It’s possible that mead (honey wine) and beer are older alcoholic beverages than wine. Honey was available in forests. Ancient civilizations cultivated grain, from which beer is made, long before grapes were cultivated.
Around 1900 farmers near Ashland in Southern Oregon were selling and shipping Flame Tokay grapes to markets in California before the much larger Tokay industry developed at Lodi, California.
In the early 1970’s, Dr. Hoya Yang, a research scientist at Oregon State University, studied the possibility of converting whey, a watery bi-product of cheese making, into wine. Oregon produces large amounts of cheese and whey was readily available. Dr. Yang expected to see the wine on the market in 1977.


Dick and Nancy Ponzi traveled north to Oregon from California in 1970 and established Ponzi Vineyards Winery in Washington County near Portland.  In 1999 they also established the Dundee Bistro and Ponzi Wine Bar complex in Dundee.  This was a big step for them but they were optimistic about the future of the Oregon wine industry.

In 2004 the Ponzi’s decided to recognize individuals who contributed to the Oregon wine industry’s initial and continuing success. That was the start of the Oregon Wine Walk Hall of Fame located at the Dundee Bistro complex.  In 2004 29 individuals were recognized. To ensure this recognition would last forever the Ponzi’s asked the inductees to press their feet into concrete on the Bistro’s walkway.  This seemed like a good idea at the time but it turned out to be messy, cold and not all that attractive.  In future years new inductees took their place on the walk with inscribed brass plaques.

As of 2014, the Oregon Wine Walk of Fame now includes 47 individuals.  New inductees are added every five years and are chosen by committee of recognized members of the wine industry.

Inductees of the Oregon Wine Walk of Fame include:

2004 Honorees

David Adelsheim, co-founder of Adelsheim Vineyard, was instrumental in helping import new grape clones from France.

Bryce Bagnall of Witness Tree Vineyard taught enology classes at Chemeketa Community College and served on various Salud! committees.

Jim Bernau established Willamette Valley Vineyards, and with his lobbying skills assisted the passage of OWAB.

Susan Sokol Blosser of Sokol Blosser Winery, a leader in promoting many industry issues.

Stephen Cary, of Yamhill Valley Vineyards, in 1985 his wine scored highly in a Burgundy/Oregon blind tasting which brought great recognition to Oregon Pinots.  

Ted Casteel, partner of Bethel Heights Vineyard established in 1977, has been active in many of Oregon’s key viticultural activities.

Terry Casteel, partner of Bethel Heights Vineyard, active in many wine industry organizations since the founding of Bethel Heights.

Charles Coury while attending UC Davis wrote his graduate level thesis titled “Cold Climate Amelioration Hypothesis” proving grapes grow best at the limit of their growing season.

Robert Drouhin, of the Drouhin wine family in France, brought much credibility to the Oregon wine industry when he established the Domaine Drouhin Oregon winery.

Pat Dudley, partner of Bethel Heights Vineyard, directed IPNC from 1992-1996. During that time tickets were in such demand that a lottery system had to be established.

Dick Erath founded Erath Vineyards and Winery and for over several generations contributed greatly to the Oregon wine industry.

Bill Fuller of Tualatin Vineyards brought new recognition for Oregon wines when in 1984 he won double gold awards for his Oregon Chardonnay at a London tasting.

Leda Garsid long serving director of “Salud!” brought recognition to farm worker healthcare.

Neil Goldschmidt, as governor of Oregon greatly promoted the Oregon wine industry.

Paul Hart, co-founder of Rex Hill Winery, supported the Knights of the Vine and established a wine museum.

Scott Henry developed the Scott Henry Trellis system which can greatly assist in optimizing grape maturity.

Sue Horstmann executive director of the Yamhill County Winery Association.

David Lett co-founded Eyrie Winery and recognized as the original “Poppa Pinot”.

Diana Lett co-founded Eyrie Winery and active in promoting the Oregon wine industry.

Nick Pierano, owner of Nick’s Italian café in McMinnville, recognized as a great promoter of Oregon wines.

Dick Ponzi, co-founder of Ponzi Vineyards Winery, set standards in enological and viticulture innovation.

Nancy Ponzi, co-founder of Ponzi Vineyards Winery, taught wine classes at Portland Community College and co-founded the Consumers Food Council.

Myron Redford, of Amity Vineyards, was the first Oregon producer of Gamay Noir and Oregon sulfite-free wine.

Richard Sommer planted the first post-Prohibition vinifera vineyard located in Douglas County, near Roseburg and established Hillcrest Winery.

Steve Vuylsteke directed Oak Knoll Winery for over 21 years and brought the winery from fruit and berry production to vinifera wines.

Barney Watson of Tyee Winery, vintner and oenology instructor, and instrumental in bringing new clones to Oregon.

Marilyn Webb, partner of Bethel Heights Vineyard, a well-known and established writer on the Oregon wine industry.

Mark Wisnovsky of Valley View Vineyards in Southern Oregon promoted lesser known growing regions of Oregon as well as Oregon varietal wines other than Pinot Noir.

Ken Wright recognized as champion of single-vineyard designated wines.

2009 Honorees

Cal Knudsen founder of Knudsen Vineyards near Dundee, co-founder of Knudsen-Erath Winery, and instrumental in establishing Argyle Winery.

Peter Lombard a pioneer Oregon State University viticulture professor and grape vine researcher.

Lynn Penner Ash winemaker and co-founder of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars.

Harry Peterson-Nedry founder of Chehalem Winery and early grape grower.

Roland Soles winemaker and co-founder of Argyle Winery.  Instrumental in establishing that high quality sparkling wines could be made in Oregon.

2014 Honorees

Pat & Joe Campbell. Founders of Elk Cove Vineyards.

Tom Elliot. His company Northwest Wines Ltd brought Oregon wines to California

Eric Hamacher of Hamacher Wines.

Karen Hinsdale Oregon’s earliest wine distributor and consultant.

Allen Holstein an early Oregon vineyard manager and manager of Knudsen Vineyard near Dundee for many years.

Ed King III of Kings Estate Winery.  An early promoter of Oregon Pinot Gris.

Jim & Loie Maresh of the Maresh Red Barn tasting room and Maresh Red Hills Vineyard established in 1970.

Joel Myers an early veteran vineyard manager.

Terry Sherwood.  Longtime manager of Davison Winery Supply in McMinnville.

Maria Stuart a long-time supporter and mainstay at the International Pinot Noir Celebration and co-founder of R. Stuart & Co.

Mark Vlossak of St. Innocent Winery.


Fun Facts

In 2004 the Ponzi’s decided to recognize individuals who contributed to the Oregon wine industry’s initial and continuing success. That was the start of the Oregon Wine Walk Hall of Fame located at the Dundee Bistro complex. 


New inductees are added every five years and are chosen by committee of recognized members of the wine industry.