The Kenwood Press
News: 08/01/2017

Ledson drops winery plans

Jay Gamel

Steve Ledson said hes dropped expansion plans for his family property between Lawndale and Frey roads, just west of Kenwood. Known as the Cunningham Ranch after his great grandfather who originally purchased over 100 acres in the early 1900s, many residents reacted strongly at the 2008 proposal to install a 50,000-case winery, tasting room, and to host a string of events on the 35-acre site.

Im 65 years old and I want to make my life more simple, Ledson said. That means not starting major projects. He has staked out the property to plant old vine Zinfandel and other heritage varietals, using 19th and 20th Century trellising to present an old-time vineyard, even adopting old-time dry farming methods to drastically cut down on water use.

I want this to look like its 100 years old, he said.

Ledson has developed distinctively styled homes and minor subdivisions throughout Sonoma Valley, but is best known for the enormous Ledson Winery, resembling a castle, on Highway 12 just west of Pythian Road, and for the Ledson Hotel on Sonoma Plaza. He has extensive holdings in Santa Rosa as well as down valley in the City of Sonoma, where he now resides with his immediate family.

Many people immediately noticed that the current planting off of Frey Road covers the area previously slated for the winery project.

He has built one new road with permit to exit and enter from Lawndale Road, and will do the same on Frey Road. These will be gated entrances for vineyard access for workers and vehicles used in the course of business.

Ledson is proud of his family history in Sonoma Valley. At one time, most of what we know as Trione-Annadel State Park was family property. Ledson Marsh reflects that history. While it was initially a man-made lake, it was eventually colonized by the now endangered Red Legged Frog and receives careful maintenance from California Parks.

Since 2008, the winery proposal was expanded, contracted and finally left to languish and quietly expire. There are no plans to revive it.