BEST AND BRIGHTEST COMPANY TO WORK FOR

One of Sonoma County’s top destinations and home to some of the region’s highest-scoring wines, Ledson Winery & Vineyards has been named one of “San Francisco Bay Area’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” Winners.

According to The Best and Brightest, “Every year companies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area compete to be named one of “San Francisco Bay Area’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.” Only companies that distinguish themselves as having the most innovative and thoughtful human resources approach can be bestowed this honor. These select companies will be recognized by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR) on Friday, November 15th at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront.

This year’s winners represent best practices in industries as diverse as financial technology, medical, cybersecurity and non-for-profit.

An independent research firm evaluates each company’s entry, based on key measures in various categories. They include: Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions, Employee Enrichment, Engagement and Retention; Employee Education and Development; Recruitment, Selection and Orientation, Employee Achievement and Recognition; Communication and Shared Vision, Diversity and Inclusion, Work-Life Balance, Community Initiatives, and Strategic Company Performance.“

Ledson Winery and Vineyards was also selected recently this year as one of the North Bay Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work.”

Precision Viticulture

In 2004, Steve Ledson asked Daniel Roberts, a soil scientist, to consult for him on all viticulture for his 200 acres of vineyards. Daniel reworks old vineyards using modern techniques to make them more productive and improve wine quality. He holds a doctorate in soil science and is one of California’s leading vineyard consultants. He works for exclusive vineyard owners willing to spare no cost to make the highest-quality wine. His company, Integrated Winegrowing, practices precision viticulture based on lessons learned and technology developed over the decades.

In December 2012 Steve asked Daniel to take a look at a property in the Moon Mountain Viticulture District called Mountain Terraces Vineyard, a 120-acre property with 65 acres mostly planted to Cabernet Sauvignon that he was considering purchasing.

Daniel Roberts’ Analysis of Mountain Terraces Vineyard

1.0 Temperature

The popular pronouncement about a region’s “warm days and cool nights” is not necessarily describing an ideal situation, though if a region has warm or hot days, cool nights are essential to prevent rapid acid metabolism in the fruit during ripening. A climate with warm/hot days and cool nights produces a different wine style than a climate with similar heat summation units having warm days and relatively warm nights (figure 1.0). A Climate with warm days and cools nights produces a different wine style then a climate with similar heat summation units having warm days and relatively warm nights like Mountain Terraces.

Average Diurnal Temperature Veraison to Harvest
Figure 1.0: From veraison to harvest, average diurnal temperature change for valley floor (sea level), middle mountain (1000 ft) and mountain top (2000 ft).


When nighttime temperatures drop down to or below 50F, berry respiration slows or stops as does the ripening process. When night temperatures hover somewhere above 50F ripening continues into the night hours. Assuming that the daytime temperatures approach optimum temperatures for ripening, the smaller diurnal temperature swings generally produce fruit maturity more quickly than climates with larger diurnal fluctuations, relative to sugar accumulation. That is because sugar production only occurs during daylight hours, as it requires sunlight.

Hence, for any given grape variety, climates with smaller diurnal temperature swings generally ripen fruit at lower sugar concentrations than do climates with large diurnal temperature swings. Vineyard sites with smaller diurnal fluctuations allow the grape growers or winemakers to have more latitude about when the fruit is harvested, since they will not consistently be considering harvest when fruit has begun to collapse due to excessive sugar content. Sugar (Brix) is a false indicator of true ripeness, at Mountain Terraces due to the smaller diurnal temperature swings, fruit is allowed to reach true ripeness before the fruit collapses due to high sugar content (Brix) and be forced to pick before optimal Ripeness.

2.0 Soils

In general, mountain soils develop from rock. In the Moon Mountain AVA, many of the soils develop from volcanic rock such as Andesite, Basalt and Rhyolite. These soils are well drained and have very little nutrient content. Soils derived from Rhyolite, however, can be very high in potassium (figure 2.0).

