France's Bollinger family has appointed industry veteran Jean-Baptiste Rivail as CEO of Ponzi Vineyards, the Oregon-based winery the family acquired for an undisclosed sum last year. Rivail will also serve as executive vice president of the Bollingers' SJB USA, charged with further developing French wine brands Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Ayala, Domaine Chanson, and Langlois-Chateau in the U.S. market.
Rivail was most recently general manager of LVMH's Newton Vineyards in the Napa Valley. Etienne Bizot, chairman and CEO of the Bollinger family group, said Rivail's “knowledge of the U.S. market and his proven experience in running a successful winery will be a great asset to lead Ponzi Vineyards and to support the development of our other brands.” His appointment is effective today. New York-based importer and marketer Vintus handles the Bollinger family's wine brands in the U.S., including Ponzi, which has annual production of around 30,000 cases.
PORTLAND, OREGON, October 4, 2021 -- The Bollinger family is pleased to announce the appointment of Jean-Baptiste Rivail as CEO of Ponzi Vineyards and Executive Vice President of SJB USA. Owners of iconic Champagne Bollinger in addition to four other historic estates in France (Chanson Père & Fils in Burgundy, Langlois-Chateau in the Loire Valley, Ayala in Champagne and Delamain in Cognac), completed the acquisition of Ponzi Vineyards in May 2021. Mr. Rivail will officially assume his position on October 4, 2021.
“It is an honor that the Bollinger and Ponzi families have placed their confidence in me as we begin this new chapter for Ponzi Vineyards,” shares Rivail. “I feel both great responsibility and excitement in leading a winery with such an immense regional legacy as Ponzi has in Oregon and great excitement to join the family of brands represented by SJB. I look forward to working alongside Luisa Ponzi as well as the SJB family to accelerate Ponzi’s growth while maintaining the quality and style for which the winery is beloved.”
As the first non-family member to serve as CEO of Ponzi Vineyards, Rivail will work with head winemaker Luisa Ponzi to continue the estate’s legacy of quality, innovation, and sustainability. He will also continue work with the Ponzi family at large, who retain 100 acres of local vineyards upon which they will grow and sell grapes to Ponzi Vineyards under long-term contract.
“It Is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Jean-Baptiste to Ponzi Vineyards,” Luisa Ponzi explains. “I personally look forward to working with him to continue the legacy of great wines and leadership in the industry that my family helped establish over 50 years ago. Between the Bollinger ownership, Jean-Baptiste’s expertise and the continuation of winemaking, the winery is in very good hands.”
Rivail brings a rich resume in the world of fine wine, wine distribution and international management to his role at Ponzi Vineyards. He has deep family roots in the industry dating back to the 1800s, when his family started as wine merchants in France. After leading international sales for Champagne Vranken-Pommery, Mr. Rivail was hired by Moet-Hennessy and the LVMH group to steer international developments for Hennessy Cognac across the Americas. He most recently held the position of General Manager for the group’s iconic Newton Vineyards in Napa Valley.
In addition to his responsibilities at Ponzi Vineyards, Jean-Baptiste has also been appointed Executive Vice President SJB USA. In this role, Rivail will lead development of the group’s French wine brands in the U.S.: Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Ayala, Domaine Chanson, and Langlois-Chateau.
Etienne Bizot, Bollinger Family Group chairman and CEO shares: “We are thrilled to bring the talents of Jean-Baptiste Rivail to Ponzi Vineyards (our new acquisition in Oregon) and to the Bollinger group. His great knowledge of the U.S. market and his proven experience in running a successful winery will be a great asset to lead Ponzi Vineyards and to support the development of our other brands."
ABOUT PONZI VINEYARDS
The Ponzi family was instrumental in putting Oregon on the map as a premier wine growing region in the United States and across the world. In the late 1960s, Dick and Nancy Ponzi uprooted their young family to pursue a dream of producing world class Pinot Noir. Ponzi Vineyards was founded in 1970, and the first 4 barrels of wine were produced in 1974. At the time, there were 5 bonded wineries in Oregon with only 35 vineyard acres in production. The family legacy continued for over three decades through the leadership of sisters, Anna Maria and Luisa Ponzi, who successfully grew the operation through their innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.
ABOUT THE BOLLINGER FAMILY
In addition to the iconic Champagne Bollinger, the Bollinger family owns the following leading historic French producers: Champagne Ayala, founded in 1860, and specialist in Chardonnay-dominant Champagnes; Domaine Chanson, founded in 1750, owner of 111 acres of Premier and Grand Cru vineyards in the heart of Burgundy; Langlois-Chateau, founded in 1885, a leading historical producer of Cremant and now also with important Sancerre holdings, all together totaling 175 acres in the best parts of the Loire Valley; and Cognac Delamain, founded in 1824, renowned for focusing entirely on the production of highest quality, aged Cognacs, only XO and above.
AŸ, FRANCE, April 7, 2021 – The Bollinger family, owners of iconic Champagne Bollinger in addition to four other historic estates in France, announce the upcoming acquisition of their first winery in the United States, with the purchase of Oregon’s famed Ponzi Vineyards. The transaction will unite the Bollinger family with the Ponzi family, building on the legacy the Ponzis have established as one of Oregon’s original wineries, leading the success and growth of the region’s Pinot Noir over the last 50 years.
