Wine Women Wednesday with Maria Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards

It’s Wednesday and that can only mean one thing. It’s time for another installment of the Wine Women Wednesday series! Since I launched Along Comes Mary, a goal has always been to introduce you to fun events and day trips in Los Angeles as well as my main loves-food, wine and travel. As I’ve been traveling more and discovering some of the best food and wine out there, something has struck me in the wine industry. There are so many wonderful women in the field. Whether they be sommeliers, tasting room managers, winemakers, it’s been extremely inspiring to meet each and everyone of them. Thus, Wine Women Wednesday was born.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Maria Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards in Willamette Valley, Oregon.  Maria’s parents moved to Willamette Valley in 1969 and planted their first vineyard in 1970.  A bold move for the time, Oregon was not yet recognized as the thriving wine region we know today. A young Maria never envisioned that she would follow in her family’s footsteps. Instead, Maria carved her own path and went to school to study Broadcast Journalism. Today, her education serves her well as Ponzi Vineyard’s President and Director of Sales and Marketing.

Read on to learn more about Maria!

Wine Women Wednesday with Maria Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards

Mary: Your family founded Ponzi Vineyards in 1970. What is one of your earliest memories growing up on a vineyard?

Maria: Work. Just a lot of physical labor. I was driving a tractor at five. When I wasn’t driving the tractor I was helping to plant, prune, train, pull suckers or harvest the grapes. The work continued in the cellar helping my father make wine and that’s when it really got (not) fun. Being cold, wet and/or sticky. The only good stuff happened after the wine was bottled; designing pretty labels and promoting the sales with my mother.

Mary:  Did you know from an early age that wine making is what you wanted to do “when you grow up”?

Maria: No, I’ve never been interested in wine making. In fact I ran away as quickly as possible to the East Coast. I wanted to be a broadcast journalist and travel the world doing investigative work. Instead, I ended up in sales for a publishing house in Boston. I returned to the winery when I learned marketing and sales had become an important part of the operation.

Photo by CWK Photography
Photo by CWK Photography
Working at the Vineyards and Enjoying A “Real Drink”

Mary: What’s a typical day of work at the vineyards like for you?

Maria: These days, I work in the office, not the vineyard or the winery as I leave that to the pros. Instead I get to collaborate with talented and hard-working people who help to promote our product. I love the variety of work and the business dynamic. Mainly, I love that we have the privilege of producing a product that comes from the Earth, bringing people together. Gathering with family and friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures and I’m so fortunate our wine is often a central part of this tradition.

My typical day is hectic and varies. It could be filled with discussing nationals sales strategies with my NSM, to creating a new email marketing campaign with my team, to touring and tasting wines with someone from the trade, to ensuring the flowers are fresh in the tasting room and the food is paired appropriately for our guests in our new hospitality space. It never ends, there’s something new every day. Then I go home and need a drink. A real drink.

Gathering with family and friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures and I’m so fortunate our wine is often a central part of this tradition.

Being in a Man’s World and Enjoying the Perfect Day

Mary: What advice would you give to women with a drive for wine making and the industry?

Maria: Gain as much experience and knowledge as possible, and carry a big stick. It’s still a man’s world in many ways, but women are finding their way. Like most good things – it takes tenacity, persistence, brains and a whole lot of charm – double that if you’re a woman, but it’s worth it.

Mary: And, lastly-describe your perfect day that involves wine. Where you’d be, what bottle you’d enjoy and what would you pair with it?

Maria: I’d be with my beautiful family sailing in the Bahamas sipping our 2016 Avellana Chardonnay with fresh grilled fish, nothing more. Total bliss.

Visit Ponzi Vineyards

Ponzi Vineyards lays in the heart of the Willamette Valley in Sherwood, Oregon. They offer stunning views and several amenities including fireside seating and table side wine service. Open daily 11am to 5:30 (holidays may affect these hours), enjoy some exquisite varietals like their Pinot Noir Rose and the 2015 Avellana Chardonnay (95 TPM). Fun fact: Maria’s sister, Luisa, was one of the first to recognize the potential for Chardonnay in Oregon. It certainly shows in this floral varietal.

Learn more about Ponzi Vineyards HERE.

(*Disclosure: I was a guest of the media at Ponzi Vineyards. Special thanks to Maria for being a “Wine Woman” on this Wednesday and please e-mail me at alongcomesmary26@gmail.com if you or someone you know would like to be a candidate for this blog series.)

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