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.
You can hardly visit the Willamette Valley without visiting some of its famed wineries and that's exactly what I did. Starting at Montinore Estate, one of the state's largest biodynamic/organic wine producers, we visited the stunning tasting room and then stepped into the vineyards for a visit with winemakers Ben Thomas and Stephen Webber.
One taster who left their name off the sheet said 'It tastes like more, as in I definitely want more." They thought the nose was amazing and that it rivaled some well known Pinots from the Willamette Valley and the Santa Rita Hills. Tony said "yum yum yes!"
All of us looked forward to the next offering, the 2008 La Rochelle Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Michael called this "a Pinot for Cab lovers and I like Cab." Amy loved the color, mouth feel and flavor. Ken commented on the garnet color and full nose of raspberries and dark cherries.
We stayed down under for the 2008 Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz from Barossa, Australia. "What a deal", said one of us. Most liked the nose, calling it smoky and earthy. Tony felt it got better as it sat in the glass. At $10 we all felt it was a terrific value.
Verging on sensory overload I approached the final wine, a 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel. Now back in the day a good California Zin was one of my go-to favorites. I eagerly breathed in the familiar aromas of rich raspberry with a hint of cinnamon and cloves. I could picture the gnarley, twisted old vines with their earthiness and pungent leathery smells.