WineInk: Oregon winery Ponzi launches ‘Together’ to make a statement
UNDER THE INFLUENCE
“Together” 2017 Ponzi Pinot Noir ($27 per half bottle or $80 for 3)
The wines that go into the half bottles (375ml) of the Together collection are harvested and made from the same certified sustainable vineyards that Ponzi uses in their other pinot production. Ponzi pinot noir wines, especially those sourced from their vineyards in the newly named Laurelwood District AVA are known for their notes of blue and black fruit, spice, and rustic tannins. While you can support the cause by ordering these “Together” wines, you also will be getting great wines from one of Oregon’s most prestigious producers.
For over two months, protesters have gathered in the streets in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, to mark the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The protesters have included a “Wall of Mothers” who have dramatically linked arms in a powerful display of women’s solidarity in the fight against injustice.
Less than 20 miles, but literally a world away, in the Chehalem Hills, Anna Maria and Luisa Ponzi, the two sisters who today own Ponzi Vineyards, felt compelled to also make a statement and contribute to the conversation that is taking place, not just in Portland but across America.
“We believe in the power of women, so we turned to what we know, winemaking, and tried to make our own small contribution to the discussion,” Anna Maria said. “We had to do something.”
After a late-night phone call between them on the first of June, the pair created an exclusive, limited-release wine to celebrate and support women of all races and backgrounds in an effort to inspire unity and affect positive change. At the end of July, just eight weeks after the original conversation, the winery released “Together,” wines with a series of labels depicting women of all races and colors interacting.
Artist Sheree Brand, of Washington, D.C., was commissioned to produce the dynamic triptych fronting the 375ml bottles of pinot noir that can be purchased exclusively from the Ponzi website (ponzivineyards.com/Shop/Together). All of the profits from sales will be donated to nonprofit organizations dedicated to the advocacy of anti-discriminatory legislation and to the protection of all human rights, in particular to those of minority women.
“Our own story of working in a male-dominated industry has made us aware of issues and challenges, and we also have both been informed and inspired to be a part of the change by our kids,” Anna Maria explained about the genesis of the unique and timely project. “The younger generation has been enormous advocates for the movement and they have helped enlighten us about systemic problems.”
The beneficiary of the proceeds will change monthly but the first recipient is Sisterlove.org, an Atlanta-based organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive justice in public health and prevention policies and programs for women of color. “It is our hope that this will be an ongoing project that will benefit many organizations going forward,” Anna Maria explained.
2020 has been a trying year for the wine industry, but it has been especially poignant for Ponzi Vineyards. The pioneering Oregon winery began the year looking forward to the celebration of their 50th anniversary as an iconic Willamette Valley pinot producer. It was to be a year spent welcoming friends to the gravity-fed winery and tasting room, which has become a must-stop for the region’s wine visitors. Of course, the coronavirus changed that substantially.
In May, Anna Maria published her book “Pinot Girl,” in which she relays, from a personal perspective, the story of the growth of Oregon’s wine community, which was little more than a notion a half-century ago when her parents Dick and Nancy Ponzi planted the vines that helped launch an industry. Today, Oregon is home to more than 700 wineries with an estimated economic impact of more than $4 billion to the state. The plan was for a tour and book launch, but it obviously was put on hiatus.
And in June, the Laurelwood District, where Ponzi is located, received official designation as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) recognizing the unique soils and topography that make Ponzi’s vineyards special.
“This was the culmination of almost 10 years’ work and we are thrilled to have the factors that influence the flavors of our wines be recognized,” an obviously proud Anna Maria enthused.
Still, the times have proved difficult.
“It has been an incredibly challenging year because of COVID,” Anna Maria said. “When everything shut down in March, we lost extensive revenues with the closure of restaurants and our tasting room. And now, going into harvest, we will not be able to have the interns from Europe and Australia and other wine regions that we work with normally.”
But for Anna Maria and Luisa and the team at Ponzi Vineyards, there is still reason for optimism and the launch of “Together” provides an example of how difficult times can provide new perspectives.
“We need to be part of the change,” Anna Maria concluded with determination.
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