Behind every bottle of Ponzi wine is more than four decades of winemaking discovery and innovation. Two generations have carried the passion for producing world class wines in Oregon and remain commmitted to a sustainable and thriving business.
If there was going to be another winemaker in the family, it was going to be Luisa. Even as a child, Luisa's interests in the sciences, and her father's work in the vineyard and cellar set her on a path toward one day joining the family business. After graduating from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science, Luisa went abroad, apprenticing with several well-known Burgundian and Italian producers. She was the first American woman to receive her certificate in enology and viticulture in Beaune, France. There she gained insight and understanding of the treasured Burgundian winemaking practices.
Upon returning to the family vineyard in 1993, Luisa proudly took the reins from her father, crafting her first vintage of Ponzi wine. Combining her formal studies with the experience she gained working with her father, Luisa brought fresh perspective to winemaking at Ponzi. Acting on her observation that wine quality is enhanced by a variety of influences, Luisa experiments with grapes from various elevations, soil types, clones, spacing and trellis systems. All these variables give her a beautiful palette of flavors, structures, aromas and textures to create the final blends.
Nationally recognized as one of the most formidable winemakers in the country, Luisa's reputation for innovation and excellence casts her at the forefront of Oregon's winemaking prominence.
Collina del Sogno - “Hillside of our dreams”
Designed by Dick Ponzi and completed in 2008, the new Ponzi Vineyards winery is a sustainable, four-level gravity-flow facility atop one of the Chehalem Mountains slopes. The facility maximizes the natural contours of the site for light, temperature control, gravity-flow processing, water retention and recycling. Collina del Sogno was one of the first Oregon facilities awarded the LIVE Winery Certification, meeting LIVE specifications for an eco-friendly building and sustainable winemaking practices.
The use of gravity is integral to Luisa's winemaking practices. The new winery is built into the slope of the mountainside, allowing for each stage of production to be one level below the other. Pipes built into each level allow wine to flow effortlessly from the crush pad to fermentation, then to the barrel room and finally bottling. "Gravity flow" eliminates unnecessary use of forceful pumps or pressure to move the wine from one stage to the next, which is critical in preserving varietal character and retaining every bit of fruit and aroma.
1. Crush Pad
Fruit arrives to the crush pad the same day it is picked. The crew then quickly gets the fruit to the sorting table, removing unwanted berries and foliage by hand. The reds are then destemmed without crushing to protect and retain the effects of whole berry fermentation. White varieties are pressed whole cluster to retain the freshness and varietal character while avoiding any harshness resulting from the use of a crusher.
The fermentation level sits below the crush pad and makes up the largest square footage of the building. Ample space allows for small lot fermentations. Native yeasts are encouraged as well as spontaneous malolactic fermentations.
3. Barrel and Tank Rooms
On the third level of the building is the stainless steel tank room and the barrel room. The barrel room is temperature controlled, with large garage doors sectioning it off from the rest of the floor. The barrel room currently holds nearly 800 full barrels and also houses long-term, barrel aging reserve wines. Barrels are all of French origin, purchased from a variety of coopers whose select toasts and forests are tailored to the special characteristics of each Ponzi vineyard.
4. Warehouse and Bottling
The lowest level of the facility is home to the bottling line and the warehouse where finished wines wait to be shipped to their final destinations. It can take a wine anywhere from 6 months to over 2 years to get to this point.
Since its founding in 1970, Ponzi Vineyards has practiced winemaking that is grounded in a remarkable balance between innovation and tradition. In the vineyard and the cellar, gentle handling and a deep respect for varietal integrity are the foundation of their winemaking philosophy. While the LIVE Certification ensures a balanced and sustainable eco-system in the vineyard, Ponzi Vineyards also maintains for a sustainable workforce through high wages, full-time employment and healthcare options.