Credit: Carolyne Sysmans

Designs for the new JUSTIN and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture are complete and construction is expected to begin within the next two months.

“It’s going to be the best thing that Cal Poly can do for this program,” enology lecturer and Pilot Winery Manager Jim Shumate said.

The center is named after JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery and J. Lohr Vineyards following the donation of $2.5 million from each owner to Cal Poly’s campaign to build a new space for the Wine and Viticulture program.

According to director of communications & strategic initiatives for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science (CAFES) Haley Marconett, the college has raised about 75 percent of the total $20 million projected cost. The project is funded by private donations, so the college is contacting other potential donors offering naming rights for tanks, barrel rooms and fermentation labs to finish off fundraising for the project.

The new center will include two buildings located on Mount Bishop Road between the crops unit and the H-1 parking lot on Cal Poly’s campus. A 15,600-square-foot winery with a fermentation hall, bottling room, barrel rooms and a research lab will be built first, followed by a 12,000-square-foot grange hall. The grange hall will house a space for industry and community events, viticulture and enology labs and offices for faculty and students.

An additional building has been proposed to follow the completion of the winery and grange hall but has not been publicly announced.

“Adding this facility is going to make the program so much better because the students are going to get real world applications,” Shumate said. “We will now have the room to produce three different types of wine in this facility.”

“We will now have the room to produce three different types of wine in this facility”

The Wine and Viticulture Program in CAFES currently has a 14-acre vineyard and small winery used for teaching and providing students with a hands-on-experience.

Currently all Cal Poly-labeled wine is produced at Chamisal Vineyards off-campus because there is not enough room in the pilot winery. Only research wine and wine made during wine and viticulture classes are produced at the pilot winery.

According to Shumate, the new facility will allow for the production and bottling of three types of wine: Cal Poly-labeled wine, student-made wine and research wine.

The 14-acre winery will still be used for fruit production in addition to the new winery.

The center was originally scheduled to open in Fall 2019, but the opening has been pushed back due to building-plan-approval wait times and permit timing. The winery is anticipated to be complete in late Summer 2020 with the grange hall following shortly after, but no specific dates have been released.

Cal Poly is partnering with TLCD Architecture, Von Raesfeld and JW Design & Construction to complete the project.

“I know there are a lot of classes that use the current vineyards, so this new center will give us more space,” wine and viticulture sophomore CJ Cole said. “Right now, not a lot of people are usually down there hanging out, but if we got a new space it could change that.”

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