Ponzi Vineyards

Chardonnay Reserve 2016

Willamette Valley


In the early 1990s, Luisa Ponzi lived and worked with one of the greatest white wine producers of Burgundy while continuing her studies in viticulture and winemaking. The Chardonnay she experienced there became a passion and, upon her return to Oregon, a mission. She has been one of the most outspoken advocates of Chardonnay in Oregon, has witnessed 3 decades of experimentation with clones and soil types, and we can say today is making some of the most compelling Chardonnay in the United States.

Ponzi was in fact one of the first to plant and produce Chardonnay in Oregon, in the early 1970s. The difficulties with those early vintages for producers in Oregon was due to the use of a warm-weather clone brought from California, which could not ripen fully in Oregon. In the early 1990s Ponzi started planting french clones, and that change altered the path of Oregon Chardonnay. Luisa went further, experimenting with additional clones and rootstocks, and then with the vinification.

It’s safe to say that Luisa Ponzi’s breadth of experience with Chardonnay in Oregon is unparalleled.


The 2016 Chardonnay Reserve is a blend of Ponzi’s LIVE Certified Sustainable Avellana and Aurora Vineyards blended with Paloma, Alloro and Three Cedars Vineyards planted on Laurelwood soil in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, along with Sunset View and Bunker Hill in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.


The fruit was whole-cluster pressed and the juice moved to French oak barrels (15% new) and fermented in barrel using partial wild yeast. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous and 100%. Lees were stirred once a week for 6 months and racked after 12 months to very neutral oak. After 20 months of total barrel age, the wine was moved by compressed gas to tank for blending, then bottled by gravity. This wine has been aged in bottle for 3 months before its release. Alcohol is 13.6%; pH is 3.26.


For the last three years we have been defining the new normal with early vintages in the Willamette Valley. 2016 jumped out of the gate with bud break a full 3 weeks earlier than what we are accustomed to. Flowering was condensed by a heat spell and an early summer gave us beautiful warm temperatures until August when it heated up. Harvest arrived later that month and was in full swing by early September. All fruit was in the door by the first part of October. Fruit quality was immaculate with absolutely no disease pressure. Fruit set was small due to the short flowering time. Berry size was also small resulting in lower yields and gorgeously intense fruit. I would liken 2016 to the 2006 vintage where we saw lush, beautiful wines with unexpected elegance and acidity, but in achingly short supply. Truly, a stellar vintage for Oregon.

Tasting Note

Honeycomb, quince, candied orange and cardamom lift from this nose along with heady gardenia, white pepper and meyer lemon. The mouth is silky with flavors of verbena shortbread, grapefruit and oyster shell.



Grape Varieties



Willamette Valley


All of their vineyards have been LIVE Certified Sustainable, the highest international standard of sustainable viticulture.



Suggested Retail Price



"Juicy, palate-caressing"

Vinous - September 4, 2020

"Brilliant straw-yellow. Spice-and-smoke-accented melon, pear and white peach aromas are complicated by suggestions of orange zest, toasty lees and pungent flowers. Juicy, palate-caressing orchard and pit fruit, candied ginger and sweet butter flavors are underscored by a vein of tangy acidity. Lingers with subtle sweetness and strong tenacity, leaving honeysuckle and pear nectar notes behind."

"Creamy texture and savory character"

Wine Advocate - October 26, 2020

"The 2016 Chardonnay Reserve has a lovely nose of apple pie, hazelnuts, honey, cream and mushroom with notes of cheese rind and a spicy undercurrent. The medium-bodied palate has a creamy texture and savory character, with juicy acidity and a long finish."

"Supple and sexy"

Wine Enthusiast - October 26, 2020

Editor's Choice

"With both quality and interest in Oregon Chardonnay at an all-time high, it's a pleasure to see one of the state's founding wineries offering its reserve-level effort at a price well below the competition. Supple and sexy, this is buoyed by juicy acids atop tangy flavors of gooseberry, green apple, grapefruit and Meyer lemon. But don't think it's sour: those flavors round out into a palate-pleasing, lightly toasty finish, with the extra details that native yeasts often provide." 


"Clean, nicely focused"

Jeb Dunnuck - March 27, 2020 "The 2016 Chardonnay Reserve is a richer, medium-bodied effort that has a solid kiss of oak to go with plenty of classy orchard and citrus fruits, toasted nuts, white flowers, and toasted bread. With great acidity, plenty of sweet fruit, and a clean, nicely focused finish, drink it any time over the coming 4-5 years."

"Sturdy, concentrated impression"

James Suckling - February 19, 2020 "This is a complex chardonnay with a wealth of ripe peaches and pears, framed in attractive, grilled-cashew and praline nuances. The palate has very composed texture and freshness and delivers a sturdy, concentrated impression with pears, lemons and grilled hazelnuts to close."

"Polished and pretty"

Wine Spectator - February 19, 2020 "Polished and pretty, with elegantly layered pear and tropical fruit accents that take on zesty spice notes on the finish." 

More on Ponzi Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve 2016

Ponzi Vineyards Celebrates 50 Years of Innovative Winemaking in Oregon

June 16, 2020 - Anna Maria Ponzi, second generation vintner for Ponzi Vineyards, chatted with blogger Wine with Wanda about Ponzi's 50th anniversary in her latest Instagram Live Session. The two cover a lot:…

From Boots, Buckets, & Brawn to Today – Ponzi Vineyards Turns 50

May 15, 2020 - Katrina René of The Corkscrew Concierge published an extremely detailed, and beautiful story illustrating Ponzi Vineyards' incredible 50 year journey. This past February, René had the privilege to sit down with Founder…

Trade Materials

Other Wines by this Producer

Laurelwood Pinot Noir

Laurelwood District, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley

For over 50 years, the Ponzi family has farmed 140 acres of certified sustainable vineyards all planted on Laurelwood soil. Situated along the Northern ridge of the Willamette Valley, these ancient soils are comprised of fractured basalt layered over with a fine, windblown sediment called loess. A decade-long effort by sisters Maria and Luisa, alongside their neighbors has resulted in the recognition of Oregon’s first soil-based AVA, the Laurelwood District. The 2019 vintage boasts the new label design, with a textured effect that resembles the layers of the Laurelwood soils.

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Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve is the epitome of restrained power. It hails 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.

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