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Gold Medal Wine Club
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5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
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Ledgewood Creek - Suisun Valley


Suisun Valley, the hot new neighborhood for California wine

When Dean Frisbie left his home state of Kansas and headed to California over forty years ago, he had little inkling that his future would one day be tied to the California wine industry.

After receiving a pair of degrees from Kansas University (Engineering and Law), Frisbie came west as an assignment for his then employer Chevron Oil. He settled in Northern California’s Bay Area and soon met another transplant, his future wife Bunny, who was originally from Massachusetts. The couple married in 1969 and set about raising a family. During the time, Dean changed professions and ultimately wound up selling commercial real estate developments.

Nearly twenty years later, Dean Frisbie acquired the family’s first piece of agricultural land, a massive 145-acre plot in Suisun Valley that was planted in pears. When the prices for pears plummeted two years later, a neighbor who managed vineyards offered to help Frisbie replant his existing groves. Suisun Valley’s nearby location to Napa Valley (due east seven miles) made the move seem plausible and the transition was begun. Since that time, additional parcels of land have been added to the Frisbie fold. The family’s acreage presently totals around 400, with about 300 presently under vine. All their early fruit was sold to Sebastiani Vineyards, but various new contracts have been signed with Clos du Bois, Domain Chandon, Beringer and others.

As these long-term contracts neared fruition, Dean Frisbie sought another business outlet to hedge his family’s position in the industry. The wine industry was at a peak and the idea of opening a family winery was advanced. After much consideration, Ledgewood Creek was founded and its first wines were released in 2001.

“I looked around at what was happening,” remarked Frisbie, “and saw a great deal of growth in just about every region. My family was basically growers and we were really successful at what we did. Since Suisun Valley wasn’t on everyone’s must have list, I guess I was taking a chance starting the winery. I liked the fact that Suisun Valley had its own appellation (since 1981) and I thought the new winery gave us a really good hedge against future problems. I felt I needed to create a permanent home for our grapes and the winery seemed like the right thing to do.” Since the family sold around 90% of its grape production, Ledgewood Creek’s initial release of 2,200 cases was literally a drop in its proverbial wine bucket. Added to the fact that the new winery was only the second winery in Suisun Valley, it was gratifying to everyone that Ledgewood Creek’s wines began drawing support from around the area and elsewhere in the state. Production has grown steadily and will hit 24,000 cases this year, 2012. The winery and visitor’s center which were built in 2002 offer a place for events, weddings, tastings, and of course, making the Ledgewood Creek wines. The complex now produces an amazing number (thirteen) of varietals.

Dean Frisbie is now 82, and continues as the day-to-day acting general manager. He has assembled a first class team to take Ledgewood Creek into its promising future. The staff includes one of Frisbie’s sons, James, and an outstanding outside cast. Consulting winemaker Larry Langbehn brings with him some imposing credentials including a stint with heralded Napa icon winery Freemark Abbey.

The future certainly looks bright for Ledgewood Creek and its family of fine wines. Dean Frisbie’s dream of a producing winery in Suisun Valley is a reality and also a critical success. We predict you will hear a great deal more from Ledgewood Creek in the future.


  1. Ledgewood Creek
    2009 Proprietary Red Blend
    Ledgewood Creek
    GSM - Estate
    Napa Valley

    $19.00

    $22.00
    Multiple Gold Medals
    id: 1106
    Special
    Gold
  2. Ledgewood Creek
    2010 Chardonnay
    Ledgewood Creek
    Three Clone - Estate
    Napa Valley

    $7.99

    Was $16.00
    $18.00
    Multiple Gold Medals
    id: 1107
    Special
    Gold

Larry Langbehn - Ledgewood Creek’s winemaker

‘When I first started working with Ledgewood Creek in 2002, I discovered the highest diversity of unusually excellent quality grapes that I’ve seen in the last 15 years,” says Ledgewood Creek’s winemaker, Larry Langbehn. Larry has been making wines around the world for over thirty years and brings a unique talent to his work at Ledgewood Creek. In addition to being a consultant winemaker in California, Larry has managed his own family winery, worked with winemakers in Eastern Europe and China, and even did a stint as a vinegar maker. His experience has made him one of the most valuable winemakers in northern California today and Ledgewood Creek is happy he found a home with their team.

James Frisbie

James Frisbie was a graduate of Pepperdine University in Southern California in 1993, working on the staff of California’s Senator Diane Feinstein. Even though he had majored in Political Science and Spanish, he decided to try a career as a securities broker after a year on Senator’s Feinstein’s staff.

