Oregon’s Wine & Beer Pioneers: A Conversation with Dick & Nancy Ponzi – Founders of Ponzi Vineyards & BridgePort Brewing


Dick and Nancy Ponzi are two pioneers in our state’s wine and brewing industry. In 1970 they founded Ponzi Vineyards and then in 1984 founded Oregon’s oldest brewery, BridgePort Brewing. On Tuesday, September 26th, the Edgefield History Pub will host Oregon’s Wine & Beer Pioneers: A Conversation with Dick & Nancy Ponzi – Founders of Ponzi Vineyards & BridgePort Brewing.

The Troutdale Historical Society and McMenamins History present this special McMenamins History event. Doors at Blackberry Hall inside McMenamins Edgefield will open at 5:00pm. The conversation will begin at 6:30pm and is free and open to all ages. This event will also qualify as a McMenamins Passport History Pub stamp.

Read More: Looking Back At The Oregon Brewpub Bill

Panel moderated by John Foyston during the Pioneers of the Brewpub Bill on July 9, 2015. Panelist includes from far left Dick Ponzi, Art Larrance, Kurt Widmer, Brian McMenamin and Fred Bowman. (photo by D.J. Paul)

Here’s more about the Ponzi’s and their involvement in our rich history of beverage from the McMenamins website…

Celebrated Oregon wine pioneers, Dick & Nancy Ponzi established their now world-renowned Ponzi Winery back in 1970, helping in the process to prove what’s now a given: the Willamette Valley is indeed a perfect place for making Pinot Noir and other wines. They made the move north from the Bay Area, inspired by some celery wine and the desire for a better, back-to-the-land lifestyle for their growing family.

Then in 1984, the Ponzis launched BridgePort Brewing, the state’s first craft brewery. In their eyes, it was a natural extension of winemaking, and from its inception, BridgePort was hailed for its innovation and quality beers.

Join us for a lively conversation with Dick and Nancy about such early-day adventures as when they (and their young children) were the primary labor force of the winery; and the historic debut of their brewery amidst abandoned buildings and active rail yards– today’s Pearl District in Northwest Portland. For both ventures, Dick was designing and building much of the needed machinery.

Throughout their near half-century in Oregon, the Ponzis point to the genuine feeling of community among winemakers and brewers here. This cooperative spirit fostered much success and a lot of fun over the years! Other regions and states haven’t been so lucky.