Last July, we blogged about our Employee Garden, a special place we created just across the driveway from our J. Lohr Paso Robles Wine Center. The garden has become a serene little hideaway and social nexus for our Paso employees, and a place for them to grow some delicious fruits and vegetables. But what the garden has been missing is a big, welcoming table to go beneath the lovely wood pergola.
Recently, when J. Lohr acquired a property in Greenfield with an older building on the site, Director of Winemaking Jeff Meier noticed that there was some great old timber in the structure. A hobbyist woodworker, Jeff had the inspired idea that we could reclaim the wood and use it to create a table to go beneath the Employee Garden pergola. Jeff reached out to our good friend, Paul Kirchner, who has been our official J. Lohr photographer since 2006. Paul is a sensitive and perceptive photographer, who has the gift of capturing images that tell a story and transport the viewer. He is also a furniture maker, with an artisan’s sense of detail and design.
Paul picking up the reclaimed lumber in Greenfield
Jeff and Steve Lohr gave Paul some basic specifications, and after visiting Paul’s studio to sign off on his initial drawings, Paul got to work. Though Paul had originally intended to use metal to hold the joints, after he picked up the lumber, his design for the table evolved and he decided to make the table using traditional joints. As Paul describes the table, it is “an outdoor piece of furniture, with indoor furniture joints.” Paul calls it a “glorified picnic table,” but you can see the craftsmanship in the beautiful angles, and in every detail of the mortise and tenon joint work. Paul finished the table with a rough sanding and added oil to even out the tones of the wood so that it works with the existing pergola.
At 16’ feet in length, the table weighs about 500 pounds, with the top alone weighing roughly 300 pounds. In fact, as heavy as it was, Paul didn’t put the top on the table until it was placed in its final home under the pergola, and when he did, it took four people to lift it. All told, Paul spent about a month and a half building the table. It’s not every business that would invest that much time and energy into the creation of an outdoor table that’s primarily for employees. In a way, Paul’s table touches on a number of ideas that guide our winery: that we should preserve, reuse and reclaim wherever we can; that craft matters—if you are going to do something, do it as well as you can; that quality is the sum total of many small decisions and tiny, yet important details; and, finally, that happy employees who know they are valued, grow and make better wine.
“Paul’s lens on the world is undeniably driven by the highest level of craftsmanship,” says VP Marketing Cynthia Lohr. “He has this ability to transform raw physical ingredients, as well as his product and landscape photography, into timeless, commemorative pieces that always take your breath away. He’s also an inspired writer and humble, authentic soul. He’s become a beloved resource and friend to many of us on the J. Lohr team for his inimitable style, and we are all the more fortunate for his talents.”
The table is already a hit with our team, who love to eat lunch at it, or take breaks from their gardening as they rest in the shade of the pergola.
Thanks for the amazing table, Paul!
See additional photos and read more about the table from the maker himself on Paul’s blog