Steve Ponzo 


Whether it was at my house or on the family ranch, I spent most of my childhood running around a vineyard. Because of this, instead of piggy back rides, my brother and I got harvester rides. We played hide and go seek on four-wheelers. I learned to drive a tractor before I learned to drive a car. My chores consisted of putting drip emitters into the irrigation lines and pulling “suckers”. I even got to use a machete to hedge the vines.

However, I took it for granted and moved away for college. After accomplishing next to nothing, I moved back. By this time, my parents were living at the ranch house and, since the grapes were right there, I decided to try and make wine. Let’s just say I didn’t have beginners luck. I needed to learn more, much more.

I found a mentor at Davis Bynum winery who taught me the basics; how to roll a barrel, how to drive a forklift, and most important, be gentle with Pinot noir. After he left, he sent me over to Ridge Vineyards where I got to walk through some amazing old vine Zinfandel vineyards as a field scout. I soaked up as much knowledge from those vines as they were willing to ooze out.

I also got my first taste of harvest there; 12-16 hour days, 6-7 days a week. By the end of the internship, I was tired, but very much hooked. I then landed at Preston Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley where my cellar skills were fine tuned. After gaining too much weight from their fresh baked bread, I left Preston and went back to school for winemaking. This time around I was much more focused and excelled in all of my classes. Once I was done with school, it was time to get back to work and so I applied to a post for harvest at Failla.

I remember looking at the website and being totally amazed by the vineyards and the people behind the wines and I am humbled and thrilled to be working with such amazing fruit and such a talented crew. 

Steve Ponzo