The champagne house Bollinger has purchased Ponzi Vineyards in Oregon. This is the Maison's first step outside France and onto American soil. Other champagne houses have already been active in the USA for years, such as Taittinger with Domaine Carneros in Carneros or Moët & Chandon with Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley. The amount of the sale is not known.
Ponzi Vineyards is located in the northern part of the Willamette Valley and comprises about 175 hectares. The family-owned wine estate was founded in 1970 by Dick and Nancy Ponzi and, until now, it has been run by daughters Anna Maria and Luisa. Ponzi Vineyards is considered an Oregon pioneer and is especially known for its Pinot Noir. The annual production is 30-40,000 cases.
With the purchase, Bollinger takes over the brand rights of Ponzi Vineyards, the winery, and the tasting rooms, as well as three vineyards in the still-young AVA Laurelwood District - Avellana, Abetina and Madrona Vineyards - which together comprise 35 hectares. The remaining acreage will stay in the Ponzi family, but grapes from these vineyards will be supplied to Bollinger. According to media reports, Bollinger is not planning to produce sparkling wine, but will concentrate on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
"The United States is such an important market for luxury Champagne, Burgundy, Sancerre, Cognac and other regions where our family has vineyards. If there is anywhere outside of France where we feel it is important to invest, it is in the United States. We quietly considered options for several years, but with the Ponzi family, we finally feel we have found the ideal place," Etienne Bizot, chairman and CEO of Société Jacques Bollinger, the Bollinger family's holding company, said in a press release.
On an interim basis, Anna Maria will continue to be responsible for marketing and sales until a new CEO is found. Luisa will keep her position as director of viticulture and winemaking. aw