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

Our Terroir

Nestled in the picturesque Laurelwood District AVA of Oregon, Ponzi Vineyards is not just a place; it’s a celebration of the unique and dynamic terroir that defines our wines.

From the rolling hills of our vineyards and rich soil at our feet to the cool winds that sweep through the vines, every element contributes to the creation of wines that tell a story of artistry, tradition, style, and the unyielding spirit of this extraordinary place.

Laurelwood District AVA
Our Vineyards
Vintage History
WIllamette Valley AVA

Avellana Vineyard in the Laurelwood District AVA

The Laurelwood District AVA

Ponzi’s estate vineyards lie entirely within the Laurelwood District AVA, nestled within the broader Chehalem Mountains AVA in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Lending name to the region, the Laurelwood soil series here is distinctive and known to produce wines of great elegance and complexity.

Found exclusively in the northern edges of the Willamette Valley, the Laurelwood soil series consists of windblown loess atop ancient basalt bedrock. This composition yields wines with abundant spice notes—white pepper, anise, cardamom, and cola. The wines exhibit a beautiful structure, featuring dark, brambly tannins.

Soil composition in the region fluctuates depending upon elevation, and further adds to the inherent complexity in finshed wines. In the first 10-15 years of a vine’s life, the loess layer is dominant, resulting in wines with redder fruit flavors and a lighter structure. The duration of influence depends upon topsoil depth, with lower elevations having thicker loess layers—up to 6 feet—maintaining loess characteristics longer. Higher elevations, with only 6 inches of topsoil, shift to the basalt layer more quickly, revealing darker, richer flavors in wines.

Our Vineyards

Ponzi Vineyards sustainably farms nearly 150 acres, all but 10 of which are found within the boundaries of the Laurelwood District AVA in the beautiful rolling hills of the Chehalem Mountains. All of Ponzi’s estate vineyards proudly hold the prestigious LIVE Certified Sustainable designation, recognized globally as one of the highest standards for sustainable viticulture and enology.

Live Certified Sustainable logo

Avellana Vineyard

AVA: Laurelwood District 
Year Planted: 2006
Elevation: 340′-600′
Soil Type: Laurelwood
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris

Aurora Vineyard

AVA: Laurelwood District 
Year Planted: 1991
Elevation: 300′-600′
Soil Type: Laurelwood 
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Arneis, Dolcetto, Gewurztraminer, Muscat

Abetina Vineyard 

AVA: Laurelwood District 
Year Planted: 1975
Elevation: 450′-500′
Soil Type: Laurelwood
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir 

Madrona Vineyard

AVA: Laurelwood District
Year Planted: 1985
Elevation: 300′-600′
Soil Type: Laurelwood
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris

Paloma Vineyard

AVA: Laurelwood District 
Year Planted: 2012
Elevation: 800′-900′
Soil Type: Laurelwood
Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Issimo Vineyard

AVA: Laurelwood District 
Year Planted: 2018
Elevation: 800′-900′
Soil Type: Laurelwood
Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Historic Estate Vineyard

AVA: Willamette Valley  
Year Planted: 1970
Elevation: 100′ – 200′
Soil Type: Yamhill Silt Loam
Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling

Vintage History

Explore the vintages that have shaped the wines of Ponzi Vineyards going back to 1975

Explore Vintages

The Willamette Valley

For over 35 million years, western Oregon was submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean, slowly accumulating layers of marine sediment. Roughly 12 million years ago, plate tectonics altered this tranquil setting when the Pacific Plate collided with the North America Plate, gradually uplifting the region. This geological shift resulted in the creation of the Coastal Range and the volcanic Cascades Range to the east, forming the Willamette Valley between them, with marine sediment comprising the valley floor.

During this period of upheaval, lava from the Cascades Range flowed down the Columbia Gorge, covering the valley floor’s marine sediment with layers of basalt. Ongoing tectonic pressure caused the Willamette Valley to buckle and tilt, giving rise to numerous hills. The subsequent geological event involved the accumulation of wind-blown silt (loess) on the northeast-facing hills, beginning around a million years ago during the last Ice Age. This silt originated from the valley floor’s basalts and marine sediments, weathered over eons.

Later, at the end of the last ice age, the melting of a glacial dam near present-day Missoula, Montana, led to repetitive flooding of the Willamette Valley. This created a lake up to the 400-foot contour level, leaving behind fertile silt deposits.

The Willamette Valley now boasts a diverse array of soil formations with varying origins: marine sediments, lava-derived basalt, Ice Age loess, and Missoula Flood deposits from glacial melting. Although considered an ideal region for growing Pinot Noir, not every acre in the Willamette Valley is suitable. Deep valley-floor soils, brought by the Missoula Floods from Montana, are fertile for a variety of crops but pose challenges for Pinot Noir. The Ponzi family discovered this very early in their pioneering journey, and since 1975 all Ponzi estate vineyards have been planted high up on the hillsides to capture the magic of Laurelwood soil.

Learn More at WVWA Website