Oregon and Burgundy's relationship is deepening. Evenstad Estates, the owner of Oregon's Domaine Serene and Burgundy's Château de la Crée and Maison Evenstad, announced today a significant expansion in Burgundy's Côte d'Or with the acquisition of Domaine Christian Confuron & Fils. The domaine includes 15 acres of grands crus and premiers crus vineyards in the Côte de Nuits.
The price was not disclosed, but the deal includes parcels in the Bonnes Mares and Clos de Vougeot grands crus, premier cru lots in Chambolle-Musigny and Nuits-St.-Georges, as well as vines in the communes of Comblanchien, Gilly-lès-Cîteaux and Prémeaux-Prissey. The deal does not include a winery facility.
"This estate is a gem in the area," Evenstad president Ryan Harris told Wine Spectator. "The family has collected some extraordinary land over the years, which is obvious with the grands crus vines, but the premiers crus sites are next to grands crus, and village [parcels] right next to the premiers."
French investment in West Coast vineyards and wineries has been commonplace for decades, but rarely do U.S.-based companies invest in Burgundy. It’s a complicated process for non-natives to buy land in France.
"You have to know people who know people, who knows somebody who wants to sell something secretly," Evenstad owner and founder Grace Evenstad laughed. "The main thing is that they want the vineyards taken care of and [for you] to elevate the area."
"Having a foothold here gives us a chance to hear about things others wouldn't," said Harris, noting that the land is coveted, with so many interested buyers. Harris and Evenstad believe that in the short time they've been in Burgundy, they've been able to prove they make great wine and are trustworthy business people and worthy stewards of the land.
Domaine Christian Confuron & Fils, located in the heart of the Côte de Nuits in the village of Vougeot, was founded by Christian Confuron. He split from his family's Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron in the 1980s, taking a portion of the family's vines, some dating back to the 1920s. The domaine is now run by Christian's son, Philippe, and is planted exclusively to Pinot Noir, save for a small portion devoted to Pinot Blanc. All of the acres are sustainably farmed.
Ken and Grace Evenstad became the first Oregon vintners to own land and produce wine in Burgundy in 2015, when their company acquired Château de la Crée and 25 acres of vineyards in the Côte de Beaune. It was their passion for the great Pinot Noirs of Burgundy that first led them to Oregon.
This deal expands Evenstad's footprint in the area by roughly 60 percent. The Evenstads now own a total of 40 acres of vines in Burgundy and 300 in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Ken passed away in October 2020, and Grace has continued their shared vision of creating a synergy between Burgundy and Oregon.
"As with Domaine Serene, we want to make the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that can be made. That's always our goal," said Evenstad. "We never thought we'd be able to do it in France, but it's a dream come true."
The majority of the company's Burgundy wines are sold by the Evenstad's French-wine-only wine club, as well as through their tasting rooms in Oregon. A secondary goal of Grace's is elevating the village of Santenay, home of Château de la Crée, so they are working on restoring an 1830s mansion there where they hope to share their wines. "Santenay sits at the southern end of Côtes de Beaune and is often overlooked, but it's a beautiful village, and we're working on attracting visitors," she said. "We want to change the concept by making the wines more accessible and get people to visit and buy the wines."