Chehalem Mountain AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Dick and Nancy Ponzi helped put Oregon on the map in the United States and the world. The mantle has been picked up by daughters Maria and Luisa Ponzi, who continue the family history of leadership and innovation in the region and, in the case of Pinot Noir, across the country and indeed the world.
In the late 1960s Dick and Nancy Ponzi uprooted their family to pursue a dream of producing world class Pinot Noir. After research trips to Burgundy and an extensive search, they purchased 20 acres on a small farm just southwest of Portland, Oregon. They believed the climate, soils and vineyard site meet every need of noble cool-climate grape varieties. The winery was founded in 1970, and the family plants their first Pinot Noir. The first 4 barrels of wine produced in 1974. At the time, there are 5 bonded wineries in Oregon with 35 acres in production. Ponzi has since become internationally acclaimed for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. For the last 25 years President Maria Ponzi and Winemaker Luisa Ponzi have brought the estate to even greater heights, setting the standard for Oregon and remaining at the forefront of the nation’s top wine producers.
Today the Ponzis are more focused than ever on their vineyards, in fact leading the charge for a new appellation within the Chehalem Mountains. Their home here in the Northern Willamette Valley provides their favored Laurelwood soils, what they believe is the ideal match to the Pinot Noir grape, lending richness and intense flavors. All their vineyards with the exception of their original Estate vineyard site face north, and since 2000 they have all been LIVE Certified Sustainable, the highest international standard of sustainable viticulture. Not only are their 130 acres farmed LIVE, but they encourage all grower partners to meet the same standards.
The Ponzi’s state of the art winery was built in 2008 around the principle of allowing gravity flow from grape handling to bottling, through 4 progressive levels. It was one of the first wineries to be LIVE certified as well, for its environmentally conscious design. The winery allows the Ponzis to follow their philosophy of attentive vineyard labor that ends with gentle cellar handling. Other key tenets are: expertise drawn from the Old World and New World wisdom; clonal selection and planting suited to each vineyard site and variety; consistent, balanced wines.
The Ponzis are an amazing example of a family-run winery operating at the most sophisticated level.
Learn more here.
Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve is the epitome of restrained power. It hails primarily from estate grown fruit on Laurelwood soils in the Chehalem Mountains, including from some of Oregon’s oldest vines. This remarkably complex wine is handcrafted with tremendous attention to detail.
The "classic" representation of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, this wine encapsulates the experience, innovation, top vineyard sources, and expertise of the pioneering Ponzi family. Among the first to make Pinot Noir in Oregon and the United States and, since the start, among the very best.
Tavola is Ponzi's delicious early release Pinot Noir, a fruit-forward wine with soft tannins, made primarily from younger, lower elevations vines. Meant for early consumption, it is an unbeatable value for quality Pinot Noir.
The Ponzi family has dedicated over 25 years to innovation in farming and winemaking to develop Oregon Chardonnay's place in the world. Luisa Ponzi's formative experiences working in Burgundy in the early 1990s guide her vision of producing complex and ageworthy Chardonnay.
One of the original and most recognized Oregon and U.S. Pinot Gris producers, Ponzi was a major influence in establishing Pinot Gris as the first quality white grape variety in Oregon. Ponzi's Pinot Gris is an irresistably aromatic and expressive wine, and serves as a first encounter for many wine drinkers with Oregon wines and the Ponzi estate.
For decades, Ponzi Abetina Vineyard, which sits on a spectacular east-facing slope born in 1975 as a clonal experiment for Oregon State University, has produced an impressive Pinot noir with unique and complex flavors. So enthralled by the success at Abetina, in 2005 an exact duplicate was planted at Ponzi’s stunning Aurora Vineyard. The experimental collection of more than 20 Pinot noir clones was planted to the same soil, elevation and aspect, as Abetina. With the added element of youth, the Abetina 2 block at Aurora Vineyard gives this cuvée unparalleled vibrancy and depth.
Oregon Chardonnays present an unparalleled combination of bright acidity, texture and freshness of fruit on the mid-palate. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi’s goal is to allow the wines to express these characteristics each vintage through single vineyard expressions. Planted in 2006, Avellana yields a richer, weightier style of Chardonnay as compared to the Aurora single vineyard wine.
