Best known as the namesake, director, and winemaker of one of the great estates of Meursault, Dominique is a descendant of Jules Lafon, who created the revered wine festival, La Paulée. After taking over his family's domaine in the 1980s, Dominique revitalized its red and white winemaking approach. In 2015, after a long friendship with Larry, Dominique joined Lingua Franca as Consulting Winemaker and works with the team to oversee winemaking and vineyard operations.
Can you tell us about your first memory of enjoying wine? What was your first job in the wine industry?
"As far as enjoying wine, the situation is pretty different when you are born in Burgundy... I have always seen wine on a table and had access to it. Wine was always a normal part of life and at that time I didn't see it as anything special. Later in 1981, I had my first job as a cellar intern in California and became close friends with wine industry veterans Mel Knox and Jim Olsen, both long-time wine collectors and big fans of Burgundy. This made me realize how special Burgundy was and prompted me to take over my family estate. This also happens to be around the same time that I first visited Oregon!"
You’ve said that your interest in wine starts with agriculture. What are the main differences you’ve seen between the vineyards in the Willamette Valley and those in Burgundy?
"Burgundy and the Willamette Valley share the same grape varietals and the same cool climate, however the weather patterns are often quite different: in Oregon, after bloom, it's sunny almost every day, but in Burgundy, it's not uncommon to see a fair amount of rain or overcast weather during the ripening season. Oregon also sees much less disease pressure and the vines are easier to manage because they're planted farther apart leaving more space for tractors, plowing and hand work. In Burgundy, we are required to plant 10,000 vines per hectare by law making the vineyard feel more condensed. The Eola-Amity Hills AVA where the LF Estate Vineyard is located gets those amazing breezes from the Pacific ocean all summer, which enhances the flavor profile of the wines."
What have you learned from your time as a consulting winemaker in Oregon?
"I have learned that you can't apply all your tricks that work well in Burgundy. The goal is to achieve great Oregon wines, not a pale copy of Burgundy. Overtime I have learned more and more about the sense of place, with all its potential. Honestly, it feeds my knowledge, and I feel stronger in Burgundy now that I have faced new places, new questions."
What do you like to do outside of work?
"I am an outdoorsy person. I like to walk, bike, ride horses, swim, sail and ski. I like the ocean as much as the mountains! I also enjoy good food whether at home or in restaurant and I listen to a lot of music, from rock and roll (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young) to quite a bit of jazz (Miles Davis and Chet Baker) to traditional French music (Georges Brassens, Léo Ferré, Alain Bashung). I wish I had time to play an instrument like the piano or guitar. I read a lot too; I've been living without a TV at home for more than 20 years."
What are you drinking at home these days?
"If I could get enough, I would drink the 2016 Bunker Hill Chardonnay, one of my favorite Chardonnays we've produced. Because many of the Lingua Franca Chardonnays are made in limited quantities and there is often such a high demand, I often find myself drinking White Burgundies (it happens I have quite a few bottles!). In the spring and summer, I switch to drinking Riesling, German or Alsatian, and sometimes Chenin Blanc. But I cannot live without Pinot Noir, which represents about 80% of my red wine consumption!"
Tune in Saturday, July 18th at 11:00 am (PST) to hear Dominique participate in a webinar moderated by New York Times Wine Critic, Eric Asimov. Click here for more details.
1 Cup Dry White Wine (Avni Chardonnay works great!)
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Sweet Marsala Wine
10 ounces of Baby Portabella, Shitake, or Crimini Mushrooms brushed, Stemmed and Sliced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 ½ Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, Finely Chopped
1 Tablespoon Chives, Finely Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
1 Shallot, Finely Chopped
1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 ½ Teaspoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper
5 Tablespoons Cold Unsalted Butter, Diced Into Cubes
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375℉
Mix the white wine and chicken stock in a medium sauce pan and warm over medium heat to a slight simmer.
Remove the silver skin from the pork tenderloin and pat it dry with a paper towel. Mix the salt and pepper in a small bowl and use it to coat the tork tenderloin as evenly as possible on all sides.
