Winemaker Tony Rynders, who in the past decade has produced some of Oregon's most impressive Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays at Domaine Serene, has left the winery to pursue his own projects.
"I wanted to make wine for myself," Rynders said, "and branch out and do some consulting." Rynders said that he offered to remain as a consulting winemaker but owners Ken and Grace Evenstad declined.
"It became apparent that Tony did not share our vision for Domaine Serene," said Grace. She declined to offer specifics. Rynders' last day was May 12. "He made some lovely wines," she said.
While Evenstad searches for a new fulltime head winemaker, Drew Voit, a former associate winemaker, will return in the interim as a consultant. "We're talking to some very exciting candidates," said Evenstad, who hopes to make a decision within the next few weeks.
Rynders, 45, said that after 10 years, he was ready for new challenges. "I enjoy the development side of the business," he said. In addition to building his consulting business, Rynders is planning a vineyard on a site he owns outside Carlton. He is also a partner in Octave Vineyard in Washington's Walla Walla Valley, and has plans to produce wine from that 22-acre vineyard planted to Bordeaux varieties.
Founded by the Evenstads in 1989, Domaine Serene is located in the Dundee Hills of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Well-known Oregon winemaker Ken Wright made the wines for the first few years, before Rynders took over in 1998. Together, Rynders and the Evenstads made outstanding Pinots, earning 93 points each for two of their 2004 single-vineyard wines—the Grace Vineyard and Mark Bradford Vineyard.