The Women of the Chehalem Mountains

Collage of photos of the Women of the Chehalem Mountains


In honor of Women’s History Month, the Chehalem Mountains Winegrowers is proud to highlight female leaders and workers within the association. Historically, women have been underrepresented in winemaking; however, thanks to many courageous women worldwide, things are changing. We are proud to represent wineries and vineyards that empower women and push for change. Join us in highlighting some of the strong and influential women in our AVA.


Luisa Ponzi grew up in her family’s Willamette Valley vineyards and winery, watching her parents start a legacy. Growing up surrounded by the winemaking process, Luisa continued her education by apprenticing with Burgundian producer, M. Christophe Roumier, and Italian producer, Luca Currado. Before returning to her family winery in 1993, Ponzi was the first American woman awarded the Certificate Brevet Professionelle D’Oenologie et Viticulture, an extraordinary accomplishment. Once back in Oregon, she took on various roles in the wine industry, thanks to her skill learned through Burgundian practices and her first-hand experiences with her family. Now, as the Director of Winemaking & Viticulture for Ponzi Vineyards, she utilizes her professional skills, and the knowledge passed down through her family, to run their well-respected and innovative vineyards throughout the Chehalem Mountains. 


At Adelsheim Vineyard, Gina Hennen and Kelli Gregory’s leadership roles and decisions largely influence the company. As head Winemaker, Gina leads the cellar team, making all decisions from a production standpoint. Kelli, Adelsheim’s vineyard manager, runs their six estate vineyards and makes decisions on farming practices and sustainability. Together, Gina and Kelli’s teamwork plays a major role in the production of Adelsheim’s wines and the direction of the company. Through crafting outstanding flavors and cultivating successful farming practices, Gina and Kelli create world-class wines that are a beautiful expression of the Chealem Mountains AVA


Chehalem Winery also has a women-led winemaking team. Katie Santora originally joined Chehalem in 2012 as an assistant winemaker. Throughout her tenure with the winery, she gained expert knowledge, making her the ideal candidate for head winemaker in 2018. Today, she graciously leads an all-female cellar team, while staying in tune with the grapes throughout the season, to create the highest quality wines. Each season, Katie’s patience and deep understanding of what a successful harvest entails shines through. 


These women, along with many others in the Chehalem Mountains, continue to innovate and inspire our community through their dedication and strength. Join us in celebrating Women’s History Month and National Women in Wine Day, which expresses the gratitude we have for the women shaping our industry. Now is the perfect time to learn more about the changemakers in the Chehalem Mountains and beyond!