Laurel Dent greeted us and told us the history of this family owned winery while I sipped on their end product. In 1969, Dick and Nancy Ponzi moved from Los Gatos, in what would become the Silicon Valley, to Beaverton, bought a strawberry farm and planted 12 acres of wine grapes. Even though they had little to no experience in the wine industry, they dreamed of producing world class Pinot Noir. In 1970 the Ponzis planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and a few other ‘experimental’ varietals. After the experiments proved less than stellar, they grafted those vines over to Pinot Gris in 1980. Ponzi Vineyards is the epitome of a family business. After running the winery and promoting Oregon wine for 20 years, they handed the winemaking duties to daughter Luisa in 1993. Luisa was one of the first women to study winemaking in Beaune, France. Around the same time, her brother and sister joined the family business.
Dick and Nancy are still very much hands on and spend time at the winery every day. Dick conceptualized and designed the new facility. Daughter Maria handles sales and marketing and son Michel is the CEO. The family is very conscious of the environment and they are LIVE certified sustainable and ‘salmon safe.’ All of their wines except for their reserve wines have screw top enclosures. During my visit I tasted all of their current releases and was impressed by every single one. If you plan a visit to the Willamette Valley next summer, pay a visit to their brand new tasting room.
For dinner we went to Hall Street Grill in Beaverton and enjoyed an appetizer of roasted garlic with Cambazola cheese. I enjoyed a grilled steelhead for dinner accompanied by an ’06 Dukes ‘Thomas’ Pinot Noir. Dinner was outstanding and it was a perfect ending to the first day of many more to come.