The Ponzi Family has been producing world class wines in the northern Willamette Valley since 1970. For over 40 years they have been leading participants in the development of the Oregon wine region, which currently boasts over 400 wineries. As the region grows, wine touring has become increasingly popular and important to the development of the Willamette Valley’s wine country. Tourism overall is now one of Oregon’s leading industries.
In 1999, the Ponzi Family recognized the rapidly increasing enthusiasm for wine touring was not supported by sufficient fine dining facilities located in wine country. They took a risk, one some observers described as overly ambitious and naively premature. They conceived, constructed and continue to operate the culinary center in the tiny, but perfectly situated, town of Dundee. The center presents The Dundee Bistro and the Ponzi Wine Bar, showcasing the region’s finest wines. Reception to the facility has been overwhelming, garnering local popularity along with excellent reviews and recommendations in national media.
The Ponzis patterned The Dundee Bistro on the many examples of culinary hospitality they have observed in the world’s finest wine regions. They envisioned a restaurant capable of preparing and presenting dishes reflecting the highest culinary sophistication accompanied by wines and wine service of comparable excellence. At the same time, they wanted to create a casual, friendly atmosphere welcoming tourists, families, local residents and winemakers still in their overalls and field boots. The menu reflects the goal of extending a comfortable welcome to a divergent clientele. On a given day it’s possible to order handmade pizza, fish and chips, salad of mixed organic greens with seared foie gras, Kumamoto oysters fresh from the Pacific 60 miles away, roasted butternut squash soup with chanterelles, loin of venison or local, natural pork smoked all day over local walnut to tender perfection. A meal can end with simple house blackberry sorbet or flaming Oregon cherries jubilee, either one accompanied with piping hot Italian espresso.
The wine program for The Dundee Bistro, under the guidance of the Ponzi Family, offers emphasis on local Pinot Noirs, rare vintages and bottlings, as well as an award-winning international selection of the world’s finest producers. There are 16 wines offered by the glass, each presented and poured at the table. All wines are served in varietally correct Reidel crystal. The wine program has been recognized by Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast for excellence. While wine is the beverage focus at The Dundee Bistro, a complete bar serves classic cocktails, Northwest microbrews on draught and Italian coffees.
The exterior, interior building and landscape design of The Dundee Bistro and Ponzi Wine Bar were approached with care and family talent. Brett Fogelstrom, the architect husband of Maria Ponzi Fogelstrom, designed the facility and, along with Dick Ponzi, supervised the construction. The imaginative and beautiful buildings, described as Italianate Victorian, are widely admired by architecture professionals and the public. The kitchen interior décor was designed by the Ponzi Family with some deference accorded to Fogelstrom. Nancy Ponzi accomplished the landscaping with concentrated use of perennials. All of the artwork is by Oregon artists. Christa Grimm executed the commissioned murals that adorn the restaurant walls.