For the risotto: put the olive oil in a large sauce pan and turn the burner to medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallot and sauté for 2 minutes or until soft and translucent. Do not let the edges burn or turn brown. Add the rice to the pan and mix with the shallot and oil to coat. Sauté for 3 - 4 minutes stirring gently but constantly to avoid burning until the rice starts to produce a slightly nutty aroma. Add enough of the warm chicken stock and wine mixture to just cover the rice and stir to mix. Set the heat level to medium low and let the rice simmer.
Check the rice every 5 minutes or so by running a spatula through the center of the pan. When the rice divides and doesn't immediately fill the space made by the spatula, add another dose of the stock mixture to just cover the rice and give it a few stirs to incorporate. Repeat this step until the stock is used up and the rice is tender.
For the pan roasted pork: While the rice is cooking, put 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy steel sauté pan and set the burner to high. When it the oil begins to shimmer, carefully add the pork tenderloin to the pan — it may smoke a bit so make sure your vent hood is running. Let the meat sear for 2-3 minutes, until it releases from the pan without tearing its surface, and rotate a quarter turn. Repeat this two more times to brown the meat on all four sides. When you turn the meat the third time (on the fourth side) carefully put a probe thermometer through the end of the tenderloin as level as you can to the middle of the meat and put the pan in the oven to roast. Remove the tenderloin from the oven when the thermometer reads 145℉ and cover lightly with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes to let the meat rest.
For the Marsala mushrooms: while the meat is roasting in the oven, combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high until the butter is melted and foamy. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown and shrink slightly. Turn the heat down to medium and add 1 teaspoon of chives, thyme and garlic along with the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet and stir to combine with the mushrooms. Continue to stir the mushrooms every few minutes. When the mushrooms are uniformly brown and most of the oil has been soaked up, remove from the heat and add the Marsala wine. Stir to deglaze the pan and coat the mushrooms. Return to medium-low heat and stir gently until the marsala is mostly absorbed into the mushrooms.
If the last dose of broth has been incorporated into the risotto, add the mushroom mixture directly to the risotto and stir to combine. If not, move the mushroom mixture to a bowl and cover to hold temporarily and then add it to the risotto when the last dose of stock has been absorbed.
Remove the risotto from the heat and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the risotto and stir to incorporate. Then add the cold butter, one cube at a time and stir it into the risotto until it is melted and mixed in. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the tenderloin into 1 1/2 to 2 inch portions. Put a large serving spoon or two full of risotto onto a plate and place a portion (or two) of tenderloin on top. Turn a few grinds of black pepper over each serving and garnish with the remaining chives.
The combination of salty, sweet and savory makes for the perfect pairing to The Plow Pinot Noir. Try it on grilled steak, chicken, salmon or vegetables. Store it in an airtight container for up to three months, or package it in a jar and give it as a gift.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Joe spent several years working as a biomedical engineer in Los Angeles; however, his travels to wine country on the West Coast and abroad motivated him to rethink his path in life. After working a harvest in Paso Robles, Joe fell in love with winemaking and made the decision to switch careers. He went back to school to earn a viticulture and enology master’s degree at UC Davis, and after graduating he worked harvests on the Sonoma Coast as well as abroad in Germany and New Zealand. Upon returning stateside, Joe put down roots in the Willamette Valley and joined our winemaking team in 2018 as Cellar Master.
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?
"Prior to switching careers, I was working as a biomedical engineer at a medical device company in Los Angeles, CA. To be a little more specific, I provided pacemaker and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) technical support for our sales team, physicians, and patients. During this time, I was also accepted into medical school in Chicago. My partner (now wife) Molly and I were enjoying the West Coast, traveling to wine regions and enjoying the great outdoors. I was at a crossroads in my life, and I did a lot of reflecting and meditating on my career choices and my work-life dynamic. In the end, I made the decision to turn down a career in medicine in order to pursue a lifestyle that combines science, art, family and community... wine!"
What was your ‘epiphany’ wine and do you remember that moment? "Not to side-step this question, but I don’t really have an “ah-ha” wine that sent me on this path. Instead, I would say that I was captivated by a specific wine region during one of my international harvest internships: the Pfalz region of Germany, which is known for their amazing dry Rieslings. While working at Weingut Pflüger (a multi-generational winemaking family) in Bad Dürkheim, I witnessed first-hand how wine and community are intertwined. We ate and drank wine every lunch with family and friends, served wine spritzers at a stand at Wurstmarkt, the world’s largest wine festival, and joined in on many of the other local festivities. I did also, of course, drink some spectacular Rieslings from some historic vineyards in the area, such as Pechstein and Kirchenstück."
