Tag: Food

Lodi Reaches for New Heights-Heads to the Aspen Food and Wine Classic

Lodi Reaches for New Heights-Heads to the Aspen Food and Wine Classic

The tarmac is waiting. Bags are packed. Packages of Lockeford Sausages are stuffed into carry- on luggage and dozens of Lodi wines will fly the friendly skies for eager oenophiles. That’s right, Lodi wine is taking flight to one of Food and Wine’s premier events, 

Building Stronger Food Communities with the Fresno Food Expo and Simon Majundar

Building Stronger Food Communities with the Fresno Food Expo and Simon Majundar

Fresno Food Expo Partners with Simon Majundar to Highlight the Valley’s Culinary Credentials A few weeks ago I was afforded an incredible opportunity from a childhood friend. She runs the Fresno Food Expo, the largest regional food show in America, and she had big news. 

Big Hats, Big Hearts, Big Money

Big Hats, Big Hearts, Big Money

Over 400 guests donned big hats, big hearts and big pocketbooks for the Hospice of San Joaquin’s Fourth Annual Kentucky Derby Fundraiser. The event, or shall I say spectacle, was held at the Sargent Equestrian Center on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

The Kentucky Derby is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. I mean, you get to put on a big hat, a classy sundress, enjoy a few cocktails and watch thoroughbred horses battle it out in one of the quickest and most anticipated sporting events of the year. What isn’t to like?

These are all reasons why the Kentucky Derby Fundraiser is such a success! Let me set the stage…you walk in to a gigantic horse barn where we were greeted with auction booklets, mint juleps and the cutest little step and repeat for us to capture the day!

Adam and Danielle Tibon (St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation)


We snacked on culinary creations created by Thai Spices, bid on silent auction items and mingled with other supporters of SJ Hospice.

One of the many silent auction items up for bidding

Guests then gathered in the main arena where we were able to watch all of the live action of the Derby from a large screen up front. The excitement built with each gallop of the horses, as guests that purchased raffle items were assigned a horse to root for. The crowd cheered with excitement as Always Dreaming raced across the finish line to take the bed of roses!

Statue of Secretariat, donated by Fritz and Phyllis Grupe

Next up was a live auction filled with unique items for our bidding. The highlights were a trip to Maui and a wheelbarrow of wine filled with incredible vintages of collectibles! Yours truly, may be planning a trip to Maui later this year! The evening was capped off with a delicious buffet dinner paired with award-winning wines donated from local Lodi wineries.

The annual event is a huge fundraiser for the not-for-profit SJ Hospice (this is important as some hospices are simply a for-profit business and do not offer the same level of services). With big hearts, over $100,000 was raised to benefit this worthy organization and all they do for terminally ill patients in their final days of life.

Events such as this require a ton of planning, logistics, energy and drive. When I attend a fundraiser I always think about how much time volunteers spent behind the scenes to make it happen. The Kentucky Derby was no exception. Kudos to Laura Heinitz and Sharon Stokes for co-chairing the event.

I am so grateful to the St. Joseph’s Foundation of San Joaquin for inviting us to this fun-filled day of horse racing, food, drinks and philanthropy!

Craig Ledbetter and Kristina Knudsen (VP of Philanthropy for ST. Joseph’s Foundation of SJ)

Hospice of San Joaquin is an incredibly worthy cause and I hope you may consider their organization when estate planning or making end of year donations (Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with this organization other than using their services).

Cheers to our community, the fabulous volunteers and the worthy causes they champion! Check back soon for more updates!

Fine Foodie Philanthropist

Suzanne Ledbetter

Headshots by F3 Studios



Farm to Fork Perfection: Ag Safe Dinner

Farm to Fork Perfection: Ag Safe Dinner

What a great time to live in Lodi Wine Country! The sun is shining and last week I had the privilege of coordinating a dinner for AgSafe’s board of directors! My husband recently joined the board, and when news came Lodi would be hosting their 

May Madness: Kentucky Derby, Babes & Bouquets, James Beard Chefs Dinner and ZinFest

May Madness: Kentucky Derby, Babes & Bouquets, James Beard Chefs Dinner and ZinFest

Anyone else ever wonder when life is going to slow down a bit? Well, I can assure you, in Lodi, it isn’t going to be in May. It’s so crazy I’m terming it May Madness! There are just SO many exciting things happening in Lodi 

Welcome to the Fine Foodie Philanthropist

Welcome to the Fine Foodie Philanthropist

Welcome to the Fine Foodie Philanthropist! I am so excited to share this project with you all…something I have talked about for way too long, and finally decided to pursue. With a crazy, hectic and fun-filled life, I wanted to do more of what sets my soul on fire—write!

I am a farmer’s wife who loves fine food, wine and giving back to our local community. I plan to share with you stories behind the wine and details of my culinary adventures, while also highlighting charitable events from Lodi, California and beyond.

Headshots by F3 Studio Photographers

During the week I am a Program Coordinator for the Hutchins Street Square Foundation, a local non-profit in the Lodi community. I am married to a third generation wine grapegrower, Craig Ledbetter, of Vino Farms. In 2013, we were blessed with an adorable son Chase, who shows me what love and compassion mean on a daily basis. He also never stops talking and is full of more energy than humanly possible.

My Family: Husband Craig and son Chase (4)

When I’m not working or spending time with my family, you can usually find me doing one of three things:

  1. Volunteering for local organizations or hosting a dinner party
  2. Seeking out the finest foodie spots
  3. Sipping on wine (o.k. maybe a cocktail, but for the purposes of this blog, we’ll say wine).

Event planning is something I love to do, but I never wanted it to be a full time job. I am fortunate that I can use my creativity to help direct multiple fundraisers a year in our region. I serve on the Board of Directors for the Lodi Boys and Girls Club, am a member of Omega Nu (a community service sorority that fundraises for local non-profits) and was part of a collaborative group of young business leaders who launched the Young Professionals Committee of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce. I also assist the Lodi Community Foundation with administrative and media needs. These organizations keep me busy, and occasionally stress me out…but I find giving back to our local community keeps my heart full.

Table setting for a Wine Blogger Conference Dinner in August of 2016, Lodi, CA.

I love to travel and with a husband in the wine business, I consider myself lucky to attend food and wine events around the country. My true passion is food…one passed down from my late father, who I watched intently in the kitchen as a child. I was the only 7-year-old that enjoyed a red wine sauce on my filet mignon or a good grand marnier souffle. He always told me I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. So this one’s for you Dad…following the things I love in this beautiful world and sharing them on my new blog, The Fine Foodie Philanthropist! I hope you will join me on my epicurean journey and beyond.

Stay tuned…May is going to be a jam packed month!


The Fine Foodie Philanthropist

Suzanne Ledbetter