Figure 2.0.  Soil derived from Rhyolite on Mountain Terraces, Moon Mountain AVA.  The grayish white material is the Rhyolite.
Figure 2.0. Soil derived from Rhyolite on Mountain Terraces, Moon Mountain AVA. The grayish white material is the Rhyolite.

At Mountain Terraces sufficient soil analysis were done to determine soil variation as to the amount and depth to the volcanic ash. The soil determines rootstock and in soils derived from volcanic ash, 420A rootstock is the best option. The high potassium content of the soil can influence a wines pH and 420A rootstock does not take in the excess soil potassium.

3.0 Mountain Terraces

We have discussed two aspects of Terroir, climate (temperature) and soils. The third aspect which many wine writers ignore is human. You can purchase the perfect site in terms of climate and soil, but still ruin the site by poor decisions in planting.

When Ledson Winery purchased the Mountain Terraces property, the vineyards were a mess. The fruit was good due to the climate and the soil but we knew the fruit could be improved through more attention to the detail of pruning, irrigation and fertigation. Years and many thousands of dollars later, the wine coming from the original vineyards is vastly improved. A serious replanting program has been started with better rootstocks, Cabernet Sauvignon clones, and attention to row direction (figures 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2). The wines coming from the new planting are exceptional.

The vines are planted at 6 ft between the rows and 4 ft between the vines pruned to two canes (double guyot) and the row direction is North to South.

 Figure 3.0. Newly planted vines on Mountain Terraces.

Figure 3.0. Newly planted vines on Mountain Terraces.

Figure 3.1.  New Vines training on Mountain Terraces.
Figure 3.1. New Vines training on Mountain Terraces.

Figure 3.2. Mountain Terraces new vineyard, second crop.
Figure 3.2. Mountain Terraces new vineyard, second crop.

4.0 Summary

Mountain Terraces is unique due to climate, soil and management. The human factor, management, is actually just as important as climate and soil. The French word vigneron refers to a family that farms the grapes and makes the wine, which certainly is apropos for Steve Ledson.

Steve Ledson’s unrelenting quest for perfection is very prominent at Mountain Terraces Vineyard and is proven in every bottle of wine from this incredible vineyard site.

How To Make A (World Class) Vineyard

Mountain TerracesIn 2012, Steve Ledson bought the 200-acre “Mountain Terraces” ranch on Cavedale, situated in the prestigious new Moon Mountain AVA at up to 2,000 feet above the Valley floor. The vineyards were already planted with 65 acres of Cabernet and a few other varietals, all of it pretty run down. The vines were stressed and the irrigation and trellising was falling apart.

In an article published by Valley of the Moon you can learn how Steve Ledson turned this run down property into a world-class vineyard and what it takes to make world-class wines. You can read the article in the September 2019 magazine at http://vommag.com/ or download the PDF-version.

Best Places To Work

Best Places To Work WinnerOne of Sonoma County’s top destinations and home to some of the region’s highest-scoring wines, Ledson Winery & Vineyards has been selected as one of the North Bay Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work.”

“This is a great honor for our company and for me personally,” said winemaker and founder Steve Ledson. “We are proud of our team who come to work every day committed to ensuring a great experience for our customers and their fellow workmates.”

According to the North Bay Business Journal, the selection process was rigorous. The publication explained: “The 109 organizations selected were analyzed by the editorial staff of the Business Journal on the basis of several criteria, including the employer application, survey ratings by employees, number of responses, size of the company, breakdown of responses from management and non-management, and written comments by employees.”

The awards are presented by the Business Journal, the Nelson Family of Companies, Exchange Bank, Kaiser Permanente, and underwritten by Trope Group. Ledson Winery & Vineyards will be recognized along with other winners at a reception on Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country. Look for profiles of Ledson and other winners in a September issue of the Business Journal.

Private Barrel Tasting (Wine Club Members Only)

Saturday, June 1, 2019 | 6:30PM–9:30PM

 

Please join Amy, Steve and our entire team at the Castle as we celebrate our 20th annual barrel tasting.  This will be one to remember!

