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Grace and Ken Evenstad net the 2018Distinguished Service Award by Wine Spectator

The founding owners of Domaine Serene Winery in Dundee have been awarded the industry's top honor by Wine Spectator Magazine.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Grace and Ken Evenstad, owners of Domaine Serene winery and vineyards, received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from Wine Spectator.

Grace and Ken Evenstad, who also own Château de la Crée in Burgundy, France, received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award by the magazine, which honors "those that have made significant and long-lasting contributions to the wine industry," according to a press release. The release goes on to say the award will be given to the Evenstads "for playing a key role in the region's rise from a sleepy wine community to one of America's most dynamic and respected growing regions."

The couple were grateful for the award. "We are honored and thank Wine Spectator for this prestigious award recognizing our continuous efforts to elevate Oregon wines on the global stage." Grace Evenstad said in a press release.

The Evenstads said in an email that they were honored to receive the award that's only given to one person or couple annually. In the past, it's been given to chefs like Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck, and to wineries like Robert Mondavi and Joseph Drouhin.

"It is given in recognition of philanthropy and helping a viticulture area to reach international respect and prominence, which Ken and I have always tried to do," Grace Evenstad said.

"When we arrived in Yamhill the turkey business was over and then Hewlett-Packard left McMinnville, Mrs. Smith Pies, the walnut processing plant, the hazelnut processing plant in Dundee closed and Smuckers closed," she continued. "The county was in need of jobs and tax dollars. Over the years the wine industry has provided both, through employees and tourism. It has also saved the (Dundee) Hills from being subdivisions. The wine industry in my opinion is vital to the economic health and stability of Yamhill County."

The two accepted the award at a banquet at Wine Spectator's annual New York Wine Experience on Saturday. Three Domaine Serene wines were paired with a three-course meal as the event.

The Evenstads were honored for their 30-year career in Oregon for pushing the envelope, "planting pinot noir vineyards at high elevations including west-facing slopes and would go on to establish their highly successful and world-renowned Chardonnay program by planting early ripening Dijon clones at high elevations in deep Jory soils atop the Dundee Hills," a citation with the award stated.

The two settled in the northern Willamette Valley in 1989 hoping to produce wines to rival those of Burgundy. That lead them to purchasing land in the Dundee hills and plant there.

Domaine Serene produces wines from six individual vineyard estates, planted exclusively in pinot noir and chardonnay. In Oregon, the two own nearly 1,000 acres of land in the hills of Yamhill County, with 275 acres planted in wine grapes.

They are also the first Oregon-based winemakers to own land and produce wine in Burgundy and are the only winemakers in the world to have both a pinot noir and a chardonnay rank in the top three of the Wine Spectator's Top 100.

The two are also known for their philanthropic efforts. In September, the two pledged $500,000 to help eradicate the grapevine blotch virus, which is a threat to vineyard properties and wineries in the Willamette Valley. The hope is to raise a total of $1 million through matching donations.

The donation and initiative comes on the heels of a $6 million donation to Linfield College, the largest donation to support wine studies in Oregon history. The donation endows the Evenstad Center for Wine Education and the Evenstad Chair in Wine Studies at Linfield College.

Linfield is the first institution in the country to offer an interdisciplinary liberal arts degree and master's degree in wine studies. The Evenstads have now donated or raised more than $25 million for philanthropic causes over their careers.

Business briefs

Committee will pitch Riverfront plan

The Newberg Citizens Advisory Committee will present its recommendations for the updated Riverfront Master Plan at 6 p.m. Nov. 6 in the Newberg Public Library. The committee will then hear public input and review plan alternatives.

George Fox University athletic director to speak

George Fox University athletic director Adam Puckett will speak at a special luncheon at noon Friday at the school's Canyon Commons. Puckett will speak on the mission statement of the college's athletic department. Reservations are required, with a $10 fee payable at the door.

To make reservations, call Connie Magee at 503-927-5011.

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