Open Daily, 11am-5pm | 19500 SW Mountain Home Rd, Sherwood OR 97140

Our Identity

A Legacy of Innovation

Ponzi Vineyards’ pioneering spirit and uncompromising approach stands unwavering after more than 50 years. 

Our History

Founders Dick and Nancy Ponzi moved to the Willamette Valley in the late 1960s with a spirit of adventure and a dream to produce world-class, cool climate-grown Pinot Noir.

After an extensive search for just the right place, they invested everything they had into a small 20-acre farm on the northern end of the verdant Willamette Valley. They planted their first vines in 1968, establishing Ponzi Vineyards at a time when there were only a small number of other wineries in the region, forever solidifying their place as Oregon wine pioneers.

As the winery grew, the family constructed a sustainably focused gravity-flow winery in 2008 and a state-of-the-art tasting room in 2013. Ponzi Vineyards’ low-intervention, natural approach to winemaking and viticulture, along with consistent high-level acclaim and accolades, have kept the brand as a vanguard Oregon producer.

In May 2021, Groupe Bollinger acquired Ponzi Vineyards—the family-owned company’s first property outside France—bringing new life and opportunity to the winery. Ponzi Vineyards continues to elevate the elemental, bringing a harmonious contrast to the wild land we farm and the sophistication of the wines we produce—simultaneously natural and refined, pure, earthy, and artistic.

Winemaking

Since its founding in 1970, Ponzi Vineyards has practiced winemaking grounded in a remarkable balance between innovation and tradition. In the vineyard and the cellar, gentle handling and a deep respect for varietal integrity are the foundations of our winemaking philosophy.

Guided by a combination of traditional winemaking techniques and modern innovation, our winemakers carefully usher grapes from vineyard to bottle to preserve and showcase the purity and elegance of the fruit. Our commitment to minimal intervention allows the special terroir of our region to shine through, creating wines that tell a story of both time and place.

Luisa Ponzi

Legacy Winemaker

Luisa grew up in the vineyards of Oregon, learning how to cultivate grapes and craft world-class wines from her father, Ponzi founder Dick Ponzi. Luisa graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science. Following her undergraduate studies, she moved to Beaune, France, to continue her education. There, she received her post-graduate degree in viticulture and enology from the CFPPA in Beaune, becoming the first non-French woman to do so.

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In 1993, she brought her knowledge of Burgundian practices back to Oregon, combining old-world knowledge with her personal experience working alongside her father, Dick Ponzi, at their Willamette Valley winery.

Throughout her career, Luisa introduced innovative and progressive techniques to Ponzi Vineyards, continually improving quality and earning numerous awards and accolades along the way. A driving force in making Chardonnay a key variety in Oregon, Luisa was also a founding member of the Oregon LIVE certification. She pioneered the technique of clonal-massale, ensuring lasting complexity and quality in the Ponzi vineyards and resulting wines.

Luisa was instrumental in the creation of the Laurelwood District AVA, forever solidifying the land she helped establish as a unique winegrowing region. 

In 2024, Luisa transitioned her role to Legacy Winemaker, and begins a year of mentoring, coaching and guiding her long-term team to take the helm. 

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Max Bruening

Winemaker

A Northern Michigan native, Max embarked on his wine career in 2009, gaining invaluable experience with various Michigan wineries. Seeking to broaden his horizons, Max spent some transformative time working harvests in both California and New Zealand. In 2015, driven by a desire to explore cool climate varieties, Max made the pivotal decision to immerse himself in Oregon’s wine scene.

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That year, Max participated in his first Oregon harvest with Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, an experience that solidified his passion for Oregon wines. Drawn to the state’s unique terroir and winemaking ethos, he eagerly joined the Ponzi Vineyards team in January 2016. Over the years, Max has navigated through nearly every position in the cellar, showcasing his dedication to the craft.

