For more than four decades, the Ponzi family has used the rich soil of the Willamette Valley to produce lush, sustainable wines. Winemaker Luisa Ponzi worked alongside her father for many years, gaining hands-on experience with viticulture and foots-on experience with grape stomping. She deepened this education in Beaune, France, where she studied Burgundian practices. In 1993, Luisa earned her Brevet Professionnel D’Oenologie et Viticulture certificate, a first for an American woman.
Luisa and her sister Maria carry on the dynasty started by their parents, creating wine varietals suited to the climate with sustainable practices that respect the tradition of winemaking. In addition to stocking the cellar with an award-winning collection of pinot noir, pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay, and white riesling, the Ponzis fill bottles with arneis and dolcetto, two rare Italian varietals.
An estate house is surrounded by lush gardens, whose steps lead the way to a grass terrace that overlooks working vineyards and a gorgeous valley. Now, add locally made wine, picnics composed of organic fare, and live music. The call of, ?Mon Ami!? may be heard. But no, you have not suddenly turned into a French expat hanging out in Tuscany. This is Garden Vineyards, a family-run vineyard in Hillsboro. (Mon Ami is the family dog.)
Garden Vineyards serves as an afternoon destination for picnics, wine tastings, and festivals. The vineyards' estate house is also available to rent for a weekend getaway or an overnight or extended stay. Visitors who especially love the wine can become members of the wine club,which includes six bottles in the spring and six more in the fall. Visitors can also become members of the vineyards' community-supported agriculture program and receive produce straight from the gardens.
Some of the Current Wines
With its permanent residence in a former garage?complete with a vintage sign detailing overnight auto storage rates of just 35 cents?lived-in couches, and playfully mismatched furniture, it's clear that ENSO Winery is more laid-back than traditional wine bars. In fact, this lack of pretension is a large part of the reason Willamette Weekly named ENSO its 2014 Bar of the Year. The publication also raved about the quality of ENSO's wine, as did Wine Press Northwest, which put the winery on its 2013 Oregon Winery to Watch list.
Owner and winemaker Ryan Sharp takes care to create his vintages on as small a scale as possible, using miniature fermentation bins to yield complex flavors and stainless-steel tanks no larger than a fully grown mannequin. By creating wine this way, Sharp can keep an eye on the quality, as well as experiment more easily. He also only uses grapes sourced from vineyards on the West Coast, including several in Oregon.
In addition to its own wines, ENSO boasts a rotating tap of other Portland-made wines and local beers. Since it was founded in 2010, it has won numerous awards and received many press mentions.
Much like the wines they produce, Jim and Holly Witte gave their romance ample time to develop?40 years time. Though they met in New York City when Holly was Jim's secretary, it wasn't until a mutual friend reintroduced them decades later that they fell in love. They exchanged vows in the teahouse overlooking their vineyard in the Willamette Valley, an area flush with wine grapes. They opened their tasting room at A Blooming Hill Vineyard two years later. Their vineyard sits in the hills of the Chehalem Mountains on a basalt range strewn with windblown volcanic soil, protected on three sides by still taller hills and taller yet older brothers. Jim personally walks the vineyards, tending to each vine by hand to create the best conditions for full clusters to grow.
Visitors can sample the award-winning blends in the onsite tasting room, which plays host to different events each month. To sate people's curiosity, the Wittes share their fermentation process online, and to sate people's appetites, they also share the recipe for the wine-infused cake they served at the vineyard for their wedding-anniversary party.
?rd?ri Winery & Vineyards' winemakers John Compagno and Gail Lizak personally tend to each vine on their 15-acre vineyard in Willamette Valley, Oregon, and their five-acre vineyard in California's Napa Valley. They age each harvest's fruit in French oak, creating complexly flavored whites and reds.
John and Gail share their award-winning varietals year round at their open-air tasting facility, where staffers pour samples from behind a black concrete bar and roll-up windowed doors afford stunning views of Mount Hood and the Chehalem Mountains. The boutique winery's dog- and bike-friendly grounds also include a covered flagstone patio, a fire pit, trails through the vineyards, and picnic areas.
No strangers to the art of winemaking, the Wetzel family?s roots run deep into the vineyards that surround their winery. For four generations, they have crafted award-winning wines in Germany, and for the last 35, they have called Oregon home. Chateau Bianca Winery peeks out from the Willamette Valley, where pinot noir grapes flourish across the estate vineyards. These carefully cultivated grapes eventually fill bottles with varietals such as the 2009 Chateau Bianca Estate pinot blanc, a dry, clean-finishing wine that makes a refreshing apertif.
Guests visit the tasting room to sample some of Chateau Bianca?s wines, where each day a rotating selection of six bottles are uncorked for swirling and sipping. On days when the summer sun dapples the fields and shimmers playfully off Bacchus?s lampshade hat, sippers relax on the outdoor patio to enjoy a glass or share a bottle while looking out across rows of vines.