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Ponzi Vineyards

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Ponzi Vineyards
 
August 17, 2018 | Ponzi Vineyards

Veraison at Ponzi Vineyards


veraison at Ponzi Vineyards

We have veraison at Ponzi Vineyards!

Veraison (“verr-ray-zohn”) is technically defined as the change of color of grape berries. However, it also represents the transitional period from berry growth to berry ripening and the changes occuring during that time.

One of the most important moments in a grapevine’s annual lifecycle, veraison signals the onset of ripening, when the grapes turn from green to red and begin to sweeten. The process also occurs in white grapes in a less visually dramatic way, with grapes turning from green to golden and becoming more translucent.

veraison at Ponzi Vineyards

During veraison, the vine alters its focus from creating energy through photosynthesis to consuming energy in order to make sweet grapes. The vine transports its energy stores from the roots into the grapes. The chlorophyll in the grapes is replaced by anthocyanins (in red grapes) or carotenoids (in white grapes), as well as sugars and other nutrients. As these sugars accumulate and aroma compounds develop, the grapes begin to increase in size. Acid levels also begin to fall during this time.

Once veraison begins, the ripening process continues for another 30-70 days until the grapes are fully ready. The time required for ripening varies by grape type. For example, Pinot gris typically ripens much earlier than Pinot noir.

veraison at Ponzi Vineyards

Some grape varieties have bunches that ripen unevenly; some berries on the cluster will be completely ripe while others are still green. Extreme uneven ripening is called millerandage and can lead to wines that smell sweet but taste unbalanced and “green”. It happens commonly in Pinot noir, which is why it takes skill and experience to craft wine from this grape. Luckily for Ponzi Vineyards, Winemaker Luisa Ponzi knows exactly what she’s doing and consistently produces exemplary Pinot noir year after year.

You can view veraison for yourself: our tasting room is surrounded by our Avellana vineyard. Avellana has been planted Clonal Massale™, an innovative planting technique pioneered by Luisa Ponzi in which more than 20 clones have been planted randomly throughout the vineyard blocks like wildflowers. They ripen at different times, but are harvested all at once. The diversity of clones creates balance and depth in the finished wines and creates a consistency from year to year that adjusts for vintage variability and shifts the focus to the unique terroir of the site. Veraison is the perfect time to view the diversity of the clones at Avellana, and you can do so from the comfort of our tasting room’s terrace with a glass of Pinot in hand.

Read along as we follow the vineyard throughout the year in The Vineyard Series:

Time Posted: Aug 17, 2018 at 3:38 PM
Ponzi Vineyards
 
July 25, 2018 | Ponzi Vineyards

The Vineyard Series: Leaf Pulling

In the full heat of summer, the vines are growing steadily and berries are beginning to form on the vines. It’s time to set the stage for harvest. Canopy management is now more important than ever to maintain the ideal microclimate on the vine, and so begins the process of leaf pulling.

Pulling leaves from the growing canopy thins it out, which allows sunshine to reach the grapes and ripen them. A thinner canopy also improves airflow around the tightly packed clusters of developing fruit, which helps prevent mold growth in the cool, damp climate of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and keep pest pressure low. However, care must be taken not to remove too much--when temperatures rise, the grape are at risk for sunburn without some shade coverage provided by leaves. Too much sun can also lead to overripe flavors.

vineyard maintenance leaf pulling

Like most vineyard tasks, leaf pulling is labor-intensive. Every leaf is pulled by hand and selecting which and how many leaves to pull takes skill and experience. The vineyard crew pulls leaves away from the area just above the vine’s cordon, or arms, where the clusters are growing. Many of our crew members have been with us twenty years or more, so they move quickly and efficiently through the rows under the supervision of Vineyard Manager Miguel Ortiz, thinning the canopy perfectly and ensuring beautiful fruit in the fall.

Also called basal leaf removal or cluster-zone leaf removal, leaf pulling is such a crucial part of vineyard management that Oregon State University has been conducting experiments to determine the effects of leaf pulling on grape development. They have found that leaf removal noticeably enhanced color and aroma in fruit more than no leaf removal.

With just the right amount of sun and air, the grapes at Ponzi Vineyards are progressing beautifully.

Read along as we follow the vineyard throughout the year in The Vineyard Series:

Time Posted: Jul 25, 2018 at 10:52 PM
Ponzi Vineyards
 
June 29, 2018 | Ponzi Vineyards

Classico Vineyards Series: Aurora

Aurora vineyards

Pinot noir loves the Willamette Valley. It seems there is a perfect spot for this varietal around every corner. Ponzi Vineyards is lucky to farm some of the best at our Avellana, Aurora and Madrona vineyards. These sites are the foundation of our signature wine, the Classico Pinot Noir. To complete the blend and truly highlight what this region can produce, we work with area growers to source the finest fruit from exceptional vineyards. When sourcing from these growers and from our own vineyards, Winemaker Luisa Ponzi looks for fruit that contributes the desired aromatics, structure or fruit intensity to complement her vision for the vintage. For our 2015 Classico blend, she selected Aurora Vineyard for its fruit intensity.

harvest at Aurora vineyard

Named for its stunning view of the sunrise, Aurora was originally planted in 1991. This 80-acre vineyard has it all: old vines, lots of sunlight and Laurelwood soil on a Southeast-facing slope in the Chehalem Mountains AVA in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. At 300-600 feet of elevation, this vineyard builds on experiments done at other Ponzi sites. It features numerous comparative plantings, rootstock studies, clones and spacing variations. One of the most notable plantings is an exact duplicate of the Ponzi Abetina vineyard, planted in 2005, called Abetina 2. Those plantings comprise a collection now preserved on rootstock on the same soil, elevation and aspect as the original block. Aurora is also a LIVE-certified site.

