JP Pierce

JP Pierce

Assistant Winemaker

With a successful 6-year stint in US Nuclear Navy followed by a seasoned history in the Bay Area’s Food & Beverage Industry, JP put himself through UC Davis’ Viticulture & Enology program.  Immediately following graduation, he and his wife Heidi packed up the important belongings, sold the rest, and traveled abroad to make Rieslings in Germany and Bordeaux style Reds in South Africa.

Influenced by great wines and long time friends, JP followed his dream to make wine in Oregon. Having worked with a number of winemakers in the Willamette Valley, he is feeling right at home here in Oregon. On any given morning you might see him “storming” Mt. Tabor on bike before work or scanning the booths at the Saturday PSU Farmers Market for his next great meal.

Anna Maria Ponzi

Anna Maria Ponzi

President/Director of Sales and Marketing

Maria, second generation vintner, is President and Director of Sales and Marketing of Ponzi Vineyards, located in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The winery was founded in 1970 by her parents Dick and Nancy Ponzi.

Growing up the daughter of a pioneering wine family, Maria has had the rare advantage of being directly involved in all areas of the wine business. Seeing the region grow firsthand, she gained a depth of knowledge that allows her to uniquely serve the state’s wine industry.

Her current focus is growing the family business in the modern age of global wine sales. Maria oversees the winery’s three tasting rooms, national distribution and exports. She has been operating the company with her sister, the winemaker, for over 20 years.

Maria currently sits on the board of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association and Travel Portland. In 2013, she was the President of Oregon Pinot Camp. She has served extended terms on Oregon Travel Experience and the Oregon Wine Board. In 1992, she was a founding board member and later President of the Oregon Chapter of Women for WineSense.

A graduate from the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon in 1987, her studies included a year each at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and the Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. Post-graduation, Maria worked in the publishing industry in Boston before returning home to the wine business.
 

Luisa Ponzi

Luisa Ponzi

Winemaker

Luisa combines her formal winemaking experience with her lifelong work with her father, Dick Ponzi, at their Willamette Valley vineyards and winery. Since 1993, Luisa has brought her knowledge of Burgundian practices combined with her personal experience to the family-owned winery.

Luisa continues to educate herself through contacts with winemakers around the world, frequent winery tastings and vineyard and winemaking conferences. She currently sits on the advisory board of the Northwest Enology and Viticulture Center in Salem, Oregon.

Luisa has been honored with awards and accolades; all contributing to Ponzi’s heightened stature in the national arena. She, her husband, fellow winemaker Eric Hamacher, and their four children reside atop Chehalem Mountain with commanding views of the glorious valley.

For 17 vintages, Luisa’s passion and winemaking talent have continued Ponzi Vineyards’ 40-year acclaimed tradition of producing some of the world’s finest wines.

Miguel Ortiz

Miguel Ortiz

Vineyard Manager

Miguel has managed the viticulture program at Ponzi for over ten years. He began at Ponzi as a member of the vineyard crew and moved his way up to manager. Miguel is best known for his calm demeanor. Even when apocalyptic rains barrage the vineyards or scorching heat threatens to burn and blister nearly ripe fruit, he maintains his composure. One can only imagine the whirlwind of thoughts and constant problem solving that must go on in his head.

On the rare occasion that Miguel takes a break, he can put all his worries aside to enjoy a relaxing drive through the open country. And if he can really get away, you may find him with his feet kicked up enjoying a glass of Dolcetto and plate of steaming spaghetti.

Laurel Carroll

Laurel Carroll

Marketing Manager

Laurel made an ever-so-agreeable transition from the mortgage industry to the wine industry in 2008. A California native, she soaks up as much rain as she possibly can. On an average day at Ponzi, you might find Laurel trudging through the muddy vineyard rows to interview Miguel on the upcoming growing season, or attempting to evoke inspiration for a marketing piece from the stunning view outside her office window. To say the least, the outdoors keeps Laurel well supplied with an everlasting enthusiasm for the Pacific Northwest and Oregon wine country.

Whether rain or shine, a weekend trip to the beach, the mountains or just the nearby river is typically in order. Laurel's backyard is her retreat in the summer months. She treasures tending to her vegetable garden and trimming the roses. After a long day in the yard she finds nothing more enjoyable than cracking into some fresh Dungeness crab, from a recent fishing trip to the Oregon coast, with a glass of bubbles, preferably pink and locally produced, to toast.

