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Ponzi Blog

 
April 24, 2018 |

Meet the Maker: Sarah Wolf Ceramics

Photo by Ellie Baygalov

The Laurelwood at Ponzi Vineyards is a wine country hospitality space like no other, and the attention to every detail has been meticulous. Local food and flavors will be served here to gatherings large and small, and the dinnerware had to be beautiful while reflecting the aesthetics and values of the Willamette Valley. Dedicated to supporting local makers, Anna Maria Ponzi found the perfect plates in the open-air studio of the talented ceramic artist, Sarah Wolf.

With a background in geochemistry, Wolf decided to return to school and earned a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Ceramics at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Working from her studio in Northwest Portland, she is quickly earning a loyal following with her unique ceramic dinnerware and vases. Her designs are minimalist and modern, with a slight folk-art feel that is very contemporary.

Ponzi Vineyards is very pleased to have partnered with Wolf Ceramics  on such a special custom dinnerware set for use in our new hospitality space, The Laurelwood. The design of The Laurelwood pays tribute to founders Dick and Nancy Ponzi while moving forward into the future under the leadership of sisters Anna Maria and Luisa Ponzi. Wolf’s work resonates that concept in a marriage of rustic feel and modern lines. Gatherings held in The Laurelwood will not only be hosted in one of the finest hospitality spaces in the Willamette Valley, they will also dine in style on dinnerware crafted by this gifted artist.

Ceramics and winemaking both are equal parts art and science. As a native Oregonian, Wolf is a perfect choice for this space built by a family so deeply rooted in the region. In selecting other artists and craftspeople, Ponzi Vineyards looked for not just skill, but also for people who have an intrinsic understanding of the area and its culture, and who contribute to the elevation of the region’s prominence through their work. Joining Wolf in The Laurelwood are a gifted woodworker, metalworker and architect (stay tuned for their stories soon). The synergy of their creations is unique, yet reflective of the past, making The Laurelwood truly one of a kind.

To inquire about The Laurelwood, contact events@ponzivineyards.com or call (503) 628-1227.

Time Posted: Apr 24, 2018 at 4:31 PM
 
April 22, 2018 |

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
 
April 12, 2018 |

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
 
April 6, 2018 |

Charity of the Month - April 2018: Post 58

Ponzi Vineyards Charity of the Month Post 58

THROUGHOUT APRIL 2018, A PORTION OF EVERY TASTING FEE AT PONZI VINEYARDS
WILL BE DONATED TO POST 58.

Post 58 has been selected as our Charity of the Month. This organization is comprised of Portland-area students aged 14-18 who engage in outdoor adventures under the guidance of experienced adults. These outdoor adventures include rock climbing, backpacking, hiking, mountaineering and more in locales around the Northwest.

Their mission is to provide an arena for personal growth and positive social interaction to a diverse group of high school students by creating experiences that foster responsibility, respect and a passion for the outdoors.

Post 58 is a personal passion project of Mia Hamacher. Mia is the daughter of winemaker Luisa Ponzi as well as member and Student President of Post 58. 

"The Post ... has been such a hugely influential and important part of my adolescent life and the lives of many other teens in the Portland area. With nearly 140 current members, and outreach programs through Oregon Foster Services and Janus Youth Programming, the Post provides a uniquely safe and welcoming space, through monthly meetings, with singing, poetry and story sharing, and affordable trips that get teens into the outdoors and encourage independence and accountability.
– 
Mia Hamacher, member and Student President of Post 58

We invite you to visit Ponzi Vineyards this month and join us in support of this valuable organization. A portion of every tasting fee will be donated to Post 58.

Time Posted: Apr 6, 2018 at 10:26 AM
 
February 13, 2018 |

Chardonnay for the New American Palate

Chardonnay fruit at Ponzi VineyardsChardonnay 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.

Ponzi Vineyards Chardonnay: Style and History

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.

Luisa Ponzi examining the harvestOne 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.

harvesting Chardonnay at Ponzi VineyardsVintages 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.

Ponzi Vineyards Chardonnay Accolades
 
Chardonnay
  • 2015 vintage: Wine Enthusiast’s Editor’s Choice
Chardonnay Reserve
  • 2013 vintage: Wine Enthusiast’s Editor’s Choice
  • 2014 vintage: Wine Enthusiast’s Editor’s Choice > "This stellar reserve remains one of the finest Chardonnays from Oregon." – Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast
Aurora Chardonnay
  • 2012 vintage: 96 points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2012 vintage: Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines for 2015
  • 2013 vintage: 95 points, Wine Enthusiast
Avellana Chardonnay
  • 2013 vintage: 95 points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2013 vintage: Wine Enthusiast’s Editor’s Choice
  • 2015 vintage: 95 points, The Tasting Panel
 
“There’s a renaissance happening in Oregon Chardonnay from the state’s Willamette Valley”
– Food & Wine
 
 
Experience More

Appreciate Oregon Chardonnay for yourself with a Ponzi Vineyards vintage.
Read about the 2015 Ponzi Avellana Chardonnay's award of 95 points from The Tasting Panel.
Check out images from the Chardonnay harvest from the Aurora Vineyard.

sunrise at Ponzi Vineyards

Time Posted: Feb 13, 2018 at 12:07 PM
 
February 12, 2018 |

The 2015 Ponzi Avellana Chardonnay Wins 95 Points

2015 Ponzi Avellana Chardonnay

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.

Time Posted: Feb 12, 2018 at 2:12 PM
 
January 31, 2018 |

Pruning to Create the Best Possible Fruit

pruned vine at Ponzi Vineyards

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.

pruning at Ponzi VineyardsWhile 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.

Racing Mother Nature

pruning vines at Ponzi VineyardsThe 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.

pruned and caned row at Ponzi Vineyards

Time Posted: Jan 31, 2018 at 10:48 AM
 
January 23, 2018 |

Bottling the 2017 Ponzi Sparkling Rosé

bottled sparkling wine at Ponzi VineyardsThe 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 at Ponzi VineyardsClean 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!

What’s next for these bottles?

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.

bottling trailer at Ponzi VineyardsThe 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!

Time Posted: Jan 23, 2018 at 10:20 AM
 
January 11, 2018 |

Ponzi Vineyards 2017 Harvest

Ponzi Vineyards 2017 HarvestIt 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!

Time Posted: Jan 11, 2018 at 3:53 PM
 
January 8, 2018 |

Introducing the 2016 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir

2016 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir

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!

2016 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir2016 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 13.8%
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

Purchase Your Bottle Here

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.

Tips for Flawless Wine Service
First Pinot Noir Pressing of the 2017 Season
Oregon’s Willamette Valley: Home of Great Pinot Noir at Any Price

Time Posted: Jan 8, 2018 at 1:27 PM