If you drink Oregon wine you really ought to support Salud!

SUBMITTED PHOTOS: PONZI VINEYARDS, MICHELLE SKIDMORE - Leda Garside, registered nurse, shares with journalists how the mobile clinic provides services in vineyards to workers and their families.

Get this date on your calendar, friends — you don’t want to miss the summer’s biggest party with a purpose. It’s the Big Dinner — the Summertime ¡Salud! an event that is sure to benefit your and many others’ health.

The word “salud” means “to your health” in Spanish, and ¡Salud! will take place July 28 at Stoller Family Estate. The event is a benefit for ¡Salud!, which provides healthcare services for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.

I was invited by winery owners/winemakers Maria Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyard, Rollin and Corby Soles of ROCO Winery, Donna Morris of Winderlea Vineyard and Winery and James Frey of Trisaetum Winery, Vineyard and Gallery, to join other media representatives at Ponzi Vineyards to learn more about the ¡Salud! program.

Nancy Ponzi, who founded Ponzi Vineyard with her husband Dick in 1970, came up with the idea 25 years ago. She recognized that vineyard workers needed access to quality healthcare and working with other winery owners and physicians from Tuality Healthcare, the ¡Salud! program was born.

It is a unique partnership between winery owners and Tuality Healthcare — it is likely the only such partnership in the nation. Under the leadership of Leda Garside, registered nurse, the program has grown each year and now involves four RNs seeing patients at five clinics and in the mobile clinic, which they drive out into the vineyards to see patients.

From a few drops of blood from a finger prick, the nurses can provide basic healthcare screenings for cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Accurate results are available in as few as three minutes and can detect diseases like diabetes, for which symptoms may go unnoticed. Referrals can be given on the spot, and even more valuable to the employee, the nurses can help shepherd them through the healthcare system to get the attention they need.

“We can check them out from head to toe,” Garside said. “They get competitive and like to compare their numbers with each other. We saw 4,000 people last year and 30 percent of them were children and the other 12 percent were spouses of the workers.”

From left, Rollin and Corby Soles, winemaker and owners of ROCO Winery, and James Frey, winemaker and owner of Trisaetum Winery, listen as Maria Ponzi and Leda Garside talk about Salud!

Garside and the other nurses are bilingual and take time to build relationships with their clients. Understanding the home remedies they may be utilizing is important, as well as understanding the culture, and it improves the quality of the care they give.

“If there are stresses at home that we know about, we can help them manage those better,” Garside said.

A former occupational therapist, Garside said every task the workers do in the vineyard is evaluated ergonomically. Lifting heavy loads or hand-pruning vines for hours on end will eventually take a toll. She said the program takes a holistic approach to providing what each individual needs.

Like many vineyard and winery owners, Maria Ponzi regards her vineyard workers as family; they have been loyal employees for decades. Skilled vineyard workers are as much a factor in producing exceptional wines as any other factor of terroir, which is how a region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of wine.

“We aren’t using tractors or chemicals to produce our wines,” she said. “It is all done by hand, by skilled people.”

The healthcare is provided free of charge to the workers and their families.

“We are able to deliver $3 of service for every $1 spent because of collaborative relationships with partnering healthcare organizations,” Garside said.

The program is funded entirely with donated funds, which is where you and I come in — and the Summer ¡Salud! party on July 28.

Hosted by Stoller Family Estate, the evening begins with a welcoming wine-tasting reception featuring 13 acclaimed wineries from Oregon, France and Australia. You will mingle with the winemakers and sample gourmet appetizers prepared by James Beard Award-winning Chef Greg Higgins, of Portland’s Higgins Restaurant and Bar, followed by an upscale family style alfresco dinner he will prepare, paired with some of the world’s best wines poured from impressive magnum bottles straight into your glass.

Stop by the pop-up wine shop to add some large-format bottles or library wines to your collection and take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a case or two of this year’s spectacular 2015 ¡Salud! Cuvees before anyone else.

Tickets are $175 per person, $75 is tax-deductible. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit or contact the Tuality Healthcare Foundation at 503-681-1850. Stoller Family Estate is located at 16161 N.E. McDougall Road, Dayton.

Get tickets now, and then mark your calendar for the Oregon Pinot Noir Auction Nov. 11 and 12. Learn more about those events at

If you drink Oregon wines, please support ¡Salud!

Thinking you’d like something to pair with a lovely pinot noir, I decided to share this tantalizing recipe for Reblochon Tarts with Bacon and Fingerling Potatoes. Food & Wine suggests the earthy, berry-rich flavors of pinot noir work well washed-rind cheeses like Reblochon. Enjoy them on your next picnic!

¡Salud! To your health!

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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