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Ponzi Vineyards releases sparkling Gewürztraminer grape juice
SHERWOOD, Ore. – One of Oregon’s oldest and most innovative wineries has released sparkling Gewürztraminer grape juice – possibly a first in the Pacific Northwest.
Ponzi Vineyards calls its new product Cugini – Italian for “cousins” – and released it last week. It has produced 100 cases in the inaugural vintage. The non-alcoholic product was created by Luisa and Maria Ponzi, the second-generation owners of Ponzi Vineyards. It retails for $15 per bottle.
Cugini is believed to be the only commercial wine grape juice made in the Pacific Northwest, an opportunity that could be a delicious niche for the Ponzis.
Navarro Vineyards in California’s Anderson Valley has long produced non-alcoholic grape juices made from Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir. Both are vintage-dated and bottled in 750 milliliter bottles and retail for $12. The owners of Navarro make them available for children who accompany their parents to the tasting room northwest of Sonoma County, as well as for designated drivers and teetotalers.
Navarro also makes vintage-dated verjus, a non-alcoholic grape juice made from high-acid, under-ripe grapes that are harvested when they are still green. Verjus is cherished by professional and amateur chefs, who use it in place of wine, lemon juice or vinegar in recipes. In the Northwest, such wineries as Abacela in Roseburg, Ore., and Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser and Woodinville, Wash., have made verjus. Klipsun Vineyards on Washington’s Red Mountain also has produced verjus.
Navarro sells its verjus for $12 per 750 milliliter bottle.
Ponzi Vineyards’ latest innovation
Ponzi’s sparkling Gewürztraminer is for sale at any of its three tasting rooms in Sherwood, Dundee and Beaverton, all less than an hour from Portland.
Founded four decades ago by Dick and Nancy Ponzi, Ponzi Vineyards has long been on the cutting edge of wine and food.
The Ponzis arrived in the Willamette Valley in 1970 to plant grapes and ultimately launch their namesake winery. In 1984, they created BridgePort Brewing, which was Oregon’s first craft brewery and brewpub. They sold the operation 11 years later. Today, Oregon is famous worldwide for its craft beer scene.
In 1987, Nancy Ponzi helped launch the International Pinot Noir Celebration, a three-day love fest that draws Pinot Noir producers and aficionados from around the globe. In 1992, she helped found ¡Salud! Pinot Noir Barrel Auction to help raise money to benefit seasonal farm workers. In 2000, she helped launch Oregon Pinot Camp, a three-day annual trade event.
In 1998, the Ponzi Wine Bar opened on Highway 99W in the Yamhill County town of Dundee, where it features Ponzi wines as well as those of many other top Oregon producers. A year later, the family opened the Dundee Bistro next door, which has quickly become one of the top restaurants in the heart of Oregon wine country – and one of the state’s best wine lists.
In 2004, Ponzi became one of the first premium Oregon Pinot Noir producers to begin using screwcaps.
Last year, the Ponzis opened a new, state-of-the-art tasting room in the northern Willamette Valley town of Sherwood.
Ponzi is now run by the second generation, with Luisa Ponzi making the wine and Maria Ponzi as director of sales and marketing.