What do you like doing outside of work?
"I enjoy spending time with my wife Molly and our newly adopted pup named Sir Felton John, cooking, and drinking good wine with friends. It’s a bit dorky, but I also love to read viticulture and enology research papers, and I'm part of a journal club that meets regularly."
What are you enjoying drinking these days?
"My wife and I have been really into Italian wines, specifically Nebbiolo from Valtellina; these wines are bright, floral, and elegant... and much cheaper than their cousins in Barolo and Barbaresco. I've also been digging the “newish” trend of canned cocktails to kick off the summer patio sessions, with the Apicco Spritz from Straightaway Cocktails here in Portland as one of my faves."
This recipe is quite simple and perfect for a wide range of Pinot Noirs and terrific with complex or mature wines as the seasoning subtly enhances the flavors of the dish rather than fighting them. My version below was adapted from Liberty Duck Farm’s recipe.
Purchase a high-quality, plump duck breast - one per person. I buy them online from D'Artagnan and when I lived in Northern California, I purchased them fresh from Liberty Ducks in Sonoma. If there is a good local farm with fresh duck, buy from them.
My recipe is very easy - duck is so flavorful that not much needs to be done.
High-quality, plump duck breast - one per person (see notes above)
Canola or Grapeseed Oil
Salt & Pepper
I rinse and dry the duck, trim the fat cap at the edges to fit nicely on the meat surface and not hang over. I salt lightly all over, make parallel diagonal slits across the surface of the fat, about 5mm apart. This cuts the surface of the skin and allows the fat to render without curling.
Then coat the duck all over with ample ground cardamom. Air dry it with a fan for around 20 minutes so that the meat and fat are very dry on the surface. Air drying prevents some sticking to the pan and prevents some loss of meat juices.
Take a hot aluminum, cast iron or high-quality stainless-steel skillet or sauté pan (not non-stick) of sufficient size that allows for ample room for each breast. Pre-heat on stove. When hot, drop a little grapeseed or canola oil on the surface of the pan and spread it around by rotating the pan in a circular motion. It should be just enough so that the duck will not stick to the pan before rendering its fat.
Lay the breasts skin side down in the pan. Move breasts around frequently when first getting them in the pan to avoid their sticking. After a few minutes and when the fat starts to render and the skin begins to brown, turn the heat to a medium to medium-high temperature depending upon how hot your range burns. Too hot and the skin will burn, lower is better to have time to let the fat render and leave a thin tasty layer of fat on the breast with a crispy brown to dark black surface.
The idea is to render the fat without overcooking the meat. One could have a can on the side to dump excess duck fat as it melts, but that would be a waste. As the fat renders and starts to build up in the pan, pour the excess fat into a glass container that can be sealed. It may be necessary to go through this a couple of times before the duck is done. This duck fat is delicious to fry potatoes with, collard or mustard greens, broccoli rabe or anything that you may want to cook with bacon fat. It can be frozen and stored for months or kept in the refrigerator for several weeks. This fat will also have a subtle flavor of cardamom.
When the skin becomes dark mahogany-colored and the meat appear to have cooked almost halfway up the side of the breast, then turn over the breasts and finish frying them in a few minutes. If you like your duck breast rare, let it only seem to begin to cook up the sides (you can tell by the change in color of meat from dark red to a brownish white) and then sear meat side down for only a couple of minutes.
Eat the lean slices of duck breast together with the layer of crisp fragrant fat, which tastes and smells a lot like an elevated type of bacon. The combination of the meat and cardamom used as a savory spice is quite compelling with Lingua Franca Estate Pinot Noir, The Plow, or Mimi's Mind. Enjoy!
and the newest addition to the Lingua Franca Team!
