Domaine Serene's Revolving Door

A top Oregon Pinot producer hires its third winemaker in three years
May 18, 2011

When Erik Kramer took the reins last month as the new winemaker at Oregon’s Domaine Serene, he became the winery’s third in just over three years. Kramer, most recently assistant winemaker at Adelsheim, replaces Eleni Papadakis, who left Domaine Serene under conditions both she and winery general manager Allen Carter characterized as “amicable.”

Not so the previous roster change. When Tony Rynders, who had been Domaine Serene’s winemaker since 1998, left in 2008, Serene co-owner Grace Evenstad told Wine Spectator, "It became apparent that Tony did not share our vision for Domaine Serene." Evenstad and her husband, Ken, then filed a lawsuit, accusing Rynders of stealing winery secrets. The lawsuit was settled out of court, no money changing hands (except that which went to the lawyers).

While no one is talking much about why Papadakis left, there is no doubt that the Evenstads continue to have ambitious goals for their project. Founded 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. Wright, Rynders and Papadakis made consistently outstanding Pinots, including one of the highest rated in the classic-rated 2008 vintage—the Grace Vineyard bottling, which scored 97 points.

The Evenstads came to wine late, buying the property after spending their lives building a successful pharmaceutical firm. A love for Pinot and a bottle from Oregon they tasted in 1989 inspired them to take the plunge.

After his abrupt departure, Rynders went on to start his own Oregon winery, Tendril, and partner with Madaiah Revana on a Pinot Noir called Sitar. He also owns vineyard property in Walla Walla and consults with Swiftwater Cellars in Washington.

Papadakis left Domaine Serene “for personal reasons,” she said, and disclosed no specific plans. “It is extraordinarily difficult to let go of the wines that I poured my heart and soul into over the last few years,” she said. “And yes, I do still wake thinking of tending this or that barrel.”

“At present I am looking for opportunities that will allow me to engage in more collaborative winegrowing,” she said. She hopes to remain in Oregon, where she is “excited about cool-climate Chardonnay.”

Kramer, who earned a degree in geology at Florida State University, studied viticulture and enology at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has experience at wineries in Washington and New Zealand.

United States Oregon News

You Might Also Like

What Do You Do with 1,000 Bottles of Cooked Wine? Zachys' Insurer Is Suing Shippers over Alleged Mishandling of Wine

What Do You Do with 1,000 Bottles of Cooked Wine? Zachys' Insurer Is Suing Shippers over Alleged Mishandling of Wine

The wine auction house's insurance company has asked a federal court for compensation after …

May 27, 2020
The Mediterranean Diet, Including Wine, May Decrease Frailty Among Elderly and Improve Gut Health

The Mediterranean Diet, Including Wine, May Decrease Frailty Among Elderly and Improve Gut Health

Researchers found those who stuck to the diet for a year enjoyed a more diverse microbiome …

May 26, 2020
U.S. Restaurants Start Reopening

U.S. Restaurants Start Reopening

Select states are allowing dine-in service following months of lockdowns. Plus, Napa’s …

May 21, 2020
Big Star, Small Screen: A Live Chat with Emeril

Big Star, Small Screen: A Live Chat with Emeril

The superstar chef shares how he's keeping busy during the pandemic and how his team is …

May 20, 2020
Live from Lockdown with Danny Meyer

Live from Lockdown with Danny Meyer

The restaurant owner shares the latest news from Union Square Hospitality Group on Wine …

May 19, 2020
Oregon Wineries Open Doors

Oregon Wineries Open Doors

In recent days, several tasting rooms have reopened with new safety measures in place, but …

May 19, 2020