Pinot blanc was planted at Aurora Vineyard in the early 1990s, taking advantage of an ideal portion of the 80-acre site. This versatile white wine is a wonderful alternative to Pinot gris. Beautiful floral aromas of jasmine and magnolia mingle with notes of lychee, lemongrass, beeswax and green tea mochi with a touch of cardamom. The textured mouth is reminiscent of shortbread and the freshness of rainwater and wet slate with bright, juicy acidity that encourages another sip.
With its first bottling in 2016, Ponzi Vineyard's remarkable Pinot noir from Madrona Vineyard showcases the consistently stunning fruit from these 30-year-old vine. It reveals a true sense of place in the bottle. The vineyard was named for the madrone trees which surround the 10-acre site and is own rooted Pommard clone. This stunning expression of the Willamette Valley is handcrafted with tremendous attention to detail.
Oregon Chardonnays present an unparalleled combination of bright acidity, texture and freshness of fruit on the mid-palate. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi’s goal is to allow the wines to express these characteristics each vintage through single vineyard expressions. Aurora yields an elegant wine with bright acidity and fruit.
Wine Advocate (93+) - "The 2015 Pinot Noir Reserve is pale to medium ruby-purple in color with a lovely nose of lilac perfume over fresh, pure crushed blueberry and blackberry fruit with layers of pink peppercorn, warm earth and autumn leaves. Light to medium-bodied and silky textured with loads of spice-laced blue and black fruit in the mouth, it has wonderful grainy tannins and juicy, mouthwatering acidity, finishing very long and spicy with licorice notes."
Wine Enthusiast (Editors' Choice) - "This relatively new mid-level Pinot Noir is a mix of estate and purchased grapes aged for almost a year in one third new oak barrels. It’s firm, compact and juicy, with red fruit set in an aromatic frame of crushed raspberry, lavender and thyme notes."
Wine Advocate -
"The 2015 Chardonnay Reserve has a delicate nose of crème fraîche, lemon confit, white peach and wet stone. Medium to full-bodied and creamy textured, it fills the mouth with ripe citrus and white peach plus notes of honey toast and cream, with juicy acidity, finishing long and textured."
Wine Enthusiast - “This excellent reserve celebrating the winery’s 45th anniversary is a multi-vineyard blend that includes grapes from the top cuvées. It’s high toned and scented with whiskey barrel aromas and hints of fresh bread, caramel and almond paste. Although there’s plenty going on, the fruit plays a supporting role to all the barrel flavors. Drink now and into the early 2020s.”
More on Ponzi Vineyards
October 18, 2018 - In wine writer Edward Deitch's latest column for Vinepair, he describes a recent pairing he chose for a homemade seafood stew. While he admitted that he's enhanced his spicy recipe variations with Rieslings…
September 11, 2018 - Robb Report wine columnist Sara Schneider focuses her latest Robb Report column on Chardonnays from Oregon. In the piece, she boldly argues that "Willamette Valley winemakers rival their French counterparts…
October 10, 2018 - The New York Times published a great story in their Travel section that highlights the best places to get a taste of the harvest season. In the story, "Six Places…
September 11, 2018 - D Magazine wine columnist Hayley Hamilton includes Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé in her latest column, "What to Drink Now: Red Wine Options for Under $25." In the story, she…
October 3, 2018 - Bloomberg wine columnist Elin McCoy explains that while many Pinot Grigios lack complexity and can be described as dull, consumers can still find terrific options to enjoy, including Ponzi Vineyards…
Anna Maria Ponzi
Anna Maria’s roots as the daughter of a pioneering wine family give her the strong advantage of being educated in all areas of the wine business. She has worked every aspect of the winery, from planting vines to making sales calls. This unique experience and skill set allows her to serve the state’s wine industry in a myriad of ways, including acting as an ambassador for Oregon wine growers internationally and building Oregon wine country into a travel destination.
In 1987, Anna Maria graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon. She moved to Boston and worked in the publishing industry before returning home to the wine business in 1991 when she took the position of Director of Sales and Marketing at Ponzi Vineyards. The following year, she became a founding member of Women for Winesense and became President of the Oregon chapter.