Originally from Bend, Oregon, Brandon graduated from the Washington State University with a degree in enology and viticulture. From there he went on to work a harvest in New Zealand and then lived in Casablanca, Chile for a year, where he helped make wine for a small producer specializing in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. After a stint as the Assistant Winemaker at Abacela in Southern Oregon, he relocated to the Willamette Valley to shift his focus to vineyard management. Day to day, Brandon works with Thomas, overseeing the LF Estate and Bunker Hill Estate Vineyards and collaborates with the winemaking team's operations, including blending trials. Like many of us here at Lingua Franca, Brandon is in the Valley to pursue the most elusive of all wine grapes, with charm, character and transparency, Pinot Noir.
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?
"I decided to pursue working in the wine industry while I was still in college. I spent my first two years of school as a pre-vet, animal science major. At one point I was working two part-time jobs, one on the campus orchard and vineyard and one in a vet clinic. I started to realize that I enjoyed myself a lot more while working out in the orchard, and as soon as I realized that I could get a degree in Viticulture and Enology and build a career in the wine industry, I pursued it full force."
Is there a memorable experience that initially drew you and connects you to this work and lifestyle? "One experience that I think back on a lot was on a trip to visit my mom’s family in the Basque country of Spain. My cousins took us out to dinner one night at a cider house in the countryside. That experience of eating a family style meal next to strangers in the barrel hall and filling our glasses straight out of the foudre has been cemented in my mind as a moment when I fell in love with the craft beverage industry. It has always been the combination of agriculture, artisanship and community that draws me to farming and winemaking."
What do you like doing when you aren’t at Lingua Franca?
"When I’m not at work I really enjoy spending time around McMinnville. It’s been a great community to be a part of for the last several years. There always seems to be a backyard cook-out to attend and amazing wines to try. As much as we can, my girlfriend, Mallory, and I love to spend time backpacking in the Cascades and exploring the Northwest."
What are your thoughts on the LF Estate and Bunker Hill Estate Vineyards thus far in the season, since you’ve begun working on them? "I consider myself pretty lucky to get to be a part of the Lingua Franca vineyard as it reaches maturity. There is still so much to be learned on this site, and it will be exciting to see how each block further differentiates itself in the coming years. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s amazing to be able to be working with older vines at Bunker Hill, especially in such a unique area as the Salem Hills. Each site has its own challenges and I hope to continue farming them in ways that bring out their best qualities."
If you've joined any of our weekly Wine Webinar Wednesday presentations, you may already be well acquainted with Sam. A native of the Midwest, Sam holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics from Butler University, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Indiana University.
An avid traveler and wine enthusiast, Sam has explored wine regions throughout Europe and the U.S. His travels ultimately led him to establish roots here in the Willamette Valley and shift his focus exclusively to the wine industry after living in Scottsdale, Arizona, where among other things, he decided to open a wine bar. He has since become a CMS Certified Sommelier, a SWE Certified Wine Educator, and is currently pursuing the WSET Diploma.
"Running the wine bar is what really got me hooked on changing careers to get into the wine industry professionally.”
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?"I was a consultant to the global pharmaceutical industry specializing in Sales and Marketing strategy, Clinical Trial implementation, Leadership Development and other professional training programs for about 25 years. Some of that morphed into creating an event production, graphics, and visualization development company for large corporate events. I also founded and ran a wine bar in Scottsdale, AZ in the middle 2000's. Running the wine bar is what really got me hooked on changing careers to get into the wine industry professionally."
What was your "epiphany" wine and do you remember that moment?
"Like it was yesterday! I was having dinner with the partners of the consulting firm I worked for at the time in 1995. The managing partner was a wine guy and he ordered a bottle of 1990 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. Up until that time, my go-to wines were Bartles & James and White Zinfandel! That glass of Caymus set off all kinds of fireworks in my head. I'd never tasted anything that was so exciting and complex. Needless to say, I was hooked and never looked back. Joey Harrington was kind enough to gift me a bottle of 1990 Caymus from his cellar last year — it's now displayed in a place of honor in my cellar at home."
What is your favorite go-to wine accessory at home?
"I couldn’t have completed any of my wine certifications without a Coravin. It’s an indispensable tool for enjoying just a glass without feeling guilty about pulling the cork. High quality glassware is a very close second."
What are you enjoying drinking these days?
