In a rousing celebration held at Portland’s Sentinel Hotel on Thursday, March 8, Linfield College officials and Domaine Serene winery staff announced Grace and Ken Evenstad’s gift of $6 million to Linfield College’s wine education program, the largest gift in Oregon history in support of wine education. The group celebrated the gift with an early glass of Domaine Serene’s R 10 rosé in the Domaine Serene tasting room within the Sentinel Hotel, set to open to the public in April.
Founders of Domaine Serene Winery, the Evenstads share a goal with Linfield of helping support Oregon’s wine industry as it further develops into one of the world’s premier grape-growing and wine-producing destinations. This gift is also one of the largest donations in Linfield’s history and will allow the college to expand its wine education program, the first interdisciplinary liberal arts bachelor’s degree in wine studies in the United States.
The gift will fund the design and construction of the Evenstad Wine Laboratory as part of a new science building under development on the college’s McMinnville campus, as well as endow the Grace and Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield and an additional faculty position, the Evenstad Chair in Wine Studies.
The Grace and Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education breaks from traditional viticulture and enology programs that focus primarily or exclusively on the craft of growing grapes and making wine. At Linfield, a Wine Studies degree incorporates the historical, geographical and environmental aspects of growing grapes and the making, bottling and selling of wine, as well as coursework on sensory-evaluation techniques and industry-specific communication issues.
“Ken and I were drawn to the fact that this new and unique program will focus on all aspects of running a successful and sustainable wine business,” said Grace Evenstad. “In our opinion, the real benefit is that it focuses on building a high level of quality throughout the entire business of wine—in winemaking, management, accounting, sales, marketing, etc. This gift will enable thousands of future students to follow their passions in the wine business. It will prepare them for success and will enable the American wine industry to benefit for generations to come.”
Linfield currently offers a wine studies minor that can be paired with other academic programs, and is in the process of developing a standalone major. The Center for Wine Education at Linfield also offers wine management and wine marketing certificates online, holds a wine lecture series, provides a summer Wine Industry Immersion Program and hosts one of the world’s premier wine events—the International Pinot Noir Celebration—each summer. The Oregon Wine History Archive is housed at Linfield.
“This tremendous gift is not only a boon to Linfield College, it’s a major investment in the future of wine education in our state,” said Linfield College President Thomas L. Hellie. “We are deeply grateful to Grace and Ken for this important gift—and we’re proud of their faith in Linfield’s wine education program.”
In June 2017, internationally known wine climatologist Gregory V. Jones succeeded Ellen Brittan, the founding director of the Center for Wine Education and an OWB board member emeritus for six years. Jones will become the first to hold the Evenstad Chair in Wine Studies title.
“It is such an honor for Linfield College and myself to be recognized and supported by the Evenstads. Through their generosity and vision, Linfield College will be able to provide a unique, liberal arts education in wine studies that will help develop future leaders of the Oregon wine industry,” said Jones. “In addition, the Grace and Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education will deliver numerous activities that will engage and educate the wine industry and community, enriching the Oregon wine experience for everyone.”
The partnership between Domaine Serene and Linfield is well underway, with on-site educational programs hosted by the winery and a January study-abroad trip for Linfield students that included a visit to the Evenstad’s French winery, Château de la Crée in Burgundy.