Kati Focareto

Kati Focareto

Director of Hospitality and Events

If there was a queen of perfection at Ponzi, Kati would reign. As the Director of Hospitality and Events, Kati has mastered the art of thinking on her feet. In a moment’s notice she can wistfully relocate outdoor events inside, setting and resetting the tables when parties go from 40 to 50 guests and back again, all with a bright smile and her naturally cheery disposition shining through.

A life-long lover of literature, when Kati entered the wine industry she began reading every book under the sun to learn more about wine and quickly soaked up the knowledge... and lots of delightful wine along the way.

Every once in a while, Kati enjoys a time out from the wine world to play with her three spunky Vizslas and relax with her husband. Kati finds pleasure in the outdoors, especially hiking the Columbia River Gorge, swimming in Hawaii and daydreaming about a view of the Mediterranean from a sunny patio in Greece; crisp glass of wine, homemade Caprese salad and birds chirping overhead to top it off.

Jeff Newlin

Jeff Newlin

Accountant

Jeff comes to the company with a medley of experience. As an accountant, he’s dedicated a good number of years crunching numbers for businesses in a variety of industries, but he has also worked in jobs as eclectic as bartender, grocery clerk, waiter and yes, even geoduck diver tender... which we recommend "Googling".

Though Jeff is no longer involved in the mysterious world that lies in the depths of the Puget Sound, he does enjoy all things outdoors; from hiking and canoeing, to travelling and camping with his family. Though a sucker for the landscapes of Washington State, his travels have taken him as far as an unforgettable, sun-drenched terrace on the isle of Capri. On the rainiest days in Oregon he longingly recalls this memory of enjoying a leisurely meal and a most satisfying glass of Chianti Classico.

Jeff Mathews

Jeff Mathews

Direct Sales Manager

Jeff is likely the most recognizable face and personality of the Ponzi Vineyards tasting room. After narrowly escaping the clutches of LA's concrete jungle and a successful but demanding career in high end Residential Interior Design, Jeff found a niche as a Ponzi wine ambassador.  The tasting room is, by Jeff's definition and design, a "happy place" for all guests.

When he's not convincing the sourest of visitors to crack a smile, Jeff tees up for a round of golf or hits the slopes for a day of skiing in the winter months. And on the days in between you might run into him jetting around wine country tasting at his favorite wineries.

Jeff's own happy place is swaying on a hammock with a glass of Pinot Noir Rosé after a long, fruitful day of gardening.

Erin Meeker

Erin Meeker

Office Manager

Erin fearlessly manages what can only be described as the mysteries of the administrative office. Armed with a cheerful smile and strong conviction, she is known for accomplishing more in one day than a small city. When Erin is not bravely tackling state tax and shipping compliance and indecipherable office equipment orders, she spends time with her husband and new baby girl. You can often catch them strolling the streets of the Rose City snapping photos of old homes and dreaming about incorporating their favorite details into their own home one day. And when Erin just wants to get away from it all, she pours herself a glass of perfectly chilled Pinot Blanc and goes out to her flower garden to enjoy a warm summer evening with family and friends.

Brenna Patterson

Brenna Patterson

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

The newest recruit to the Ponzi team, Brenna Patterson, is a sales and marketing aficionado, bursting with spirit and enthusiasm for Oregon wine. As a graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, she couldn’t avoid the allure of the region’s thriving wine industry. She jumped into her role at Ponzi feet first, bringing a dynamic repertoire of talents, including mad Excel and Twitter skills. Find Brenna soaking up the sun on a hike or on the basketball court. She cherishes gatherings with her big Irish family which always include good food and a bottle of Oregon Pinot.

Brenda Nelson

Brenda Nelson

Accounting Assistant

For nearly a decade, Brenda has been the smiling soldier of the accounting deparment. She came to Ponzi after a four year break from accounting to stay home and watch her children grow. On the off chance that she and her husband are able to escape for a weekend, you’ll find them exploring the beautiful Oregon Coast. Through the summer months there is nowhere more relaxing to Brenda than sitting on her back patio, Pinot Gris in hand and her husband nearby for good conversation after a long day at the office.

Nancy Ponzi

Nancy Ponzi

Founder

Nancy was born in Southern California, but grew up all over the world. Her father worked in the oil business, which took her to exotic areas of the globe like the jungles of Venezuela, the San Angel District of Mexico and the Ozarks of Arkansas. She studied at The University of Mexico, Mexico City; El Camino College and West Valley College in California. In Palo Alto, she completed the Association Montessori Internationale Primary Education Course. Her emphasis was in Spanish, English and Primary Education.

She married Dick Ponzi in 1961. Their mutual love of food, wine and family made their union "storybook" and naturally lead them down a path overwhelmed with the culinary arts. An overly ambitious woman, she has a steady record of taking on "never before attempted" projects and gracefully turning each of them into great successes.

