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Ledge Vineyards was founded by Mark Adams in 2005 after a life in music and sound effects for Sony in Los Angeles. Mark's parents had bought the land in Paso Robles - now called Adams Ranch Vineyards - in the mid-1970s to raise cattle and grow the occasional grain crop. It wasn't until 2005 that Mark decided to plant the first grapes, mostly on sand and clay. The Adams Ranch Vineyard rapidly expanded to include Syrah, Grenache and Mourvédre which was entirely own-rooted. It was largely dry farmed as the baby vines matured, but now the vineyard is a robust 15 acres planted to Syrah, Grenache, Roussanne, Mourvédre, Cinsault and Counoise. The soils are a sandy clay loam, terra rosa, and gravelly rolled stones, and the property literally rests on a sandstone ledge at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, thus the name Ledge Vineyards.
To get some experience, Mark turned to childhood pal Justin Smith, a well-respected winemaker and vineyard consultant who gave him a job working at Saxum and its James Berry Vineyard just a mile from his land. His position at Saxum affords him access to fruit from a lot of unique and heralded vineyard sites. For example he is one of just two producers to work with Zinfandel fruit from the Dusi Vineyard (the other one is Turley). In addition to Adams Ranch, Mark and his wife Ciera currently work with James Berry Vineyard in Willow Creek AVA, Saxum Estate Vineyard and Dante Dusi Vineyard in Templeton Gap AVA, and G2 Vineyard in Willow Creek AVA.
In 2009, Ledge had its first estate harvest of the Adams Ranch Vineyard Syrah, which included a small amount of co-planted Grenache and Mourvedre. In 2010 the first full block of Grenache was planted. It was at this time that the wines began to take on a personality of their own, influenced as much by terroir as by winemaking style. The wines are a bit lower in alcohol than is typical for the area, and have a trademark freshness and complexity due to the sandy soils and neutral oak aging. Always exposed to experimentation at Saxum, Mark began to move toward his own winemaking paradigm, with partial whole-cluster inclusion and wild yeast fermentation. By the time the 2010 and 2011 vintages were in bottle, Ledge wines had carved out a reputation for being uniquely elegant Paso Robles wines, and as some would say, old-world in style!
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