Our History

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A Founding Oregon Winery

Dick and Nancy Ponzi moved their young family to the Willamette Valley in the late 1960s with a spirit of adventure and a passion for making world class Pinot Noir. After many research trips to Burgundy and an extensive search for the ideal location, they purchased 20 acres on a small farm just southwest of Portland, Oregon. It was a daring risk — at the time, the Pacific Northwest was not thought to be a place to grow Pinot Noir, but Dick and Nancy realized the Northern Willamette Valley's climate was ideal for cool climate varieties. Pinot Noir cuttings were planted, and in 1970 Ponzi Vineyards was founded.

The methods, philosophies and winemaking passion established more than 40 years ago are still practiced today under the family's second generation.

Timeline


  • 1970– The founding of Ponzi Vineyards & establishment of the Estate Vineyard.
  • 1974– The first barrels of Ponzi Pinot Noir are produced.
  • 1976– Ponzi wines are introduced to the Portland market with its premier 96 cases of Pinot noir.
  • 1978– The Ponzi family begins planting Pinot gris, a varietal virtually unknown in the US at the time.
  • 1979– The New York Times features Ponzi Pinot Noir, a first for Oregon wines.


  • 1981– The Ponzi family purchases Abetina & Madrona Vineyards- shining starts in the Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve cuvée.
  • 1983– Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve price increases from $10 to $15 per bottle.
  • 1984– The Ponzi family founds Bridgeport Brewing Company, Oregon's first craft brewery and brewpub, and introduces the state's first real pale ale.
  • 1985– Ponzi Pinot Noir is recognized by The Wine Advocate as comparable to the world's finest Burgundies.
  • 1985– After graduating from the University of Oregon, son Michel Ponzi assumes the position of Director of Operations.
  • 1987– Nancy Ponzi is one of the founding directors of the International Pinot Noir Celebration, a 3-day focus on Pinot noir with guests from around the world.
  • 1987– Ponzi Pinot Noir ranks in the Wine Spectator's Top 100 for the first time, a substantial achievement in a year where the national press slammed the Oregon vintage.
  • 1988– Another blockbuster year for Ponzi Pinot Noir, Dick Ponzi is honored by The Wine Advocate as one of the World's Best Winemakers- considered "Oregon's Best Producer."
  • 1989– In a review of the 1989 Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve, Robert Parker notes, "Ponzi continues to make Oregon's most complex Pinot Noir," and associates them with the great wines of Burgundy.


  • 1990– The Ponzi family celebrates the winery's 20th anniversary with an exceptional vintage.
  • 1990– And once again, Ponzi achieves the Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines, and is recognized in the New York Times for the wine's high value.
  • 1991– Daugher Maria Ponzi returns from work in Boston to take the position of Director of Sales & Marketing for Ponzi Vineyards.
  • 1991– The Ponzi family purchases Aurora Vineyard and begins planting the now 80-acre site.
  • 1992– A fonuding member of Women for Winesense, Maria assumes presidency of the Oregon chapter.
  • 1992– Nancy co-founds and co-chairs the ¡Salud! Pinot Noir Auction, which provides Oregon's seasonal vineyard workers access to healthcare services.
  • 1993– Daugher Luisa Ponzi returns from Beaune, France, following her post-graduate enological studies. She receives the certificate Brevet Professionnel D'Oenologie et Viticulture, the first American woman to earn such a prestigious distinction.
  • 1993– Luisa takes the reins of winemaking, completing her first vintage.
  • 1994– All three Ponzi children now assume full time responsibilities and ownership of the winery.
  • 1994– Ponzi Dry Riesling transforms into Vino Gelato, an innovative ice wine.
  • 1994– Ponzi Vineyards releases the first US production of Arneis.
  • 1995– The Ponzi family sells Bridgeport Brewing Company and sets their sights on new ventures.
  • 1995– Wilson Daniels Ltd. begins to manage Ponzi Vineyards' national distribution.
  • 1995– The Ponzi family celebrates 25 years of Oregon winemaking.
  • 1996– The Wine Spectator's 20th Anniversary issue recognizes Dick Ponzi- the only Oregonian- as one of an exclusive list of international wine producers who innovated, perfected, promoted & led the way for higher quality wines.
  • 1996– Ponzi Dolcetto, grown at Aurora Vineyard, is released to market.
  • 1998– The Ponzi family breaks ground and develops a culinary center in Dundee.
  • 1998– The Ponzi Wine Bar opens, offering Ponzi wines along with a stellar selection of Oregon producers.
  • 1999– The Ponzi family opens The Dundee Bistro, a regional restaurant featuring WIllamette Valley cuisine from local farms, ranches & gardens.


