Pinot power couple Grace and Ken Evenstad became Oregon wine players in the early 1990s, with the first vintages of their “luxury” winery Domaine Serene. Recently the Evenstads doubled down on their Willamette Valley investment: building a 30,000-square-foot members’ “clubhouse” in the Dundee Hills, expanding their area vineyard and property holdings, and unveiling a tasting room in downtown Portland.
But this March, they broke out the magnum: a $6 million gift to endow Linfield College’s Grace and Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education, one of the largest donations in the school’s history.
The mandate? To develop a wine studies major that breaks from viticulture science programs elsewhere in the nation. Rather than only winemaking, Linfield’s curricula will focus on “soft skills” for the next generation of wine professionals: club managers, food writers, and publicists steeped in both soil science and social history, sensory evaluation and hospitality. According to wine climatologist Gregory Jones, the center’s newly named chair, it’s “the first multidisciplinary degree in wine education in the United States, and perhaps the world.” Might we suggest an elective? Drunken Clubhouse Navigation 101.