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A Brief History

The village of Ponderosa dates from a 1760 land grant deeded to Spanish soldiers as an incentive to relocate into this area to protect the local Jemez Indians from marauding Navajos and Utes.

The first grape vines were planted in the Ponderosa Valley in the early 1880's by villagers who were seasonal employees of the large vineyards and wineries in the villages of Corrales and Bernallillo located in the Rio Grande valley north of present day Albuquerque. Wine and brandy production soon followed and contiued until the 1920's. Then, due to the physical isolation of this valley, (and if oral history is correct,) winemaking and brandy production assumed a more important stature during prohibition. The old style winemaking and brandy production continued until after WWII. Remnants of these old vineyards still exist in the valley today.

In 1976 Henry and Mary Street, purchased three acres in the valley as a camping retreat. They soon discovered the numerous small vineyards in the valley. The families, who owned these vineyards, still remembered their strong family traditions of grape growing and winemaking. The seed had been planted for the Streets to establish their own vineyard. Henry took a course on grape growing, then researched viticulture varieties. French Hybrids were the first experimental planting, because this valley is 5800 feet above sea level.

In 1978, on the advice of Jim Concannon, a California wine maker, they were encouraged to try Rieslings. Cuttings from Jim's vineyard in the Livermore Valley were planted in the Ponderosa Vineyard. When these proved successful, additional Riesling cuttings were obtained from the Wente Brothers, Monterey Peninsula Vineyards to expand the Street's Riesling vineyard. Henry then selected a cold-hardy clone of Pinot Noir from the University of California at Davis' mother vineyard to complete their vineyard expansion to over 6 acres.

Their first commercial crop was harvested in 1982, purchased by La Chiripada Winery who proceeded to produce award winning Riesling wines. Then in 1991, after 8 years of commercial grape production, the Streets, ready for retirement, began the construction of the Ponderosa Winery building, Henry then attended winemaking classes at UC-Davis in California, and Mary studied accounting at the University of New Mexico.

The winery was bonded by the state of New Mexico in April of 1993.


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