"Having recently visited Spain, I’m drinking a lot of Rioja and Ribera del Duero right now. We visited quite a few bodegas while we were there, but the two standouts were Marques de Murrietta in Logroño, Rioja and Vega Sicilia in Ribera de Duero. Murrietta’s 2015 Rioja Reserva and our 2018 Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay have gotten a lot of 'glass time' since we’ve returned."
"My favorite dish to pair with the 2017 Bunker Hill Chardonnay is Poulet Gaston Gerard — a classic Burgundian chicken dish served in a sauce of white wine, Dijon mustard, crème fraîche and grated comté." - Thomas Savre, Winemaker
Poulet Gaston Gerard
Ingredients (Serves 4):
4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Medium White Onion, Halved and Sliced into Ribbons
½ Teaspoon Paprika
1 Cup of Dry White Wine
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
8 Ounces Crème fraîche or Sour Cream
6 Ounces Grated Comté or Gruyère Cheese
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1 Sprig of Thyme (optional)
Sliced, Warm Baguette
Preheat oven to 400° F
Pat the chicken breasts with a paper towel to remove surface liquid, and then season both sides of the breast generously with salt and pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet until simmering, then add the chicken breasts and brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side
Remove chicken from the skillet and place in a baking dish
In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil and the onion slices and sauté until slightly translucent
Add the white wine, crème fraîche, mustard, thyme and paprika, stir until combined and slightly bubbling
Pour over the sauce over the chicken breasts in the baking dish and top with the grated cheese
Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165° F
Serve immediately with a basket of baguette slices
Kim joined Lingua Franca as Assistant Winemaker in early 2017. Born and raised in Louisiana, Kimberly made the decision to pack up and move west as a recent business school graduate after a stint working in the wine distribution world. "There, I was introduced to the vast world of wine, spirits and beer. Wine grabbed my attention and it never let go." Her newly found passion led her across the country and around the world, before she landed here in Oregon.
"Everything at Lingua Franca is a group effort, we look to all members of the winemaking team for input on our wines."
In the beginning, Kim did it all, from helping to establish systems, to packing, shipping and delivering wine, to hosting tastings, all while getting to know our vineyards and wines. Over the years her role has evolved. She now helps manage our growing winemaking team and assists with day to day operations with Winemaker Thomas Savre's direction. During harvest Kim begins with a laser focus on our Chardonnays, and once they are all happily fermenting, she quickly shifts over to Pinot Noir.
"We are continually improving and getting to know our vineyards more and more each year. I spend a lot of my time in the vineyards, and in the beautiful green spaces surrounding the winery, which we hope to call 'the farm' one day."
Kim also tends to our four new beehives. We have partnered with Jacobsen Salt's beekeeper, Emily Schmiedel, through their Bee Local program to learn sustainable beekeeping and begin harvesting our own estate honey next year.
"I am proud that here at Lingua Franca we are contributing to saving the bees! I look forward to the day we are able to harvest honey but for now I am appreciating them buzzing about, collecting pollen and watching all the new baby bees emerge."
What are you enjoying drinking these days? "Needless to say there is always wine on the table. Recently it’s been a lot of Jolie-Laide Wines out of Sebastopol, California. The Trousseau Gris and Melon de Bourgogne are incredibly tasty and go with just about anything we’ve cooked for the evening. My husband is also a winemaker, so we do a lot of blind tasting around the dinner table, sometimes classic wines and sometimes obscure varietals. Our nightcap is Domaine Roulot L’Abricot, Apricot Liqueur. It will change your life . . . Trust me."
What do you like to do when you’re not at Lingua Franca?
"There are two places you can usually find me when I'm not at work: in my garden and roaming the coastal range for mushrooms, always accompanied by my pup Cedar Roux. Gardening pushes me to be more patient and creative, every year something succeeds and something fails. I have a tendency to go all in; I’ve currently got twenty-five different types of tomatoes waiting to go into the ground.
"The bounty of the Pacific Northwest is all-giving when you find the right spot. That feeling of finding a patch of chanterelles — pure excitement, where nothing else matters in that moment. I like to call mushroom hunting adult treasure hunting, though it always makes me feel like a kid again. The meals to follow are always mind blowing and a reminder that nature provides for us when you allow it to.