Here at Ponte, we had the pleasure of seeing many of you and are proud that we were able to provide good wine, food and friendship to all! As always, I am surprised at how quickly another year has passed, and wanted to take a few moments to highlight some of the changes we made.
The opening of the Vineyard Pavilion on May 1st was the highlight of our year. We broke ground January 6th and celebrated our first wedding less than four months later, which must be some kind of construction speed record in Riverside County. Thank you for your patience while construction was going on and for putting up with the noise of hammers and saws.
As spring turned into summer, we went into full swing! In June, we celebrated our 7th Anniversary and it was wonderful that so many of you came out to celebrate with us at our “Anniversary and Library” Shopping Night. In July, we hired a new Executive Chef, Greg Stillman, who is slowly making changes to the menu, keeping our popular classics and adding some new favorites. In August, Ponte associates and Wine Club Members ran in the American’s Finest City Half-Marathon and 5K, helping to raise over $20,000 for one of our local charities, Oak Grove. In September, we celebrated the fall harvest with our 8th annual Grape Stomp Festival that was a sell out, as usual, with more than 300 in attendance. Our Winemaker Mark tells us that these wines are coming along nicely and will be some of Ponte’s best wines ever. And in November, Wine Club Members had the opportunity to meet our winemaker Mark Schabel at our annual Winemaker’s Dinner.
We sent out several questionnaires to our members asking for their opinions. Your responses have, in many cases, changed how we do what we do. We have received countless new ideas from you and we hope you’ve noticed the many changes we made at the winery this year.
We extended the dining patio, which has shortened the wait for our restaurant from one hour to half an hour or less on the weekends. We still get a few questions about why you are not seated immediately even though there are open tables. Please keep in mind that in addition to the tables, we also need the wait staff and kitchen to be able to do their part to offer you the best experience possible, and our Manager will sometimes close some seating areas while the kitchen catches up or an additional server or two are called in. We appreciate your patience, and as always, are working hard to ensure that you enjoy your visit at Ponte.
Another obvious addition was the construction of a model hotel room next to the Reserve Room (it’s partially completed awaiting some decorating decisions and delivery of fixtures and equipment). For the last two years, we have been processing the needed permits to build a small hotel next door. With 60 rooms, it should be a welcomed amenity at Ponte, making it possible to stretch your day in the country to a relaxing weekend. We are patiently waiting for our permits and hope to break ground soon. Meanwhile, we’ll complete the room so you can get an idea of what the real thing will look like on completion.
This Christmas season, we hope you’ll take time out of your busy scheduled to visit the winery. And if not, here’s to a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season and to seeing you at the winery in 2011.