In 2012, Anna Maria and her sister Luisa acquired ownership of the winery from their parents, and Ponzi Vineyards became one of the country’s few sister-run wineries and one of Oregon’s few second-generation wineries. The following year, Anna Maria opened an elegantly modern tasting room, establishing Ponzi Vineyards as an exceptional wine country destination.
She assumed the position of President in 2014, overseeing all business operations. She will also continue contributing to multiple charitable causes, including ¡Salud!, an organization co-founded by her mother Nancy to provide healthcare services to Oregon vineyard workers. Pulling from a history of innovation and sustainability, Anna Maria is focused on forging a path onto the global market for other Oregon wineries to follow. Under her steadfast leadership, natural business savvy, and tireless work ethic, Ponzi Vineyards is experiencing continued growth and success as one of the nation’s most respected producers of award-winning Oregon wine.
Luisa Ponzi graduated from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science. Following her undergraduate studies, Luisa moved to Beaune, France, where she continued her education in viticulture and enology. As part of the required curriculum, Luisa apprenticed with Burgundian producer, M. Christophe Roumier of Domaine Roumier of Chambolle Musigny, France as well as with Italian producer Luca Currado of Vietti in Piedmont, Italy. In 1993, Luisa was awarded the Certficate Brevet Professionelle D’Oenologie et Viticulture, at the time the only woman to earn such distinction.
In addition to her formal studies of enology and viticulture, Luisa has travelled extensively throughout other prominent wine regions including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Austria, Slovenia and the United States. Since 1986, she has participated in all the International Pinot Noir Celebrations in McMinnville, Oregon and has attended all of the accompanying Steamboat Technical Pinot Noir Conferences.
Luisa combines her formal winemaking experience with her lifelong work with her father, Dick Ponzi, at their Willamette Valley vineyards and winery. Since 1993, Luisa has brought her knowledge of Burgundian practices combined with her personal experience to the family-owned winery.
Luisa continues to educate herself through contacts with winemakers around the world, frequent winery tastings and winemaking conferences. She currently sits on several advisory and wine organization boards.
For more than two decades, Luisa’s passion and winemaking talent have helped sustain Ponzi Vineyards’ nearly 50-year acclaimed tradition of producing some of the world’s finest wines.
Dick and Nancy Ponzi
In 1969, Dick Ponzi moved to Portland, Oregon and founded Ponzi Vineyards, one of the premier wineries in the state. From the first vintage in 1974, Dick has set the standards for enological and viticultural innovation. His mechanical engineering background has proven a great asset through his many years of winemaking. He fabricated machinery and winemaking techniques in his cellar now commonplace in many wineries across the globe. He planted some of the first Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley in the late ‘60’s, and some of the first commercial plantings of Pinot Gris in 1978. He has guided plantings of cool-climate varietals throughout the valley since the early ‘70’s, encouraging others to plant and build a quality wine industry in Oregon.
Nancy Ponzi married Dick in 1961. Their mutual love of food, wine and family made their union “storybook” and naturally lead them down a path overwhelmed with the culinary arts. An overly ambitious woman, she has a steady record of taking on “never before attempted” projects and gracefully turning each of them into great successes.
In addition to being one of the first marketers of Oregon wine in the country, she was a founding Director of the Washington County Wineries Association and was instrumental in establishing the Oregon Wine Advisory Board. Nancy has contributed to the conception and establishment of Oregon’s most successful wine events and has played a vital role in promoting the Willamette Valley as a viable wine region. One of the most widely recognized events is the International Pinot Noir Celebration. This is Oregon’s premier wine event which brings together winemakers and aficionados from around the world to discuss, taste and explore Pinot Noir. Nancy also co-founded ¡Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction, a hugely profitable fundraising event of unique cuvées from Oregon’s most prized vintners. All proceeds provide low-cost healthcare for vineyard workers and their families. Most recently Nancy helped found Oregon Pinot Camp, an exclusive event that privately invites the wine trade to the valley for three days to learn “first hand” about Pinot Noir.
Spec Sheet | PDF
Added October 17, 2018 -