DUNDEE, Ore. -- On a Tuesday morning, one hour before the tasting room opens, Domaine Serene’s parking lot is nearly full.
The Clubhouse, the winery's soon-to-open event space, sits at the end of Hilltop Lane in the Dundee Hills, stately and almost Tuscan. Yellow stucco and clay shingles make the Oregon cold seem like a façade, but in true local fashion, oaks line the side of the parking lot. Oak trees often offer shade to Willamette Valley vines, to help the grapes ripen into quintessential Oregon cool-climate pinot. These oaks have little vineyard utility, but Domaine Serene doesn't mind; whatever the vineyard is doing, it's doing it right.
Domaine Serene is the luxury estate behind some of Oregon’s top-scoring wines, including Wine Spectator’s best white wine of 2016 and best pinot noir of 2013. The label’s current bottles boast 91+ ratings from Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator and critic James Suckling. Domaine Serene often makes Editor’s Pick lists and Top 10s, with several kind words from legendary critic Robert Parker and accolades from Wine & Spirits magazine. Even celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse calls himself a Domaine Serene wine club member.
Lagasse will arrive Friday, May 19, for the invite-only gala celebrating The Clubhouse at Domaine Serene, the winery’s new luxury tasting room, club member lounge, wine cave and kitchen. The next day, the estate will host wine club members, and the building opens to the public on Sunday, May 21. Until then, the estate whirs in preparation. Construction equipment still litters the edges of the parking lot. A small compactor rolls back and forth in front of the clubhouse’s glass doors.Tucked away from the commotion down a flight of stairs, the gravity-flow winery building is quiet. The winery's tasting space soon will retire. Outside, an iron mammoth sculpture guards the grapes, where Carmine Campione, a hospitality associate and tasting guide, greets guests with glasses of rosé. Inside, he'll pour the Evenstad Reserve wines, the Wine Spectator darlings, named for the founders.