Ponzi Vineyards was critical in bringing the world’s attention to the Willamette Valley; the family-owned winery, established in 1969, defied nay-sayers by producing Pinot Noir in Oregon’s wine country, which was once deemed “too cold” for ample grape production. On Wednesday, a press release announced that the pioneering winery had been sold to the owners of Champagne Bollinger, marking the iconic French company’s first venture into the United States.
Founders Dick and Nancy Ponzi handed over control of the estate to their daughters, Anna Maria Ponzi and Luisa Ponzi, almost 30 years ago. They now serve as CEO and winemaker, respectively. The new deal stipulates that Bollinger will gain 35 acres of vineyards and the entire winery and its hospitality facilities, while the Ponzi family will hold onto 100 acres, which they will use to grow and sell grapes to Ponzi Vineyards under a long-term contract.
Luisa Ponzi will continue on as director of viticulture and winemaking, and Anna Maria will remain CEO in the interim before a replacement is recruited. Once the position is filled, she will lead the sales and marketing department over the transitional period, according to the press release. Luisa and Anna Maria consider this transaction “the natural next step” for Ponzi Winery, and remarked that their parents have no qualms about consigning their legacy to Bollinger.
“We have dedicated our lives to demonstrating Oregon’s Willamette Valley as one of the greatest places on the planet for producing cool climate, high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” said Luisa. “This transaction makes sense for our respective families because of our well-aligned values and shared commitment to producing wines of the very highest quality.”
The Bollinger family CEO and holding group Chairman Etienne Bizot commented that the Bollinger family, which owns four historical wine estates in France, has been eyeing U.S. expansion for a while.
“The United States is such an important market for luxury Champagne, Burgundy, Sancerre, Cognac, and other regions in which our family owns wineries,” Bizot said. “We have so much respect for what the Ponzis have achieved, and look forward to building on it together, and connecting all our brands more closely with the U.S. market.”