History of Ledge
Mark Adams was raised on a ranch in West Templeton in the Paso Robles Willow Creek District AVA. He and his family raised livestock and grew rotating crops on the 40 acre property which his parents purchased in the 70s. The family grew up with many pioneering grape farmers in the area, especially the Dusi and Smith families. Terry and Pebble Smith planted the James Berry Vineyard with their son Justin in the 80s. Adams became childhood friends with Justin and they remained close throughout their college years. When Smith was finishing up at Cal Poly, Adams was starting at Chico State. They stayed in touch and Smith exposed Adams to the earliest incarnations of homemade JBV red wines. As James Berry Vineyard grapes became more famous, Adams was hip to their growth, from the earliest Wild Horse JBV wines to Smith's development as a vigneron. These experiences were the beginning of a life-long love affair with Rhône varietals and the Paso Robles wine growing region.
As a musician and cinema student in college, Adams went on to write original music and edit sound for film and television, ultimately landing at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. He toured with several music groups and was consistently in restaurants and bars, further exposing him to the world of wine. The film industry took him to the south of France, where he was exposed to the wonderful wines of the Rhône on repeated visits to the Cannes film festival. Musical tours of Europe enlightened Adams to the fact that many Europeans made small batches of wine for personal consumption in their homes. Through all of this, his heart was never far from Templeton, and a seed was planted to grow wine grapes on the family property. He visited home regularly hoping to find an opportunity to return and farm the property again. That opportunity began to present itself in the early 2000’s when Saxum was taking flight. Adams was the first cellar rat for Justin Smith at Saxum and soon after planted 4 acres of own rooted Estrella Clone Syrah on the Adams Ranch. These vines were all propagated from cuttings off the Bone Rock terraces at James Berry Vineyard.
Adams married opera singer Ciera Lamborn in 2006. She became a huge asset to the vineyard, helping plant the vines and run what would become a successful winery business. They furthered their exploration of Rhône varietals by attending Decouvertes en Valèe du Rhône, Printemps de Chateauneuf du Pape and they became regulars at the world's largest celebration of Rhône varietals, Hospice du Rhône in Paso Robles, eventually showcasing their own wines there every year. In 2009 Ledge Vineyards bottled their first estate wine which was 100% Syrah.
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 comprised of Syrah, Grenache, Roussanne, Mourvédre, Cinsaut 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.
Ledge Vineyards has been experimental since its inception and stylistically different than neighboring producers, and is ultimately designed to be field-blended to deliver one red wine and one white wine each year.With sandier soils, the estate wines lend themselves to neutral oak, whole cluster inclusion and co-fermentation rather than new oak, extraction and numerous blending trials.
Starting in 2018 Ledge has narrowed their focus to three vineyard designate wines consisting entirely of Rhône varietals: Adams Ranch, James Berry Vineyard and Bien Nacido. Ledge produces between 1,000 and 1500 cases of wine per year.
While Adams is no longer officially employed at Saxum, he remains fiercely loyal to his roots, and lends a hand whenever he is called upon. Ledge wines continue to be produced at the Saxum caves and Adams remains a huge admirer of the wines.