Before moving to Oregon, she held offices in the Pan (Latin) American Round Table and was a teacher's assistant at the Villa Montessori School in Cupertino, California. In Oregon, she continued teaching at West Hills Montessori School. At Portland Community College, she taught yoga, wine appreciation, ethnic and basic cooking. Her culinary classes extended to local cooking schools, television shows and a weekly wine show on the radio. Teaching was only one of many activities Nancy pursued after replanting the family in the Willamette Valley. She co-founded The Consumers' Food Council, which promotes environmental concerns of food and agriculture and the then novel concepts of recycling, ingredient labeling and a legal definition of organic. This led to becoming a registered environmental lobbyist at the Oregon Legislature. She wrote a weekly column for the Hillsboro Argus, was President of the Washington County Women's Federation, held various offices in the Oregon Winegrowers Association and was a founding Director on the Board of Washington County Visitors Association.

An exceptional and committed mother of three, Nancy not only raised them, but concurrently managed a small farm complete with chickens, goats, horses, ducks, geese, and cows (Scottish Highlanders, no less). All this while building the family's wine business and helping to create a foundation for the state's wine industry.

In addition to being one of the first marketers of Oregon wine in the country, she was a founding Director of the Washington County Wineries Association and was instrumental in establishing the Oregon Wine Advisory Board. Nancy has contributed to the conception and establishment of Oregon's most successful wine events and has played a vital role in promoting the Willamette Valley as a viable wine region. One of the most widely recognized events is the International Pinot Noir Celebration. This is Oregon's premiere wine event which brings together winemakers and aficionados from around the world to discuss, taste and explore Pinot Noir. Nancy also co-founded Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction, a hugely profitable fundraising event of unique cuves from Oregon's most prized vintners. All proceeds provide low cost healthcare for vineyard workers and their families. Most recently Nancy helped found Oregon Pinot Camp, an exclusive event that privately invites the wine trade to the valley for three days to learn "first hand" about Pinot Noir.

In 1998 she helped to found the Ponzi Wine Bar in Dundee, showcasing some of the region's very finest wines alongside Ponzi wines. In 1999 The Dundee Bistro, one of the area's most successful regional restaurants was born under her direction. Both the wine bar and bistro have become the center of wine country, inviting travelers from around the world and neighboring winegrowers to enjoy the marriage of regional food, wine and good spirit.

Nancy remains active in most Oregon wine industry promotions and is integral to marketing Ponzi and the region. Her current focus, in addition to caring for and nurturing her eight grandchildren, is in creating an innovative cookbook. Her vision is to share her love for the culinary arts, blending her expert cooking techniques that range from Latin American fare to Italian cuisine, while exploring a range of complementary wines. She currently contributes her private recipes to the Cellar Club newsletter each quarter.

Richard Ponzi

Richard Ponzi

Founder

Born the third son of an Italian immigrant couple in 1934, Dick Ponzi was raised in Michigan. Typical to most Italian families, meals were considered sacred. Wine was always served and made at home. The flavors, sensations, and values of Dick's family traditions followed him throughout his life and professional ambitions.

Following high school graduation, Dick worked a variety of jobs, including employment with the Ford Motor Company, to support himself through college. He graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 1959. He immediately moved to California where he worked in the aerospace industry as a structural design engineer. Later, he founded Seroc Corporation in Los Gatos, California, and designed and developed equipment to process light-weight, high strength building materials. Dick also held the position of project engineer for a firm that designed and fabricated theme park rides for DisneyLand and DisneyWorld.

In 1969, he moved to Portland, Oregon and founded Ponzi Vineyards one year later, one of the premier wineries in the state. From the first vintage in 1974, Dick has set the standards for enological and viticultural innovation. His mechanical engineering background has proven a great asset through his many years of winemaking. He fabricated machinery and winemaking techniques in his cellar now commonplace in many wineries across the globe. He planted some of the first Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley in the late '60's, and some of the first commercial plantings of Pinot Gris in 1978. He has guided plantings of cool-climate varietals throughout the valley since the early '70's, encouraging others to plant and build a quality wine industry in Oregon.

Dick was a founding member and first president of the Oregon Winegrowers Association. In 1987, he served as a founding Director of the Oregon Wine Advisory Board (now Oregon Wine Board). In the early years in Oregon, he worked as a Professor of Engineering at Portland Community College to support the growing winery business and family.

