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Claudio Ponte

Claudio's only real qualification as a wine "expert" is that he knows what he likes. Claudio started drinking water-diluted red wine as a child, enjoyed an occasional glass at important celebrations while growing up (where wine was always on the table), graduated to Mateus rose as a freshman in college, moved to woody California Chardonnays, then to big reds... and ultimately ended up managing a winery, the ultimate wine lover's job.

He has been exposed to every type of snobbery and fraudulent misrepresentation related to wine. He has wrinkled his nose at some of the best Bordeaux has to offer, has marveled at the smells of 100 year old Madeira, has taken 5 aspirins (it did not help) after participating in a monster vertical tasting with friendly grape growers, and has now settled in his middle years to enjoy what most would call "drinkable" wines.

Other than having a fairly adventurous bent when it comes to wine varieties, his taste is fairly unsophisticated, and he's quick to admit he could never make a living with his palate. Claudio dislikes overpaying for wine, especially at restaurants, and his legendary stinginess gets him the wine list every time, no matter who's treating. Looking for value he'll always pick the odd red, or the weird white or (blushing...) a dry rose. Other than Ponte wines, he drinks Malbecs, Tempranillos and Torrontes and is patiently waiting for the Ponte Arneis vines to "grow up" to add to his list.

He's slowly "working" though other wine regions worldwide looking for new wines to like and for new food experiences. He believes that wine and food are best enjoyed where they are produced.

Erica Martinez

Erica Martinez is a Southern California native who now resides near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She formally worked for Ponte for 4 years before moving on the east coast where she was the online copywriter for GNC for 3 years. Now a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to her new son, Henry, Erica still feels at home writing for Ponte. She is a lover of wine, food and shopping (in farmer's markets) and enjoys sharing her cooking experiences in her new city, which even after almost 5 years, sometimes still feels unfamiliar (she is still adjusting to the fact that farmer's markets close in winter). Erica truly believes that food and wine go beyond creating a meal, and can, rather, create an entire experience. She is thrilled to share these experiences on the Ponte Blog.

Nick Webster

Nick came to Ponte as a recent graduate of UC Santa Barbara. He was very excited to graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies but he (and his parents) were unsure of how he would put it to use. In the summer of 2010, Nick was hired at Ponte as a Harvest Assistant and went through the ultimate winemaking boot camp; harvest. After spending three months sorting grapes, mixing tanks, moving barrels, and doing the dirty work of winemaking, Nick proved his character and was promoted to Ponte's Winemaking Assistant and Sustainability Coordinator. Since then he has put his education to use by heading our sustainability efforts and authoring our Sustainability Blog. While visiting the winery you might see Nick taking samples in the vineyard, tasting new blends with the winemaker or busily working on our myriad of suitability projects. Don't be afraid to say hello, but please excuse the red wines stains; they come with the job!

Amanda Moreland

Amanda Moreland is Ponte's social media extraordinaire, hailing from Sacramento, California. She is our resident Facebook and Twitter guru who also shares her passion for food, wine, writing and travel in the Ponte blog. From the latest food truck to the hippest bay area restaurant and wine-of-the-moment, Amanda is always up on current trends in the wine and food industry. A PR whiz, Amanda has a background doing public relations and marketing for Visit California, an organization dedicated to marketing the state of California as a world-class tourism destination. Amanda's hobbies and career history make her well versed in keeping Ponte guests up to date on, not only what's happening here, but in the wine industry in general.

Lauren Minogue

Lauren Minogue is a natural when it comes to connecting with our Wine Club Members. Not only does she work in the Wine Club and Online Store, she also shares recipes and sometimes humorous real-life tales in the Ponte Blog. An Orange County ex-pat, Lauren moved to Temecula with her husband after graduating college, where Lauren's passion for wine and people came together when she began working for Ponte. At home, both her and her husband maintain a seasonal garden which acts as an inspiration to the recipes she shares. Her approach to cooking can be summed up in four adjectives: quick, easy, healthy and delicious. Her kitchen adventures are funny and scrumptious additions to the Ponte Blog.

Mark Schabel, Winemaker

When it comes to all things wine, Mark is the man we turn to. Ponte's winemaker takes the snobbery out of wine and breaks down everything from cork to tannins into fun topics everyone can enjoy and understand. He has honed his winemaking skills all over the world, but when all is said and done, at the end of the day, Mark likes to relax with a good meal, good wine, and maybe a little yoga. A self-described "want-to-be-foodie" and "lazy cook," Mark is like so many of us who love good food, but don't take it too seriously. He can suggest wine pairings for pan-seared pomegranate duck one minute and for grilled cheese sandwiches the next, and they will both be fantastic.

Elyse Barton

When it comes to cooking, Elyse has her own rules. One: recipes are meant to be tweaked. And two: healthy is important. Always loving a challenge, Elyse believes that being a good cook is about experimenting with classics to create one's own recipes. As a health conscious individual, she finds it tricky to pair wines with healthy meals, but always finds a way to do it, and is always eager to share with all of our Blog readers. In addition to Elyse's recipes, you might also find her blogging about her passion for running and training for Ponte's annual Half Marathon. Outside of Ponte, Elyse adores theater and has interned with the Laguna Beach Playhouse, ArtsPR and Broadway San Diego.

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About this Page: Nestled away in the heart of Temecula Wine Country, you will find the Ponte Family Estate Winery, Southern California’s premier winery destination. Through an exclusive winery market atmosphere, Ponte Winery offers its visitors wine tasting, fine wine country cuisine dining at the Restaurant at Ponte, weddings set with a serene view of the Temecula, California Wine Country mountains, as well as an all inclusive Ponte Wine Club.