You, like me, may have long ago learned that investing in wine is both enjoyable and offers a good store of value. Debbie and I focus on France’s Burgundy and Rhone Valley regions. As far as wines from outside these two areas, we focus on the Pinot Noir’s of the Willamette Valley Oregon, so I was excited to come across an article by the excellent wine writer Jay McIhnerney, “The Pioneers Who Hit Upon the Willamette Valley’s Sweet Spot.” Jay spends much of the article profiling the Ponzi family. We much like Ponzi Pinot Noir, and I was able to order directly from the winery the 2010 Ponzi 40th Anniversary Pinot Noir Reserve. Jay also writes about other Oregon mainstays, including Adelsheim and Erath. Debbie and I just last night enjoyed an excellent recent vintage Adelsheim. Enjoy this article on what for our money is the primo red wine growing region in America.
Once they caught the wine bug, the Ponzis traveled to the wine regions of Europe—Alsace, Burgundy, the Mosel—and their research suggested that most of California was too warm for Pinot Noir. “We decided to jump in our covered wagon and head north,” Mr. Ponzi said. “We were looking for Ken Kesey. We had a piano and four barrels of homemade wine, three children and a bunch of cats and dogs.” The conveyances were actually a propane-powered truck and wood-paneled station wagon, two real 1969 hippie mobiles. But the covered wagon reference is appropriate, since they were definitely pioneers.
They didn’t know it then, but they weren’t the only ones to suspect that Oregon’s Willamette Valley might be a good place for Pinot Noir. Within a few years of planting their first vineyard, in 1970, the Ponzis found themselves part of a small wine-making community. David and Diana Lett had founded the Eyrie vineyards in 1966, and Dick Erath, another engineer-turned-viticulturalist, had planted vines in the Dundee Hills in 1969. In 1970 Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol Blosser drove their VW camper north from the Bay area to plant grapes in an abandoned plum orchard. David and Ginny Adelsheim arrived the next year. Something was in the air
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