A small liberal arts college in Willamette Valley is significantly expanding its wine-education program with the help of a $6 million gift from one of Oregon's leading wine families. The donation from Grace and Ken Evenstad of Domaine Serene is one of the largest in Linfield College's 160-year history.
The money establishes the Grace and Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield, which will create a new degree in wine studies, endow a faculty position and fund the design and construction of a wine laboratory as part of a new science building under development on McMinnville campus.
"We're just so happy to do this for the wine community and this beautiful college," Grace Evenstad told Wine Spectator. Linfield, which is home to the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, previously offered a minor in wine studies, and the Evenstads believed it was time for the next step. "This will focus on all aspects of running a successful and sustainable wine business," said Grace.
The new degree integrates historic, geographic and environmental studies with an overview of viticulture and winemaking as well as the business side of sales, marketing and more. Gregory Jones, a specialist in the climatology of viticulture, will lead the program as Evenstad Chair in Wine Studies. It's the first program of this size in Oregon, which has not had the same education programs as universities in California and Washington.
The Evenstads founded Domaine Serene in the nearby Dundee Hills in 1989 and quickly established an impressive reputation for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The couple has donated and raised more than $20 million for philanthropic causes nationwide, and will continue to support the new Linfield wine program as it expands.
"We want to do what it takes to make it successful," said Grace. "Our mission is to ensure this region makes the best, top-quality wines."