The history of Oregon’s wine country is rooted in a deep respect for the land. The founding wineries of the Willamette Valley built their businesses on principles of sustainability. They took their roles as stewards of the land seriously, and from day one they implemented practices that nurtured both the environment and the people who worked in the vineyards and wineries. You can explore this history further on the Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s website. If you would like to do a tasting tour supporting sustainable wineries, you have a lot of options. We suggest starting with these three.
Stop 1: Ponzi Vineyards
19500 SW Mountain Home Road, Sherwood
Founded by Dick and Nancy Ponzi in 1970, Ponzi Vineyards is now owned and operated by their daughters, Luisa and Anna Maria Ponzi. Their vineyards are LIVE Certified, and they hold long-term contracts with some of the best growers in the region whose vineyards are also certified sustainable. They are Salmon Safe, members of the Carbon Reduction Challenge, utilize cover crops for weed suppression and fertilizers, and operate a four-level gravity-flow winery that was one of the first Oregon facilities awarded the LIVE Winery Certification, meeting LIVE specifications for an eco-friendly building and sustainable winemaking practices. Just 40 minutes from Portland, it’s a must-see.
Stop 2: Rex Hill
30835 OR-99W, Newberg
For your next stop, it’s a quick trip to Newberg to visit Rex Hill. Established in 1982, they were purchased by A to Z Wineworks in 2007. Rex Hill has practiced sustainability from its outset. Their vineyards and winery are LIVE certified and they work with their independent growers to help them farm organically. Their Jacob-Hart Vineyard is Demeter-certified Biodynamic, a philosophy of stringent organic farming practices that considers the physical, energetic and spiritual aspects of farming.
Stop 2: Penner-Ash Cellars
15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Road, Newberg
Your last stop was founded by the legendary Lynn Penner-Ash and her husband, Ron. Penner-Ash was the first female winemaker hired in Oregon at none other than your previous stop, Rex Hill. In 1998, she began crafting her own wines, finally moving into her own sustainable, energy-conserving, gravity-flow winery in 2005. The design of the building takes into consideration ergonomics, putting worker health and safety foremost by eliminating the need for heavy lifting thanks to a system of catwalks and forklifts. Their Estate Vineyard is LIVE Certified and Salmon Safe, as are many of the vineyards they work with via independent growers.