In 1984, he and his wife Nancy founded Oregon's first craftbrewery, BridgePort Brewing Company. Ponzi designed and fabricated the first craftbrewing system in the state, a system which has since been duplicated several times over by craftbreweries across the country. In 1998, Dick and Nancy founded a culinary center in Dundee - encompassing the Ponzi Wine Bar, a regional wine tasting room, and The Dundee Bistro, a local restaurant that features fresh Willamette Valley cuisine.

Constantly innovating, designing, constructing, and crafting, Dick's most recent pursuit satisfied a 40 year old dream of creating a state-of-the-art, sustainable winemaking facility. The new winery, Collina del Sogno, was completed just in time for the 2008 Harvest . Outside the family business, Dick devotes a large part of his time to a multitude of other interests-one he most treasures is time spent with his eight grandchildren.

Michel Ponzi

Michel Ponzi

Co-Owner

For over twenty years, Michel Ponzi has helped to grow the family winery from a garage based operation to its current state-of-the-art operation, producing nearly 40,000 cases of wine annually. The business has thrived through his contributions of introducing technological innovation and infrastructure to the growing company.

2013 brings transition, as Michel has decided to step down from his position in hopes of pursuing his lifelong passion of song writing, film scoring and music production. Although still an owner of the company, he now resides in Italy with his wife and two children.

Ponzi Vineyards continues to be owned and operated by Maria and Luisa Ponzi. Their parents and winery founders, Dick and Nancy remain active owners as well.
 

Maria Ponzi

Maria Ponzi

President

Maria, second generation vintner, is President and Director of Sales and Marketing of Ponzi Vineyards, located in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The winery was founded in 1970 by her parents Dick and Nancy Ponzi.

Growing up the daughter of a pioneering wine family, Maria has had the rare advantage of being directly involved in all areas of the wine business. Seeing the region grow firsthand, she gained a depth of knowledge that allows her to uniquely serve the state’s wine industry.

Her current focus is growing the family business in the modern age of global wine sales. Maria oversees the winery’s three tasting rooms, national distribution and exports. She has been operating the company with her sister, the winemaker, for over 20 years.

Maria currently sits on the board of Travel Portland and Oregon Pinot Camp. In 2013, she was the President of Oregon Pinot Camp. She has served extended terms on Oregon Travel Experience, the Oregon Wine Board and Willamette Valley Wineries Association. In 1992, she was a founding board member and later President of the Oregon Chapter of Women for WineSense.

A graduate from the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon in 1987, her studies included a year each at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and the Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. Post-graduation, Maria worked in the publishing industry in Boston before returning home to the wine business.
 

Luisa Ponzi

Luisa Ponzi

Winemaker

Luisa Ponzi graduated from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science. Following her undergraduate studies, Luisa moved to Beaune, France, where she continued her education in viticulture and enology. As part of the required curriculum, Luisa apprenticed with Burgundian producer, M. Christophe Roumier of Domaine Roumier of Chambolle Musigny, France as well as with Italian producer Luca Currado of Vietti in Piedmont, Italy. In 1993, Luisa was awarded the Certficate Brevet Professionnel D’Oenologie et Viticulture, at the time the only American woman to earn such distinction.  In addition to her formal studies of enology and viticulture, Luisa has traveled extensively throughout other prominent wine regions including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Slovenia and the United States.

Luisa combines her formal winemaking experience with her lifelong work with her father, Dick Ponzi, at their Willamette Valley vineyards and winery. Since 1993, Luisa has brought her knowledge of Burgundian practices combined with her personal experience to the family-owned winery.

Luisa continues to educate herself through contacts with winemakers around the world, frequent winery tastings and vineyard and winemaking conferences. She currently sits on the advisory board of the Northwest Enology and Viticulture Center in Salem, Oregon.

Luisa has been honored with awards and accolades, all contributing to Ponzi’s heightened stature in the national arena. She, her husband, fellow winemaker Eric Hamacher, and their four children reside atop Chehalem Mountain with commanding views of the glorious valley.

For more than 20 vintages, Luisa’s passion and winemaking talent have continued Ponzi Vineyards’ 40-year acclaimed tradition of producing some of the world’s finest wines.

 

"Legendary producer now in 2nd generation making excellent wines."
–Hugh Johnson, September 2013

"Luisa Ponzi... one of the brightest starts among the new generation in Oregon."
–Paul Gregutt, September 2011

“Ponzi Vineyards remains a reference point for American Pinot Noir with winemaker Luisa Ponzi at the top of her game.”
– Robert M. Parker’s The Wine Advocate October 2008

“By adding academic knowledge to her unparalleled experience learning from her father, Luisa Ponzi has become one of the most formidable winemakers in the country.”
– Oregon Wine Report, June 2002