Chardonnay is the most planted grape variety in the world, and it has a wide range of flavors. Many associate Chardonnay with heavy oak and butter flavors, but that’s just one style. Truly, there’s a Chardonnay out there for everyone. At Ponzi Vineyards, a style of Chardonnay is crafted that is both accessible to novice wine drinkers and offers a freshness sought after by aficionados that may be tired of the oak- and butter-bombs stereotypical of Chardonnay.
After more than two decades of dedicated study—including time spent with Chardonnay master Dominique Lafon of Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy—Winemaker Luisa Ponzi has achieved an insider’s understanding of Chardonnay that is demonstrated in Ponzi Vineyards’ continued leadership in defining a new Oregon style. It’s a style that is bright and acidic, with texture and fresh fruit flavors mid-palate. Every vintage is designed to allow expressions of these characteristics. This new take on Chardonnay is enabling Oregon—and Ponzi Vineyards—to set a new standard for the varietal in America and beyond.
One of the first in Oregon Pinot noir, Ponzi Vineyards was also one of the first to plant and produce Chardonnay in the early 1970s. The original vines were clones that thrived in California but ripened late in Oregon’s cooler climate. Eventually, a Dijon clone was discovered that suited the climate of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which has long periods of daylight but cool evening temperatures in the summertime. This discovery changed Oregon Chardonnay forever.
Ponzi Vineyards planted several blocks of this Dijon clone in their Aurora Vineyard and the resulting wines were flavorful, rich, and complex. The vines are now nearly 30-years old, the roots reaching deep into the Laurelwood soil, and the flavors have grown more intense.
With the Aurora Chardonnay thriving, Luisa began experimenting with clones and rootstocks. She found a winning combination and established another block of Chardonnay vines at Ponzi Vineyards’ Avellana Vineyard.
Vintages from both vineyards regularly score very high, revealing the need for this distinct style of cool-climate Chardonnay.
Luisa Ponzi was a panelist at the Oregon Chardonnay Celebration in 2017, and Ponzi Vineyards will be a presence there again this year.
For a region known for its Pinot noir, Oregon is most certainly making waves with its distinct Chardonnay style, designed for a new American palate.
"This stellar reserve remains one of the finest Chardonnays from Oregon." – Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, on the 2014 Ponzi Chardonnay Reserve
“There’s a renaissance happening in Oregon Chardonnay from the state’s Willamette Valley” – Food & Wine
We are proud to announce the 2015 Ponzi Avellana Chardonnay has been awarded 95 points by The Tasting Panel. This single-vineyard vintage expresses the very best qualities of Ponzi Vineyards' Avellana vineyard, nurtured to perfection under Winemaker Luisa Ponzi's skill and experience. After more than two decades of dedicated study—including time spent with Chardonnay master Dominique Lafon of Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy—Luisa has obtained an understanding of Chardonnay that enables Ponzi Vineyards to be one of the few producers creating a style that is uniquely Oregon.
Ponzi Vineyards is proud to be leading the way in setting a high standard for Oregon Chardonnay under Luisa's direction.
Ponzi Vineyards will be a presence at this year's Oregon Chardonnay Celebration on February 25th. Please come by to show your support!
The 2015 Ponzi Avellana Chardonnay will be available for purchase very soon. In the meantime, pick up a bottle of the 2014 Ponzi Avellana Chardonnay before it's gone.
After the excitement of the harvest, when the vines are dormant and the wines are tucked into their cellars, there is still much work to be done in the vineyard. This quiet season is when the vines are pruned. While lacking the anxious excitement of watching the fruit ripen in summer, or the heady adrenaline rush of harvest in the autumn, pruning the vines in winter is the necessary foundation for the season to come and a key part of making quality wine.
Grapes only grow from shoots on one-year-old canes. To ensure fruit production, healthy new canes must be produced every year. Old canes from previous years’ growth are cut away, and the remaining canes cut back and tied to maintain optimal vine spacing.
While it looks and sounds like a lot of manual labor, pruning grape vines is a combination of science and wisdom:
“Well-pruned vines, through the wisdom and knowledge of a great vineyard manager, balance what they can produce with what a site can provide, creating the best possible fruit from each vineyard,” says JP Pierce, Associate Winemaker at Ponzi Vineyards.
So while pruning and tying down the canes may not be as social media-worthy as ripening fruit clusters, it’s easily the most important part of maintaining vineyard health and producing great wine. That, in a very real way, is a beautiful thing.
The pruning crew at Ponzi Vineyards moves surprisingly quickly down the rows, the steady snip of their shears keeping quick time. The snipped canes are pulled and laid on the ground in alternating fashion between the rows. They’ll be mulched where they lay, to be reincorporated into the soil. This process is relatively quick, and once completed the vineyard crew does another, more-detailed pass through every block. Every cane is tied down and trimmed again so each has about ten growth nodes.
It’s a process that takes two months in cold, unpleasant weather. This year, however, Oregon is experiencing a rather warm winter, with some days even getting above 50 degrees. The vineyard crew is racing the clock to complete pruning before the buds begin to swell and push out, which will begin sometime in March. Luckily, we have a great team working in the vineyard, and we know we have a healthy growing season ahead of us thanks to their efforts today.
The sparkling 2017 wines have been bottled and tucked away for a long rest in the cellar. The process is just shy of magical, beginning with Andrew Davis of Radiant Sparkling Wine Company pulling up to our gravity-flow winery in Sherwood, Oregon, with his bottling trailer. The rosé has already completed its first fermentation and inside Davis’ trailer is everything needed to get it started on its second fermentation.
