“PONDL, from the initials of its two founders Patrick O’Neill and David Lujan Jr., is one of the newest and smallest wineries in Lodi, Calif. It is testament to what happens when an innocent hobby gets out of control.”Lujan age 42 and his life partner, O’Neill age 63, met in San Jose, Calif. over 14 years ago where they shared the dream to one day have their own winery. O’Neill’s home hobby opened up a world of taste and pairings with meals for them. “We had whites with salads and then gradually moved to reds.” Lujan says, “I gained an appreciation for it and then also put it into words, detecting scents in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blancs.” The home wine making venture started with juice specifically made for hobby wines, found in fermentation stores. The following year they gained contacts for local grapes, one was a referral to O’Neill’s former co-worker in the area, and they bartered grapes for wine. David laughs, “Here are my grapes and you give me some wine.” They then acquired grapes from Morgan Hill, Aptos, even Hayward, to achieve varietals. About three years ago, during one harvest from Aptos, Lujan shares, “We had so much wine we couldn’t drink it,” and that’s when O’Neill proposed opening up a winery and stepping up production. Lujan worked in escrow for many years prior, so they knew they were in the market for a small property in a city that had to have a downtown. They searched winery websites but most were too remote until they came across the place in Lodi. “It was the house and the layout; it was perfect!” “After speaking to the realtor that day, we found a neighbor and asked about downtown.” They loved it there and started the relocated from San Jose. Waiting for the sale of their Rose Garden home on Hester, just off of The Alameda, they spent weekends and holidays preparing their new home and the tasting room. The couple started living in their new place fulltime in 2011. After a “Sneak Peek” opening March 16—18 for friends, family and neighbors, Pondl is proud to announce that the Winery is now open to the public and currently featuring six savory flavors: The Gent, a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; The Lady, a 2010 Chardonnay; The Pin-up, a 2010 Rosé; The Beau, a 2007 Merlot; along with two signature wines, a Pinot Noir and a 2010 Dolcetto. There will be more signature and themed flavors this summer. Each label was also cleverly thought up by Lujan, “The labels are purple with a signature frame in order to create a fun vintage theme. I love that range from the 20s to the 60s, the styles and look, but I also wanted to honor Patrick’s family. I chose pictures of his mom and dad in the photo album, because his father looked debonair and mother looked classy.” Lujan and O’Neill invite everyone to stop by to explore Pondl varietals. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of PONDL Winery … ‘Where good wine goes down!’” Pondl Winery Sneak Peek Opening Video by Eydie Mendoza For more information call (209) 367-3672 or visit PONDL Winery at 665 W. Turner Road in Lodi 95242 and on Facebook.
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