Jim Ledbetter is a graduate from Fresno State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He got his first introduction to winegrape growing in the early 1970’s when he took a break from college to help his father, Keith Ledbetter, plant 1,200 acres of winegrapes in Lodi. Immediately after graduation from Fresno State, Jim joined his father and went to work for the family business.
“I am very honored and humbled to have been selected by my peers for this prestigious award,” said Jim. “I have enjoyed giving back to Sonoma County throughout my career and will continue to do so.”
The Lodi region is where the family began growing, and on April 1, 1976 officially expanded the business to Sonoma County. Working first with his father and then his brother, John; Jim helped Vino Farms develop and grow into the successful vineyard management business it is today. Vino Farms manages and owns vineyards throughout the state including Sonoma, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Yolo, Napa, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties. Vino Farms grows more than a dozen different winegrape varieties and sells to nearly 150 wineries throughout California. They employ approximately 150 full-time employees and 450 seasonal employees.
Jim has been actively involved in wine and grape growing organizations his entire career and is a respected leader in the industry. He has held leadership roles as the Past Vice Chair and Director of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (1993-2003); Past President and Director of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association; Director of the American Vineyard Foundation; Director of the PD/GWSS Board, and a number of other winegrape industry organizations.
Jim will celebrate 40 years of marriage next month to his wife Jeanne. They have three daughters, Marissa, Courtney and Megan; three son-in-laws (Brian, Bill, Brandon), and 7 grandchildren (Kendra – 16, Billy – 6, Blair – 5, James – 4, Brett – 3, Everly – 2, Ellie – 1.5). In Jim’s spare time, he enjoys spending time at his beach house in Cayucos, spending time with family and grandkids, and with the friends that have become family through the wine industry.