Clean bottles are loaded onto a belt on one end of the trailer. They are then filled with the rosé and the Liqueur de Tirage, a combination of yeast and sugar that kick starts the second fermentation. During this second fermentation, the alcohol level will increase slightly and the bubbles we all love so much will develop. The bottles are tightly capped and emerge at the other end of the trailer, where they are removed and stacked neatly in large crates. They’ll ferment inside these crates for the next 4-5 years.
Fun fact: Davis’ bottling trailer pushes out about 4 bottles every 20 seconds. That's a lot of wine!
The yeast will eventually consume all the sugar and die. It settles like sediment in the bottle. Such expended yeast is referred to as the lees. The lees impart a pleasing texture and can contribute to flavor, however they don’t look particularly nice in the bottle, clouding the beautiful color of the wine.
The next stage, riddling, gets the yeast out of the liquid and clarifies the wine. The bottles are slowly rotated during the riddling stage so that the lees settle in the neck. Once all the particulates are settled, the neck is submerged in a freezing liquid and the lees freeze into a solid piece. The cap is removed and the pressure inside the bottle causes the frozen lees to push out of the bottle (or be pulled out).
The last step, dosage, adds a mixture of wine and sugar to fill out the bottles. They are then corked, wired, labelled, and are ready to go.
Our pretty pink babies are just settling in for their long nap in the cellar, where they’ll be carefully monitored by Luisa Ponzi and the winery crew. They have a long way to go—sparkling wines require more direct handling than still wines—but when it’s time to pop the cork and raise a glass, the result is definitely worth it.
If you just can't wait to get your hands on some rosé, the 2017 Ponzi Rosé will be releasing in early February 2018, and the 2014 Sparkling Brut Rosé will be released in April 2018 to celebrate the opening of The Founder's Room, our new hospitality space. Follow us on Facebook so you don't miss these exciting new wines!
It is a rainy, blustery day at the vineyard today, which makes us nostalgic for the golden days of last year's harvest.
Many will remember 2017 as a rollercoaster year: devastating wildfires, hurricanes, an incredible solar eclipse. Ponzi Vineyards was spared from the smoke caused by fires in the Columbia River Gorge and when harvest approached, luck continued to be on our side with plentiful winds protecting the grapes on over-warm days. And then it was Harvest Day, and "beautiful" was the word spoken most often by Luisa, our winemaker. And the fruit! So much fruit! The crop was abundant.
With big wistful sighs, we present our video of these happy-busy days. Enjoy!
Spring 2016 was warm in Oregon and the flowers came early. Summer rolled smoothly across the Chehalem Mountains of the Northern Willamette Valley, with beautiful, moderate temperatures all season long. These pleasant days stretched into a mellow, easy autumn. The result: an early harvest of perfect fruit bursting with intense flavor.
We are delighted to present the 2016 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir. Masterfully crafted by winemaker Luisa Ponzi, the unique, high-quality grapes of the 2016 season produced a complex, well-balance wine. Fruit, acidity, and tannin are present in fine equilibrium. Small berry size resulted in rich aromatics and concentrated flavors. Enjoy this lush, sophisticated Pinot noir today, or put bottles away to age gracefully—we expect greatness from this vintage.
This presumptuous nose of brambly blackberry notes, cinnamon stick, graham cracker and lavender is as intriguing as the palate which gives salted caramel, black tea and strawberry balsamic notes. The generous fruit provides a silky middle and soft finish with lingering spicy tannins. –Winemaker Luisa Ponzi
Tavola is Italian for “table” and we encourage you to enjoy the 2016 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir with friends and family. Perfect for gatherings both cozy and large, this wine is a key component in any hospitality toolkit. Serve in Riedel glassware created specifically for Oregon Pinot noirs to add that special touch. We are so pleased to offer this exceptional Pinot noir to you at an affordable price. Cheers!
Bouquet: blackberry, cinnamon, graham cracker, lavender
Flavors: salted caramel, black tea, strawberry balsamic
Pair with: poached salmon, braised duck, grilled vegetables, goat cheese, chocolate cake, fruit
Ponzi Vineyards has been creating world-class wines for nearly 50 years. Located just 15 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon, Ponzi Vineyards is a second-generation winery run by sisters Luisa and Maria Ponzi.
Just in time for Valentine's Day. Ponzi Vineyards will be setting the table for a food and wine filled night to remember.
Taste your way to becoming proficient in selecting the perfect wine for any meal. Learn the tricks of the trade from Culinary Director, Thomas Ghinazzi, as you explore Ponzi wines and vintages expertly paired with a variety of seasonal dishes.
This popular evening is topped off with the release of the Ponzi Pinot Noir Rosé & Rosé magnums. Join us for a fun, festive, and elegant dining experience in the heart of Oregon's wine country.
As a thank you for continuing to enjoy Ponzi wines, we want you to be the first to know the 2014 Ponzi Sparkling Brut Rosé has been bottled and 10 cases are being made available to our favorite people. When it’s gone, it’s gone− until it’s official release in April.
We can’t wait for you to pop the cork on this limited production, 70% Pinot noir, 30% Chardonnay sparkling brut rosé.
Cheers and Happy New Year!
Is the fork on the left or the right? Which knife goes first? What wine glasses should I use? When it comes to the holidays we all like to dress it up a little. But if those darn etiquette rules escape you, we are here to help
Ponzi’s Director of Hospitality and Events, Kati Focareto, takes us through a proper place setting as she prepares for a formal Ponzi dinner party. Click on video below.
Many Ponzi magnums and specialty cuvées are finished with wax. Learn how to open these bottles like a pro. Our Director of Hospitality & Events, Kati Focareto demonstrates how to safely handle a wax sealed bottle. All you need is a cork puller, a strong hand and a bit of confidence.