MEET OUR PEOPLE
Vino Farms, LLC / Grower
WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?
I was born in Whittier, California, and moved to Delano, California in 1948 where I grew up on a four-hundred-acre farm.
HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY BEEN FARMING WINEGRAPES?
Our family has been farming winegrapes for 75 years. I’ve been farming winegrapes for 50 years.
HOW MANY ACRES DO YOU FARM AND HOW MANY VARIETIES DO YOU GROW?
We farm between 20 to 30 varieties on roughly 16,000 acres of vineyards.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT LODI?
Our farming and winey community consists of real, down-to-earth people who work very hard and are not afraid to try something new. We are risk-takers and strive to grow the highest quality winegrapes possible.
HOW HAS THE LODI WINE REGION CHANGED OVER THE YEARS OR SINCE YOU’VE BEEN HERE?
Today, Lodi is known for being progressive as well as a world leader in sustainable farming. Thirty years ago, I had the privilege of being one of many winegrowers who paved the way for the Lodi Winegrape Commission. At the time, we knew that – without it – Lodi had no long-term future. The region was a well-kept secret with only a handful of big wineries realizing the quality of Lodi winegrapes. That changed with the start of the Commission and its promotions. Promotion of Lodi winegrapes and wines brought competition, rising prices, and large plantings of premium varietals to the region. Lodi has gone from being the Tokay capital of the world to the largest source of premium grapes in the United States.
WHO HAS BEEN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MENTOR IN YOUR CAREER?
My father, Keith Ledbetter. I wish he was still around; I have lots of questions to which I know he’d know the answer.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I’m somewhat shy in a big group of people, and I don’t know why. That, and I believe grandkids are the reason for life. They make it fun and interesting!
DO YOU HAVE ANY IRRATIONAL FEARS OR SUPERSTITIONS AS THEY RELATE TO YOUR JOB?