 

As you’re probably aware, we have received numerous scores 95 and above in the last few months and the wines featured this evening will rate no different.  Promising to be a most spectacular evening as we watch the sunset against the Castle, mingle with friends and loved ones, and sip on impeccable wines paired with tantalizing gourmet hors d’oeuvres.  Don’t miss out on this opportunity to savor a selection of rare, impeccable wines at amazing prices this evening only.  Friends, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Complimentary for wine club members. Additional guests $50/person

 

RSVP 707.537.3823 or hospitality@ledson.com

Harvest Celebration

Saturday, September 28, 2019 | 6:30PM–9:30PM

Club Member: $40  | General: $60


Dear Friends,

There’s no better time to visit wine country than during harvest to experience the convivial spirit surrounding the season. Join us at the Ledson Castle for a great evening of sipping and socializing as we celebrate the 2019 harvest and toast all the people behind it.

Enjoy award-winning wines as you stroll through our oak-studded grounds surrounded by the gorgeous colors of fall abundant in the vineyard.  Each wine will be perfectly paired with scrumptious appetizers.

2017 Sonoma Valley ‘Little Horse Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc
Oysters on the half shell, lemons, cocktail sauce & mignonette

2017 Sonoma Coast ‘Grove Estate Vineyard’ Pinot Noir
96 Points/Gold Medal – 2019 California State Fair
Wood-Fired Mushroom Flatbread

2016 Sonoma Valley ‘Estate Vineyard’ Mes Trois Amours
95 Points/Platinum Medal/Best Rhone Blend – 2019 Critic’s Challenge
Saffron Paella, chorizo, shrimp, clams, mussels, soffrito & peas

2016 Sonoma Valley ‘Estate Vineyard’ Cepage
Beef Shawarma, grilled naan bread, tzatziki, salsa verde, fresh tomatoes & pickled red onions

2016 Napa Valley ‘Stagecoach Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2015 vintage received 98 Points, Best of Show, Best of Class and Platinum Medal at the 2019 Winemaker Challenge Intl. Wine Competition; we expect the 2016 vintage to exceed this.
Redwood Valley ‘Ricetti Lane’ Port-Style Late Harvest Zinfandel
96 Points/Best of Class/Double Gold Medal – Sonoma Intl. Film Festival Wine Awards
Dark Chocolate Torte


You’ll be among the first to taste incredible new released wines and take advantage of the special preferred pricing that will be offered during this evening.

Mingle and chat with our winemaking team to learn firsthand about our harvest practices and what it takes to make such unique wines.

You’ll not only leave with great memories and new friends, but also a newfound appreciation for all the hard work that goes into producing our hand-crafted wines.

$40/person for wine club members and $60/person for non-wine club members. RSVP to 707.537.3823 or hospitality@ledson.com.

Corvettes at the Castle

Saturday, October 19, 2019 | 10AM–4PM

 

Enjoy a lovely afternoon and view stunning classic Corvettes lined up along the magnificent circular driveway in front of the Ledson Castle. Create your picnic with delicious food from the Gourmet Marketplace and taste award-winning wines under the majestic oak trees.

Meeting Antonio Galloni

Another very special day in our beautiful Sonoma Valley

 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of finally meeting perhaps one of the most world-renowned wine critics of our time, Mr. Antonio Galloni and his partner Alessandro Masnaghetti (Italian Cartographer) at our family ranch in Kenwood, CA.

 

I was very excited to finally meet Antonio; however, slightly nervous as you never know what a man’s personality can be like. He is someone highly regarded for his amazing palate, ability to taste so many wines at once, and truly analyze them accurately time and time again as well as for his incredible talents as a wine writer. I was asking myself: “will he be approachable?”; “will he really listen?” and does he really care about our family’s history that brought us to where we are today as well as the other great families that have contributed to the recognition Sonoma Valley has gained as one of the great wine regions of the world?”

