My Latest in Wine Business Monthly:
Ponzi Vineyards’ Next Chapter
by L.M. Archer
Sherwood, Ore. – Where does a French luxury winemaker invest in the future? For Champagne Bollinger, the answer is Oregon. Founded in 1829, the bespoke brand owns some of the best terroirs in Champagne, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and Cognac. In 2021, they acquired Ponzi Vineyards in the Willamette Valley, their first venture outside of France.
Bollinger’s commitment to craftsmanship, such as hand-riddling and reserve wines stored in natural-corked magnums, earns it the prestigious Patrimoine Vivant (living heritage) seal of quality in France.
But its ability to adapt with the times, such as product placement in popular James Bond movies, earns it a strong consumer following worldwide, especially in America. As markets adjust, so do strategies. “We realized that we need to change the way we were working in the U.S.,” says Etienne Bizot, Chairman/CEO at Societe Jacques Bollinger (SJB). “And we realized that one of the best ways is to invest in the U.S.”
For Bizot, establishing a footprint in America allows the company greater access and insights into American consumers, and also signals its respect for American wines and terroir. Bollinger honed in on Ponzi for a simple reason. “Pinot Noir was our favorite grape, because we are in Burgundy, we are in Champagne,” says Bizot, “And to be frank, the Ponzi Vineyards project was the one which [best fit] our criteria, because of Pinot Noir.”
But not just Pinot Noir. “What is different with Ponzi,” explains Bizot, “It’s a story of this couple, Dick and Nancy Ponzi.” Bizot marvels at the pioneering power pair who planted Pinot Noir over fifty years ago in the Willamette Valley – three young children in tow – sans vine growing, winemaking, or marketing skills. “It was quite entrepreneurial,” says Bizot. “And I do love entrepreneurship.” READ MORE HERE.