Baked Summer Ratatouille
One of the first local recipes we made for the Oregon Food Bank's Eat Local Challenge!
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a preview tour of the new Ponzi Vineyards tasting room in Sherwood, OR. I will be bringing my friends and family back to this one! What a beautiful space to relax and enjoy the finest of what Oregon has to offer.
The new tasting room and production facility sit on the top of a hill, at the end of a scenic drive past Smith Berry Farm and . The architecture and landscaping are clean and elegant, with clean lines and a spa-like serenity.
When we arrived, our kind host Laurel poured us a glass of Cin Cin, Ponzi’s first sparkling wine, a 2008 brut rosé that is out of this world. The more I learn about and taste of wine – especially Oregon wine – the more I love a good rose.
A dry, light brut rose like this one is absolutely blissful. It’s the perfect wine to open for your friends in the backyard, before you serve dinner.
The new tasting room has gorgeous muted tones, with plush chairs so you can relax as if it were your own living room. The staff at Ponzi will conduct the tasting there, if you like.
There are also table seating areas, including this private seating area (I’m thinking birthday party with my girlfriends?).
Oh, and did I mention the view? If you look straight down from the outdoor terrace, it’s a sea of grape vines.
and if you look up, and in any direction, it’s beautiful Oregon:
After we visited the tasting room, Laurel took us through the production facility, which was designed and built into the hillside to use gravity-flow technology to make it as eco-friendly as possible. The facilities are able to operate almost exclusively on natural light, and they do not use any heating or cooling in the 30,000 square foot facility. Solar panels on the roof help power it. Pretty cool!
The fruit is hand-picked, hand-sorted and processed within 24 hours, with an emphases on gentle handling.
This unassuming floor pipe is actually part of the gravity flow system. Wine travels from one floor to another through a hose that goes into this pipe.
And here’s the barrel room. I’m planning on adding one to my house soon (har har). I wish!
I love the wine stains on the barrels.
After our visit to the production facility, we went back to the tasting room to do a tasting, of course! The tasting room offers an antipasti plate to accompany your wines, and with smoked salmon, breadsticks, and tapenade – all delicious wares by the Dundee Bistro – but the real star of the show is the buttery homemade ricotta, straight from Nancy Ponzi’s cookbook.
We then went through the featured flight, served with local roasted hazelnuts. The hazelnuts actually offer a unique association with the wines, because before the Ponzi vineyard was a vineyard, it was used for growing hazelnuts! Turns out, they pair really well with an Oregon Pinot Noir.
Here’s what we got to taste:
Cin Cin 2008 Pinot Noir Brut Rose
I can’t say enough nice things about this beautiful wine. I hate syrupy whites and roses. This one is neither syrupy nor cloying – it’s lightly sweet and perfect for summer. This one is only available at the tasting room, and only 100 cases were produced this year. From what I hear, they’re going VERY fast…
2012 Ponzi Arneis
This white’s name means “little rascal.” It’s an unusual grape that tends to grow on its own schedule – Laurel told us that it will be ready to harvest only when it’s good and ready. My favorite part was actually the absence of acidity. The pear flavor lingered nicely.
2011 Ponzi Chardonnay Reserve
A classic Chardonnay with light honey and oak flavors.
2010 Ponzi Pinot Noir
This is the signature Pinot Noir of the estate, and one of the top sellers. Its best feature is one of my favorite thing about Pinot Noirs: the subtlety.
2010 40th Anniversary Pinot Noir Reserve
This is definitely a special occasion bottle, from a warm Oregon vintage that resulted in a very fruity flavor. It’s aged longer than the other wines we learned about – 2 1/2 years from start to finish (including barrel and bottle aging).
I had such a nice time at Ponzi and was really impressed with their sustainability practices as well. Laurel told us that they are working on expanding the menu of food available at the tasting room, and that much more is to come from the Ponzis in the next couple of years. I can’t wait to see where they take it from here.
In the meantime, pour me another glass of that brut rose.
Disclosure: Ponzi Vineyards and Little Green Pickle hosted me on this tour. Opinions are my own.