All of this adds up to a vineyard that shows incredible consistency year after year, producing fruit with big, spicy flavors and beautiful tannins that act as the backbone of our Classico blend.

Aurora vineyard

 

Explore Luisa Ponzi’s 2015 Classico Pinot Noir and the eleven exceptional Vineyards she selected as Willamette Valley’s truest expression of that memorable year

 

Get a bottle of Classico Pinot Noir for yourself. The dusty tannins, hints of roasted coffee and mouthwatering acidity are balanced by almond sweetness. Pairs beautifully with food.

 

About the Classico Series

Our Classico Pinot Noir is blended from 100% Pinot noir sourced from the exceptional sites throughout the Willamette Valley with Ponzi’s most established vineyards at its base. The result is a classic New World expression of Oregon Pinot noir with nuances and flavors that are a hallmarks of the region’s varied soils and cool climate. Follow along as we explore some of the vineyards chosen by Winemaker Luisa Ponzi as the truest expressions of the vintage.

Time Posted: Jun 29, 2018 at 4:11 PM
Ponzi Vineyards
 
June 19, 2018 | Ponzi Vineyards

Vineyard Series: Tucking the Vines

 

untucked grapevines

Grape vines grow quickly! It seems like we just had bud break and now the vines are already growing tall and full.

The grapevine canopy is made up of shoots and leaves which need to be thinned and tucked throughout the growing season. Thinning is the process of removing extra shoots to give the remaining ones greater and more even access to sunlight. Thinning also improves fruit quality, as the plant can focus resources rather than spreading them thin.

tucked grapevines

The remaining vines grow out and down, and if left unattended will eventually reach the ground where they are susceptible to damage, pests and disease. To avoid this, the vines are tucked up between wires that encourage upward growth and create a uniform distribution of foliage that minimizes shading of the fruit. The increased air flow and sunlight penetration around the vine lessens disease pressure on the plant, as well. Tucking also keeps the rows looking neat and tidy. Compare the “before” photo (at top) with the “after” photo:

Tucking is done by hand several times during the growing season. It’s labor-intensive work and care must be taken not to break the growing vines. Our amazing crew, led by Vineyard Manager Miguel Ortiz, is quick and efficient--many of them have been with us for nearly 20 years or more! Through their skill and expertise, the vines are kept tucked and safe, ready for the next stage of growth when they begin to flower.

Read along as we follow the vineyard throughout the year in The Vineyard Series:

Time Posted: Jun 19, 2018 at 10:46 PM
Ponzi Vineyards
 
April 22, 2018 | Ponzi Vineyards

Bud Break and Shoot Thinning: Sustainable Farming, Thoughtful Viticulture

Bud break at Ponzi VineyardsHappy Earth Day! We are delighted that this annual event supporting environmental protection coincides with our announcement of bud break at Ponzi Vineyards.

Chardonnay bud break at Ponzi VineyardsOn April 20th, we had reports from our Vineyard Manager Miguel Ortiz of bud break of Chardonnay Clone 96 in the Avellana vineyard (pictured right). We also had bud break of Arneis in our Aurora vineyard (pictured above). These sweet buds signal another year of life and growth for Ponzi Vineyards.

With nearly 50 years experience farming in the Willamette Valley, the Ponzi Family intimately understands the importance of protecting the natural environment. Climate change is a reality that can affect how grapes grow and ripen. To ensure that these historic vineyards thrive in an increasingly unpredictable climate, the experienced vineyard team pays constant attention to the vines. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi believes that natural farming practices are an essential element of Oregon’s unique terroir. For Ponzi Vineyards, this unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship includes using earth-friendly practices in all areas of its business:

“When I come to work in the morning and see these little sweeties, I blow them a kiss and thank them for returning another year,” says Winery President and second-generation vintner Anna Maria Ponzi.

  • Our Collina del Sogno property (where our winery, tasting room and Avellana vineyard are located) was one of the first Oregon facilities awarded the LIVE Winery Certification, meeting LIVE specifications for an eco-friendly building and sustainable winemaking practices.
  • Our vineyards are certified Salmon-Safe certified.
  • The winery maximizes the natural contours of the hilltop site on which it’s located for light, temperature control, gravity-flow processing, water retention and recycling.

These environmentally friendly practices help ensure we have bud break next year, and every year after that. For a detailed list of our sustainable practices, click here.