‘Everything was going great until the securities company I was joining decided to merge with another firm,” James Frisbie recently recalled. ‘When the announcements were made, a number of us were told our jobs were being abolished even before we got started. I wasn’t at all prepared for such a happening and didn’t know what I was going to do.” James immediately called his father Dean, who accepted the news in a most positive manner. He invited his son to come home and join his efforts to expand the family’s growing base of vineyards.

‘It all seemed a little weird to me,” James Frisbie continued. ‘I had never studied oenology or anything remotely connected to it. What happened was truly fortunate. At that precise time, my Dad was at a point in the evolution of our business where he wanted to change the method of selling our grapes. Up to that time, we had sold everything to Sebastiani. Dad wanted us to find new wineries and spread our base of supply. It was a really natural fit and for the next couple of years I was able to attract a number of top wineries to sign long term contracts for our fruit.” Today, James serves as the company’s sales and marketing director as well as the all-important harvest manager each and every vintage.

‘We’re not too keen on titles around here,” he confided. ‘Since none of our family was trained professionally in the wine business, it was critical that we find some real professionals to help us achieve our goals. Our team here is really first rate and capable of future growth.” James also admits that he wasn’t completely sold on the prospects of building a new winery when the project was first proposed. He felt that he had his hands full with his duties as vineyards and harvest manager and that he really didn’t have the specific knowledge to make the proposed winery successful.

‘What my Dad was trying to do was quite simple,” James Frisbie further explained. ‘He was simply trying to protect what we had built up over the years. Our ten-year contracts with some of our grape customers were coming to an end and the wine business was going through one of its softer periods. In the end it was ultimately Dad’s decision. In retrospect, the decision to build Ledgewood Creek Winery was one of the best business decisions that could be made.” James Frisbie is atypical of many modern winery executives in that he is completely self-taught. He has learned the wine business from the grass roots up and is proud of his family’s accomplishments thus far.

‘When you consider that Suisun Valley is a real newcomer to the wine industry, I think we have really come a long way,” he added. ‘When we started here, the Suisun Valley Appellation was brand new, and we were only the second winery to be built. Today, there are a dozen wineries located in our valley and consumers have begun to take notice. Our wines have done quite well in competitions against some of the finest wineries in the state, and that speaks well as to our quality achievements.” Frisbie has come a long way since his days as an intern on a US senator’s staff. He appreciates his position within his family’s growing business and realizes there is much work ahead to continue Ledgewood Creek Winery’s continued expansion.

We are betting that James Frisbie and the Ledgewood Creek staff are more than up to the job. Enjoy!

About The Region

Ledgewood Creek Winery is located in the rustic Suisun Valley where a mix of vineyards, orchards, crops and grazing cattle surround just a dozen or so working wineries. Suisun, pronounced Sue Soon, is an Indian word meaning West Wind and is in reference to the winds that cool the Valley and make it an ideal environment for vineyards. Nestled by rolling hills to the west and north, Suisun Valley vineyards have quietly thrived in the secluded region since the mid 1800s. The Suisun Valley is just eight miles long and three miles wide, with an estimated 3,000 acres planted to vines. The cool climate region is similar to nearby Carneros, but without the fog, it offers much more diversity of wine grape varietals. Although the Suisun Valley has been an official American Viticultural Area for thirty years, it wasn’t until recent years that the wineries become more widely known and truly began to flourish. With Ledgewood Creek Winery leading the pack, Suisun Valley is now on the map in a big way.


Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts


Ingredients

3-4 Large Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Tablespoon Thyme, chopped
Sea Salt and Pepper (Season to Taste)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 Large Chicken Breasts


Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine garlic, rosemary and thyme in a small bowl. Place chicken breasts in roasting pan and sprinkle all sides with sea salt and pepper. Rub the chicken with garlic mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Pour wine into bottom of roasting pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and increase temperature to broil. When ready, broil chicken until skins are golden brown (about 3 minutes). Let rest and then serve. **Tip: Make more of the garlic mixture than necessary and stuff underneath skin prior to baking. You can always add any of your favorite herbs to the garlic mixture you feel appropriate.




Pork Chops with Nectarine and Arugula Salad


Ingredients

1 Shallot, minced
5 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
5 Sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt and Pepper (Season to Taste)
4 Nectarines
4 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Bunch Arugula


Instructions

For the Pork Chops, combine the first set of ingredients and marinate the pork for 5 hours or overnight the night prior. Preheat the grill or skillet to medium-high heat. Cut nectarines into halves. Grill/heat the nectarines for a few minutes, then remove. Grill the Pork Chops 2 to 4 minutes per side to desired finish. Let rest. Toss the Arugula and grilled nectarines with the remaining ingredients and serve.



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