Bollinger family holding group Chairman & CEO Etienne Bizot comments, “The United States is such an important market for luxury Champagne, Burgundy, Sancerre, Cognac, and other regions in which our family owns wineries. If there was anywhere outside of France where we felt it was critical to invest, it is in the U.S. We have quietly considered opportunities for a number of years, but it is finally with the Ponzi family that we feel we have found the ideal fit. Their bold vision to come to Oregon, the subsequent decades of recognition for continually innovating and improving – we have so much respect for what the Ponzis have achieved, and look forward to building on it together, and connecting all our brands more closely with the U.S. market.”
“We have dedicated our lives to demonstrating Oregon’s Willamette Valley as one of the greatest places on the planet for producing cool climate, high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” remarks Luisa Ponzi, the winery’s recognized leading winemaker who trained in Burgundy. “This transaction makes sense for our respective families because of our well aligned values and shared commitment to producing wines of the very highest quality.”
“It gives us immense satisfaction to have the opportunity to pass our legacy winery on to the Bollinger family, who will continue to elevate the brand on a global scale,” Winery President Anna Maria Ponzi shares. “This is the natural next step for our brand and winery.”
The purchase includes the winery and hospitality facilities 40 minutes from Portland, Oregon in addition to 35 acres of vineyard land in the newly established Laurelwood District AVA. The winery has been an introduction to the region for countless numbers of people through not only visits but major events that the Ponzi family has been instrumental in creating and supporting, such as the International Pinot Noir Celebration, Oregon Pinot Camp and the Salud Pinot Noir Barrel Auction.
Under the leadership of a new CEO, whose recruitment is ongoing, Anna Maria will continue to lead the sales & marketing over the transition period and Luisa will remain as the Director of Viticulture and Winemaking. The Ponzi family will retain 100 acres of vineyard land and will grow and sell the grapes to Ponzi Vineyards under a long-term contract.
VINTUS, current Ponzi Vineyards national sales and marketing agent, and importer of Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Ayala, Domaine Chanson and Langlois-Chateau, will continue to represent Ponzi’s trade distribution in the United States.
The timing of the full transition is subject to customary regulatory processes and approvals.
About the Bollinger Family:
SJB, the holding company of the Bollinger family, is comprised of domains in 4 French wine appellations: Bollinger & Ayala in Champagne, Chanson Père & Fils in Burgundy, Delamain in Cognac and Langlois-Chateau in the Loire Valley. Founded in 1829, it is owned and controlled by the same family since 1829 and will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2029. These domains are all linked to their terroir by owning and farming vineyards. SJB’s mission is to offer consumers around the world great experiences around premium wines from the best wine regions.
About Ponzi Vineyards:
In the late 60’s, Dick and Nancy Ponzi uprooted their young family to pursue a dream of producing world class Pinot Noir and were instrumental in bringing world attention to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Over the past thirty years, the Ponzi daughters have expanded the family vineyards and winery facilities, incorporating innovation into its winemaking, viticulture and hospitality. The entrepreneurial family is also recognized for establishing the state’s first craft brewery in 1984 and one of the valley’s first regional restaurants in 1999, now owned and operated by son and brother, Michel and his family.
Co-founded by Nancy Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards in 1985, the International Pinot Noir Celebration now draws nearly 1000 people from all over the world to McMinnville, Oregon, for a weekend of wine tasting, education and dining from the bounty of the Northwest. Attendees include Pinot noir producers and devotees, journalists, Northwest chefs and food lovers. This year's IPNC did not disappoint! Once again, Ponzi Vineyards participated in seminars, sharing the expertise we've cultivated over nearly 50 years as one of Oregon's founding wineries. Our wines were shown at multiple pourings to demonstrate the high-quality the Willamette Valley consistently produces. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi presented alongside Burgundy's finest vintners.
The event was such a success, and it was our great honor to participate. Until next year!
Happy Earth Day! We are delighted that this annual event supporting environmental protection coincides with our announcement of bud break at Ponzi Vineyards.
On 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Riesling is having its day in the sun. Imbibe Magazine featured a small group of Northwest produced Rieslings as "Ideal for the holiday table." With bracing acidity, sometimes a balancing touch of residual sugar and food friendly minerality, Riesling deserves a place at the holiday table. Says Imbibe Associate Editor Penelope Bass, "it’s one of the most food-friendly wines, making it perfect for the holidays." We couldn't agree more!
Imbibe describes the 2015 Ponzi Riesling as "bone-dry and delightfully crisp, with notes of melon, almond and an almost saké-like character."
The artcle describes the 2014 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir: "Plum, raspberry and fresh black fig aromas abound. The palate is stuffed with dark-leaning fruit flavors, subtle spices and hints of bitter chocolate. Continuing fruit is joined by bits of Chicory on the somewhat lusty finish."
Ponzi is proud that the 2014 Ponzi Avellana Pinot Noir is a top scoring wine from Oregon with 95 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
Here's how the wine was described: “Medium-bodied, laced with firm, finely-grained tannins, it delivers intense red berry and earthy layers in the mouth with some exotic spices coming through, finishing long and refreshing....” Read more>>
We are pleased to announce the 2014 Ponzi Aurora Chardonnay was featured as one of the Year’s Best US Chardonnays, with a score of 94 points from Wine & Spirits.
From Wine & Spirits: "The flavors are fulsome and elegant at once, and while you may luxuriate in the texture, its quiet energy will be the lasting impression..."