Shoot Thinning

The arrival of the buds means it’s time for the vineyard crew to begin the meticulous process of shoot thinning. Shoot thinning is the first step to balancing yield. The canes--previously pruned and tied--must now be carefully examined and every bud counted. The crew will pluck off the new buds, leaving just five per cane. With two canes per plant, each will have ten buds. These buds will grow into shoots that develop two or three clusters each. When these clusters form, the crew will again work through the vineyard, thinning down to one cluster per shoot, for a total of ten clusters per plant.

The thinning process ensures that every plant focuses on developing ten amazing clusters, rather than trying to grow twenty or thirty clusters of lesser quality. The plant’s resources are not spread thin, and the resulting crop is one of quality, not quantity.

This is thoughtful work and the crew moves slowly, counting and carefully choosing which buds to keep and which to remove. Every single vine is touched by human hands, a reminder of our direct connection to the earth. If we are gentle and thoughtful, it will continue to sustain us.

Cover Crop

In between each row is a riot of growth: blades of grass, pops of purple flowers, yellow flowers. With the buds on the grapevines, these wildflower-looking plants also burst into life. This is our cover crop, also sometimes called “green manure”. Among them are legumes--sweetpea, fava beans, vetch--as well as grasses, red clover and mustard. Once they fully bloom, they will be tilled into the soil, providing the grapevines with a rich source of nitrogen. A natural fertilizer, it’s right in line with the Ponzi Vineyard’s commitment to sustainability and gentle stewardship of the land.  

And they’re really pretty, too.

Happy Earth Day

We hope you will celebrate this Earth Day and bud break at Ponzi Vineyards with us. Have a glass of LIVE-certified, Salmon-Safe, gravity-flow wine and give thanks and respect to this beautiful world we inhabit. Cheers!

Vineyard Series:
Time Posted: Apr 22, 2018 at 5:19 PM
Ponzi Vineyards
 
April 12, 2018 | Ponzi Vineyards

Tying Down the Vines

Vineyard Manager Miguel Ortiz prunes the vinesWhile sipping a glass of Oregon Pinot noir, it’s not often we think about things like vineyard maintenance. Tableside, the waiter never talks about vine pruning when describing a vintage. Yet, it’s the hard work of vineyard crews and the thoughtful implementation of vine training systems that result in the wine we enjoy so much. Some of our crew members have been with us for over 20 years, and we owe them so much for their dedication and hard work. Our Vineyard Manager, Miguel Ortiz (pictured above), oversees this skilled group of workers.

This is the second chapter of our ongoing Vineyard Series. Follow along from bud break to harvest to learn about the art and science of viticulture and how it impacts the wines and vintages you love.

Previous Vineyard Story: Pruning. Upcoming Story: Bud Break!

Training for Success

Just as people must train long and hard in order to achieve success, the vines must be trained to have a successful harvest year after year. The process is long and requires patience--it takes years before a vine is ready to produce fruit--yet the end result is well worth the effort. But what does it mean to train a grapevine?

Tied grapevinesHistory

Grapes are among the world’s oldest cultivated crops. Viticulturists have been developing vine training systems for several millennia. Cultures as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians learned that effective vine training promoted abundant fruit.

For much of viticulture’s history, vine training from region to region varied based on tradition. In the early 20th century, many of these traditional methods were codified into wine laws and regulations, such as the French Appellation d’Origin Contrôlée (AOC) system. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the study and implementation of various training systems really began, right around when many New World wine regions (such as Oregon, Washington and Australia) were building up their wine industry. These young vineyards didn’t have the pressure of centuries of regional tradition, such as existed in the Old World (France, Italy, Spain, etc.). Therefore, vine growers in the New World were able to experiment and research on a large scale. They studied how particular vine training systems, pruning, and canopy management techniques impacted wine quality and developed new methods that could be adapted to the desired wine as well as to the specific labor needs and mesoclimate of a vineyard. 

Trained grapevinesAt Ponzi Vineyards

Back at Ponzi Vineyards, Ortiz oversees the careful bending and tying of the canes: one to the right, one to the left. After 21 seasons with us, he’s an expert. He’s watched these vines grow from little more than shoots to abundant producers of beautiful fruit.

The optimum spacing between vines has been determined after nearly fifty years of experimentation and study, and the canes are pruned to maximize fruit yield and quality within that space. While the vines themselves may be quite old, new canes grow every year. We prune the older canes and leave two of last year’s canesThese remaining canes are then trimmed and carefully bent along the fruiting wire and secured. The methods used depend on the site; our Avellana vineyard is trained using a double Guyot system to increase sunlight and ripening, and at the Historic Estate vineyard we train in what’s known as the Scott Henry Trellis to promote growth at this more vigorous site.

This process has to be done prior to bud break, which Ortiz expects in mid-April. The Ponzi Family have been refining their vineyard management over two generations. Everything is designed to encourage the best quality fruit. Attentive, sustainable vineyard management combined with gentle winemaking practices results in the beautiful benchmark wines we produce season after season.

The next time you pour a glass of wine, raise a toast to the vineyard crews that make it possible!

 

Time Posted: Apr 12, 2018 at 10:23 AM