Grace and Ken Evenstad Pledge to Revolutionize Wine Education with $6 Million Gift to Linfield College

—Domaine Serene founders Grace and Ken Evenstad make the largest gift in support of wine studies in state history—

Wine Studies class tours Domaine Serene winery.

Domaine Serene Winery founders Grace and Ken Evenstad have pledged $6 million to Linfield College, the largest gift in Oregon history in support of wine education. The gift is also one of the largest donations in Linfield’s history and will allow the college to significantly expand its wine education program, which already offers the first interdisciplinary liberal arts bachelor’s degree in wine studies in the United States.

The gift will endow the Grace and Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield, as well as an endowed faculty position, the Evenstad Chair in Wine Studies. It will also 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.

Traditional viticulture and enology programs focus primarily or exclusively on the craft of growing grapes and making wine. In contrast, the Grace and Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education will include a Wine Studies degree that 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 winein 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, even centuries, 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. 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 Evenstads and Linfield share a goal of helping support Oregon’s wine industry as it develops into one of the world’s premier grape-growing and wine-producing destinations.

“From the first day that we set foot in the Dundee Hills, we have been on a never-ending quest to grow and produce the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world,” said Ken Evenstad. “By making this donation to Linfield College, we are investing in the future thought-leaders of the global wine industry. With this partnership, it is our hope that the newly endowed wine studies program acts as a magnet to attract the brightest minds from around the world to further propel our industry to even greater heights on the world’s stage.”

Charitable giving is an essential part of the fabric that makes up the culture at Domaine Serene and the legacy of Grace and Ken Evenstad.  With the Linfield gift, the Evenstads have now donated or raised more than $20 million for philanthropic causes nationwide.

Grace and Ken Evenstad founded Domaine Serene in the Dundee Hills of Oregon in 1989.  For the past 29 years, Domaine Serene, under the guidance of the Evenstads, has been focused on excellence in a never-ending quest to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Domaine Serene’s wines represent the achievement that is possible in Oregon, one of the finest regions in the world for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The partnership between Domaine Serene and Linfield is already 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.

Founded in 1858, Linfield is a four-year liberal arts college with campuses in McMinnville and Portland, Oregon. Twenty-five percent of Linfield students are the first in their families to attend college, and more than one-third are American students of color. The U.S. State Department honored Linfield for being Oregon’s top producer of Fulbright Scholars in 2017-18.