Leap of Faith
Faith is believing in something even when common sense tells you not to. However, on this particular night, you won’t need to leap at all. Merely arriving at Grace and Ken Evenstad’s splendid waterfront home on Port Royal’s Man-o-War Bay will convince you of the certainty that a magical evening awaits you. Co-host Donna Solimene will join the Evenstads on this night that will have enophiles and gourmands jumping for joy.
A passion and commitment to produce the world’s best Pinot noir led Ken and Grace to Oregon in 1989. They founded Domain Serene in North Willamette Valley, where Oregon Pinot noir began. Domaine Serene’s environmentally friendly farming practices and extremely low crop yields produce consistently concentrated, award-winning wines. Robert Parker Jr. rated Domaine Serene as one of only two outstanding producers of Pinot noir in Oregon. In a blind tasting, Domaine Serene bested the most sought after Pinot Noirs in France, while wine writer Anthony Dias Blue declared Domaine Serene the “Chateau Lafite of Oregon.”
The leaps between Oregon, France and Naples will find their reward in the gastronomic pleasures of Thierry Rautureau. His cooking philosophy at Rover’s is simple and inspired by his childhood on a farm in the Muscadet region of France: star with the most delicious, seasonal, homegrown ingredients and accentuate their intrinsic flavors. Influenced by flavors of the Pacific Northwest, he uses a global palate rich with French and Mediterranean overtones as well as surprising Asian elements.
Attending this remarkable dinner is definitely the easiest leap of faith you will ever make!
Host: Grace and Ken Evenstad
Ken Evenstad is the chairman and CEO of Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc., a Maple Grove, Minnesota-based pharmaceutical company specializing in cardiovascular, dermatological, generic drugs. Upsher-Smith has manufacturing operations in Minnesota and Colorado. A national field sales force represents their products to physicians and pharmacists nationwide. The company is privately held by the Evenstad family.
Ken holds a degree in pharmacy from the University Of Minnesota College Of Pharmacy and is the inventor of numerous patents in the pharmaceutical field. He is a member of the World Presidents Organization, excelling in national and International business leadership, and has held the office of President, Vice President and Education Chair for his local chapter.
He and his wife, Grace, are also proprietors of Domaine Serene, an Oregon vineyard and winery estate specializing in world class Pinot Noir wine. The wines are distributed nationally and are available at the country’s finest restaurants and wine shops. The wines are also distributed internationally In the United Kingdom, Japan, Western Europe, China, Canada and Australia.
Ken was a finalist in the 1998 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, and a finalist In the Minnesota Business Technology Awards, and was again nominated twice In 2001 for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for which he won the Master Entrepreneur of the Year award, given for maintaining management excellence over a sustained period of time.
Grace Bradford Evenstad was raised in Wayzata, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis where she continues to maintain a home. She graduated from Abbott as a Registered Nurse and specialized in intensive care and coronary care in hospitals in Minneapolis and Anchorage, Alaska.
In 1966, Grace married Kenneth Evenstad. She has been a community volunteer all her life. In 2006, she was the chairman of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, raising $13.7 million.
In 1989, Grace and Ken founded Domaine Serene Vineyards and Winery, Inc. in Oregon. As co-general manager, Grace has been responsible for sales, marketing, public relations, events and also oversees vineyard management. Domaine Serene now owns three vineyard estates totaling 320 acres in the N. Willamette Valley and produces highly acclaimed, ultra-premium Oregon Pinot noir, chardonnay, and syrah wine.
Grace and her husband maintain homes in Naples, FL, Oregon, and Minnesota.
Vintner: Grace and Ken Evenstad
Willamette Valley, Oregon
A passion and commitment to produce the world’s best Pinot Noir led Ken and Grace to Oregon in 1989. They founded Domaine Serene in the North Willamette Valley, where Oregon Pinot Noir began. With three vineyard estates totaling 312 acres planted exclusively to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Domaine Serene’s environmentally friendly farming practices and extremely low crop yields produce consistently concentrated, award-winning wines. Robert Parker, rated Domaine Serene as one of only two outstanding producers of Pinot Noir in Oregon, and the 17th Annual Wine & Spirits Restaurant Poll named Domaine Serene Pinots as the most popular Oregon Pinot Noir in the country. In the now legendary “Domaine Serene vs. Domaine de la Romanée Conti” blind tasting, Domaine Serene bested the most sought-after Pinot Noirs in France, while renowned wine writer, Anthony Dias Blue, declared Domaine Serene the “Château Lafite of Oregon.”
Chef: Thierry Rautureau
Owner and executive chef
During a 1987 trip to Seattle, Chef Thierry Rautureau dined at Rover’s and discovered the landmark restaurant was for sale. The prospect of owning his own restaurant and creating a Pacific Northwest lifestyle was one Rautureau could not turn down.
His cooking philosophy is simple and inspired by his childhood on a farm in the Muscadet region of France: start with the most delicious, seasonal, homegrown ingredients and accentuate their intrinsic flavors. Rautureau’s cuisine can best be described as whimsical. Heavily influenced by Pacific Northwest ingredients, Rautureau uses a global palate rich with French and Mediterranean overtones and surprising Asian elements. He has won various awards including the James Beard Award for “Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest” and the Chevalier de l’Ordre Du Merite Agricole by the government of France, his home country.
In 2005, Rautureau published a cookbook written with Cynthia Nims, Rover’s: Recipes from Seattle’s Chef in the Hat. He is also the co-host of Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen on CBS Radio KIRO 710 every Saturday. Rautureau lives in Seattle with his wife and their two sons.