Max is not just a skilled winemaker; he is also a fervent advocate of low-intervention winemaking and sustainable farming practices. He understands that crafting exceptional wines is an intricate dance between nature and nurture. With a deep appreciation for the delicate balance required, Max is focused on ensuring each bottle reflects the essence of Oregon’s remarkable terroir.

In 2024, Max became the first person outside of the Ponzi family to hold the esteemed title of winemaker. 

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Julia Cresto

Assistant Winegrower

Julia Cresto moved north from San Diego, CA. to pursue a degree in Fermentation Science at Oregon State University. During her college years, Julia traveled to Italy, where she became enamored with the science and artistry of winemaking and grape growing. Fueled by this passion, she dedicated herself to learning the intricate nuances of winemaking styles and grape cultivation, gaining experience in Napa, New Zealand, Australia, and Oregon. 

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Through Julia’s travels, she remained resolute in her commitment to apply her knowledge in crafting exceptional Oregon wines that uniquely capture a moment in time.

Joining the Ponzi team in 2018, Julia initially worked in the cellar and lab. Over time, she advanced to roles as Enologist and then Assistant Winemaker. Currently, Julia has taken on a new dual role as Assistant Winegrower, contributing both to the winery and vineyards. Her favorite aspect of the winemaking process is meticulously crafting wines with respect for the vineyards. Julia firmly believes that each site and wine has its own story to tell, evolving, much like ourselves, with time and nurturing.

In her spare time, Julia actively contributes to her family’s farm, participating in raising livestock and cultivating wine grapes. An avid gardener, she enjoys skiing and immersing herself in any outdoor activity that allows her to appreciate nature.

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Winemaking Facility

Designed by Dick Ponzi and completed in 2008, the Ponzi Vineyards winery is a sustainable, four-level gravity-flow facility atop a Chehalem Mountains slope. The facility maximizes the natural contours of the site for light, temperature control, gravity-flow processing, water retention, and recycling. The winery was one of the first Oregon facilities awarded the LIVE Winery Certification, meeting LIVE specifications for an eco-friendly building and sustainable winemaking practices.

The use of gravity is integral to Ponzi winemaking practices. The winery is built into the slope of the mountainside, allowing each stage of production to be one level below the other. Pipes built into each level allow wine to flow effortlessly from the crush pad to fermentation, then to the barrel room, and finally bottling. Gravity flow eliminates the unnecessary use of forceful pumps or pressure to move the wine from one stage to the next, critical in preserving varietal character and retaining fruit purity.

1. Crush Pad

Fruit arrives to the crush pad the same day it is picked. The crew then quickly gets the fruit to the sorting table, removing unwanted berries and foliage by hand. The reds are then destemmed without crushing to protect and retain the effects of whole berry fermentation. White varieties are pressed whole cluster to retain the freshness and varietal character while avoiding any harshness resulting from the use of a crusher. 

2. Fermentation

The fermentation level sits below the crush pad and makes up the largest square footage of the building. Ample space allows for small lot fermentations. Native yeasts are encouraged as well as spontaneous malolactic fermentations.

3. Barrel and Tank Rooms

On the third level of the building is the stainless steel tank room and the barrel room. The barrel room is temperature controlled, with large garage doors sectioning it off from the rest of the floor. The barrel room holds around 800 full barrels and also houses long-term, barrel aging reserve wines. Barrels are all of French origin, purchased from a variety of coopers whose select toasts and forests are tailored to the special characteristics of each Ponzi vineyard.

4. Warehouse and Bottling

The lowest level of the facility is home to the bottling line and the warehouse where finished wines wait to be shipped to their final destinations. It can take a wine anywhere from 6 months to over 2 years to get to this point.

Winery Sustainability Features

  • Gravity flow winemaking process

  • Waste & storm water reused for irrigation

  • Indirect natural lighting

  • Energy efficient fluorescent lights

  • Reflective zinc-alum metal roof

  • Solar paneling on winery roof 

  • Cool evening air used for natural ventilation

  • Landscaping features drought resistant native plant species

  • 80% of building is buried to regulate temperatures naturally