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Second Generation Winemaker Celebrates 20th Vintage: Luisa Ponzi

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Second Generation Winemaker Celebrates 20th Vintage: Luisa Ponzi

Submitted By: Jennifer Brown, November 22, 2013
Sherwood, Oregon, November 22, 2013 - Harvest 2013 marks 20 years at the helm for second generation Ponzi Vineyards owner and winemaker, Luisa Ponzi. The milestone brings into focus her two decades of achievements and dedication to the Ponzi Vineyards brand and the region at large.

The family winery, established in 1970 in Beaverton, was founded on the principles of showcasing the bounty of the region by producing some of the nation’s first carefully crafted, high quality, cool-climate Pinot noir. The youngest daughter of winery founders Dick and Nancy carries on this ambition with her innovations in the vineyard and cellar, and an astute understanding of the terroir and vintage variability.

Looking to bring a fresh perspective to the Oregon industry, after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree, Ponzi moved to France in the early 1990s. There she attended and received certification in viticulture and enology from the CFPPA in Beaune, France. She was the first American woman to complete her studies in Beaune. There she refined her palate for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir by tasting in some of the best cellars in the world. She was mentored by and worked with Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier in Chambolle Musigny.

Over the past 20 years, Ponzi has set a precedent in New World Pinot noir production, attracting budding winemakers from around the world to the region to learn her techniques. Notable local producers who have apprenticed with her include Andrew Rich, Josh Bergstrom, Greg McClellan, Thomas Houseman and Remy Drabkin. Beyond Oregon, Matt Dicey of New Zealand’s Mt. Difficulty and Thomas Bachelder of Bachelder Wines in Canada, among countless others who have continued on to found wineries or become winemakers around the world, have worked with Luisa at Ponzi.

Returning to the family winery in 1993, Ponzi promptly began experimenting with vine spacing, trellising, clone and rootstock selection to maximize Oregon’s cool growing seasons. These vineyards, planted on Laurelwood Soil in the Chehalem Mountains, are now entering full maturity. “It is gratifying to see those early trials from my energetic youth are now yielding some of the finest fruit in the valley, but what is even more exciting is to realize the results of those trials and my father’s work before me, have set the stage for our future and informed our decisions as we move forward planting new sites.”

One of Ponzi’s greatest passions is Chardonnay. She has dedicated two decades to the study of Oregon Chardonnay. With some of the oldest, perfectly-suited, Dijon clones in the valley and with the knowledge of proper handling techniques in the cellar, Ponzi Chardonnays have received repeated praise by critics nation-wide. The Ponzi Reserve bottling has been presented at several noted White House dinners and functions through the years. In 2012, Ponzi Vineyards unveiled the addition of two single vineyard Chardonnays to the portfolio: Avellana and Aurora.

In 2008, Luisa and Dick Ponzi designed and built a state-of-the-art winemaking facility. The four-level, gravity-flow winery brings their vision for the Ponzi winemaking program full circle, enabling efficient and gentle processing. The 30,000 square foot winery allowed Ponzi Vineyards to carefully expand production and enter into the international market, while continuing to ferment in small lots, staying committed to their rigorous quality standards.

Ponzi has received critical acclaim for her benchmark Pinot noirs and Chardonnays. She achieves consistency and balance each vintage through her deft blending abilities. By matching thoughtfully farmed fruit with proper barrel selection and innovative practices in the cellar, she works with a palette of lots to showcase the vintage and stay true to the house style.

For more than 40 years, Ponzi Vineyards has practiced a philosophy of innovation, experimentation, sustainability and achieving consistent excellence in their wines. Over the past 20 years, the winery and vineyards have been operated by the second generation under these same principles. In June of 2013, a modern new tasting room and offices opened at the same property as the winery, effectively moving the entire business operation from the original Estate in Beaverton to Sherwood.

Contact: Laurel Dent, 503.628.1227 or laurel@ponziwines.com