just tomorrow, but also for the next generation.”
The Civic Garden Club of San Carlos believes in UC Davis students. “Our club has a long history of providing scholarships for young people interested in learning about horticulture,” said Janice Fager, the club’s president. “With its premier programs in plant sciences, UC Davis has always been one of the educational institutions we are most eager to support.”
About 30 members of the group traveled from the Bay Area in November 2012 to meet with scholarship recipients and tour the UC Davis Arboretum. They gathered in Nature’s Gallery Court, adjacent to the Ruth Storer Garden. Nature’s Gallery is an arched wall with embedded mosaic tiles depicting the flora and fauna of the arboretum. It was constructed by undergraduate students and community members as a project of the Art/Science Fusion Program.
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences hosted a luncheon to show its appreciation for the club’s current and planned support to the university. Campus speakers presented information about the Gardens, Arts and the Environment Project, which connects the arboretum to academic departments, and about the Arboretum All-Stars program of recommended plants for California gardens.
“Philanthropy makes such a huge difference to the campus and to the students we serve,” said Mike Tentis, a CA&ES development officer. “Scholarships provide access to higher education. They are a deciding factor when a student selects a university and, indeed, can influence what a student chooses to study while on campus.”
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On May 7, 2014, over 75 people came together in J. Lohr Fermentation Hall of the new LEED Platinum Teaching and Research Winery in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis to celebrate the unveiling of the fourteen 500 gallon fermentors. “What a treat to share wine and food with such an illustrious group,” said Rob Davis of Jordan Vineyard & Winery. The 500-gallon tanks, designed by Professor and Chair David Block and Winemaker Chik Brenneman, have been named by or for California’s pioneering wine families through their generous donations, totaling some $700,000. These individuals, families and wine industry partners, along with several faculty and staff from the Department of Viticulture and Enology and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, were regaled with wine from many of the donors’ own vintages as each fermentor was unveiled, in turn.
UC Davis would like to thank the donors who have supported the winery in this meaningful way:
- Beaulieu Vineyard, in memory of André Tchelistcheff
- Bart and Daphne Araujo
- Cakebread Cellars
- Peter Mondavi, Sr., and Charles Krug Winery
- Far Niente Winery
- Heitz Cellar
- J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
- Jordan Vineyard & Winery
- Opus One
- Paul Hobbs Winery
- Ramey Wine Cellars
- Trefethen family
- Wente family
- Winiarski Family Foundation
The Department of Viticulture and Enology Teaching and Research Winery, which was the first building at UC Davis to be constructed entirely through private funding, is the world’s most sustainable and most advanced facility for making wine. The installation of the 14 fermentors, which happened in early 2014, supports that mission, such as having the capability for using clean-in-place (CIP) technology—which will significantly reduce water and chemical use.
Block commented that “his hope for these new fermentors is that they are as pioneering for the wine industry as the families for which they are named.”
“I have to come back just so somebody can explain all the gismos that are featured on every tank. Truly the fermentation room is state of the art,” said Jordan’s Rob Davis. “Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of such an incredible program,” continues Davis. No, Rob, thank you!