 

Well, from the moment Antonio and Alessandro stepped out of the car, I knew I had just met two amazing men, the complete opposites of pretentiousness. Antonio stepped out of the car with a big smile and said, “Steve Ledson? Antonio Galloni” as he extended his hand and gave me a firm handshake and then his partner said, “Steve? Alessandro Masnaghetti, it’s a pleasure to meet you!”

 

Antonio immediately picked up on our old gas station with the 1929 Model A flatbed truck sitting at the gas pumps. Antonio started clicking off pictures with his phone saying “this is so cool” as he continued to glance around. He then saw the old barn and asked how old it was? I said, “about 170 years old.” “Wow! Amazing!” he replied.

 

1929 Model A flatbed

 

We then strolled over to the carriage house where Great Grandpa used to store his old cars throughout his life, and where we now keep our special old tractors that remind us of so many great times growing up and working on the ranch.

 

 

Antonio again started snapping pictures of the three old tractors there, a 1948 Ford 8N, a 1951 Ford 8N, and a 1936 Twenty-Two Caterpillar, asking: “What year is this one?, what year is that one?, and what about this one?” I said, “Antonio, you seem so passionate about all of the old buildings and tractors, where does that come from?” He said, “Well, I have always loved history, I find it very exciting.” This in turn invigorated me as I have been the historian in my family beginning as a little boy always asking my Dad, “how are we related to them, or whose old car was that Dad, or when did Grandpa purchase this ranch?” I have researched our family history back to the early 1700’s with some information dating back to the year 1000. The halls of our tasting room, known as “The Castle”, are lined with family pictures telling a story of our family over the last 150 years, a lot of it here in the Sonoma Valley. So, you can image how excited I was sharing our family history with Antonio who exhibited the same passion for history as I do. Not many people today care much about history; it is just not important to them.

 

 

We then made our way over to the shop where we have my cousin Clifford Rich’s 1957 Studebaker Flatbed truck. Antoni again started taking pictures inside and out, asking lots of questions like “whose truck was this?”, how are you related?, etc.”

 

1957 Studebaker Flatbed truck

 

There in the middle of our shop where Great Grandpa and so many of our family worked and shared life stories and experiences, Antonio and Alessandro laid out a map they had put together of the entire Sonoma Valley on the bed of the old truck and proceeded to go through our family history and properties with me piece by piece, property by property, beginning with the turn of the century, asking me many, many questions. They asked me about different ownerships of land here in the Sonoma Valley, checking the accuracy of their mapping, and re-confirming all of our Sonoma Valley vineyards as well as other family’s vineyards.

 

My curiosity got the best of me and I needed to know more about why Antonio was doing this mapping project of our Sonoma Valley. He told me that he has mapped different vineyard regions throughout the world, most recently in Napa Valley. He went on to say that when he is asked to judge a wine or write about a wine, he feels like he needs to know more about the vineyard, its location, the history of the vineyard, and much more. He starts with mapping the area and then gathers a little history of the region. I asked, “Why you are devoting so much time to Sonoma Valley? There are so many other wine regions in the world.” Antonio said, “Sonoma Valley is very special to me, it offers a lot of interesting history, amazing vineyards, great people, and some talented winemakers producing outstanding wines.”

 

 

Each and every one of us here in our beautiful little Sonoma Valley should be extremely proud and grateful that Antonio has taken on this project. Now that I have met him and see the passion he has not only for history in general, but for our Sonoma Valley, I don’t think there could be a better person to bring our valley to the forefront by showing the amazing viticulture going on today and for years to come.

 

I want to thank Antonio for all of his time and hard work putting together this incredible map and for recognizing Sonoma Valley as one of the greatest wine regions of the world. A very special thanks as well to Maureen Cottingham, Executive Director of The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance for making this happen. Maureen was aware of the mapping Antonio did in the Napa Valley so she looked into the outcome of that project and the quality of Antonio’s work and was extremely impressed with what she saw. She then reached out to him to see if she could interest him in mapping our Sonoma Valley.

 

Thanks again, Maureen!

 

Steve Ledson