  • 2000– Ponzi Vineyards releases its first single vineyard designated Pinot noir, 1998 Abetina.
  • 2000– All Ponzi vineyards are LIVE Certified in accordance with international sustainable viticulture standards.
  • 2000– Nancy is one of the founding directors of Oregon Pinot Camp, a trade-based three day event.
  • 2003– Wine Spectator's September cover story honors Dick Ponzi among six American vintners who have mastered New World Pinot noir.
  • 2003– Ponzi Vineyards releases Tavola Pinot Noir to the national market.
  • 2003– The Ponzi cellar club, Amici di Ponzi is launched.
  • 2004– Dick and Nancy are honored with the Oregon Vintner award (ORVI) for their lifetime achievement in the Oregon wine industry.
  • 2004– Ponzi introduces screwcap technology to its wine production.
  • 2004– The Ponzi family establishes The Oregon Wine Walk of Fame recognizing dynamic individuals who greatly influenced the success of the Oregon wine industry.
  • 2004– Dick and Luisa share a feature spread in Wine Country Living.
  • 2005– Dick Ponzi receives COPIA's Vintner of the Year award in Napa, CA, honoring his accomplishments of nearly four decades.
  • 2005– The Ponzi family renovates the original family home, renaming it "The Vineyard Home," creating an elegant hospitality space.
  • 2006– Ponzi purchases 42 acres of land atop a Chehalem Mountains slope to plant additional vineyards and build a new state-of-the-art winery facility.
  • 2007– Dick and Nancy are recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award from the Oregon Wine Board.
  • 2008– Construction is completed on a 30,000 square foot, state-of-the-art, gravity-flow winery, designed by Dick Ponzi. The new winery debuts with the 2008 vintage.
  • 2009– The Ponzi Vineyards Cookbook, written by Nancy Ponzi, becomes the first published cookbook written by an Oregon vintner.
  • 2007– The Chehalem Mountains AVA is created. The soil classification here is Laurelwood. All Ponzi vineyards, with the exception of the original Estate, are situated on the north slope of the appelation.


  • 2010– Ponzi Vineyards celebrates 40 years of producing world class wines and promoting Oregon's Willamette Valley.
  • 2011– Wine writer Paul Gregutt mentions "Luisa Ponzi... one of the brightest stars among the new generation in Oregon" in the September 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast.
  • 2012– New packaging for the Willamette Valley series debuts with the release of the 2012 Ponzi Pinot Gris.
  • 2012– Winemaker Luisa Ponzi and sister Maria Ponzi, Director of Sales and Marketing, take the reins as the winery's owners and operators, becoming one of the few sister-run wineries in the country.
  • 2013– A state-of-the-art, modern tasting room opens at the site of the winery, establishing the Sherwood property as a wine country destination.
  • 2013– A festive sparkling Pinot noir brut rosé debuts, named "Cin Cin", an Italian sentiment for toasts.
  • 2013– The inaugural single vineyard Chardonnay bottlings, 2010 Ponzi Aurora and Avellana Chardonnays are critic favorites. The Aurora is recognized as an "Editor's Choice" with 94 points from Wine Enthusiast.
  • 2013– Maria Ponzi becomes the 2013 president of Oregon Pinot Camp.
  • 2014– The Wall Street Journal profiles Ponzi Vineyards in an article about the winery, its founders and the path blazed by the second generation.
  • 2014– Cugini, an innovative, non-alcoholic grape juice, is unveiled at the Ponzi tasting rooms and was one of the first of its kind in the valley. Cugini, Italian for "cousins" was inspired by the 8 Ponzi cousins.
  • 2014– Maria Ponzi is promoted to President, overseeing all business operations, as well as sales and marketing for the second generation owned winery.
  • 2014–In the latest edition of The Pocket Wine Book, reknowned wine writer Hugh Johnson notes Ponzi Vineyards as "Legendary producer now in 2nd generation making excellent wines."