A passion and commitment to produce the world’s best Pinot Noir led Grace and Ken Evenstad not to Burgundy, but to Oregon in 1989.
There, in the Dundee Hills of the northern Willamette Valley, they founded Domaine Serene. Today, they own thee vineyard estates totaling 462 acres, and have planted approximately one-third of the land to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Growing Pinot Noir is one thing. Making great Pinot Noir wine is another. How do the Evenstads do it?
As you might expect, it begins in the vineyard, where environment-friendly, sustainable practices are embraced.
“Our farming practices are designed to produce very low crop levels for concentrated flavors,” Ken explains. “Our 14-year average is just 1.7 tons per acre. All of our grapes are hand-picked and hand-sorted on a conveyor belt so that all imperfect fruit can be removed.”
Domaine Serene keeps all of its small lots separate, which provides lots of flexibility and blending options when it comes time to bottle. There is no fining or filtering, so the true flavors of the grapes shine through in the finished wines. Aging in small French oak barrels for 14 to 18 months lends further complexity.
“There is minimal intervention and only gentle gravity-flow movement of wine from beginning to end,” Evenstad adds.
All of that care in the vineyard and the cellar has resulted in a great deal of critical acclaim. In the 17th annual Wine & Spirits magazine restaurant poll, Domaine Serene was named the maker of the most popular Oregon Pinot Noir in the country. Critic Robert Parker proclaimed Domaine Serene to be one of only two “outstanding” makers of Pinot Noir in Oregon. Writer Anthony Dias Blue declared Domaine Serene as “the Chateau Lafite of Oregon.”
The estate’s flagship wine is known as “Evenstad Reserve,” and the 2004 bottling is the 15th vintage. Domaine Serene also makes single-vineyard renditions of Pinot Noir, as well as Yamhill County cuvee. And its Chardonnay is among the finest made in Oregon.
* * * * *
Domaine Serene is open five days per week, and charges $15 for a tasting of current releases. A special V.I.P. tour, which includes a tasting of five special wines accompanied by a selection of cheeses, is available for $40, and requires a reservation. For further information, call 503-864-4600.