A Few Fresh (and Bubbly) Reasons to Return to Wine Country

Argyle's dramatic new tasting house gives the Willamette Valley even more sparkle—plus where to eat, paddle, and shop in between tasting flights.

By Rachel Ritchie September 21, 2015 Published in the October 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Argyle

Much like an age-worthy bottle, Oregon’s wine country seems to get better with time.

Among the Willamette Valley’s almost 650 vineyards and more than 400 wineries, renovated tasting rooms and ambitious new restaurants sprout perennially, all catering to an increasingly global set of visitors. This month, as the vineyards’ ripening fruit is gathered, crushed, and barreled, the valley’s premier destination for sparkling wines, Argyle, reveals a dramatic new “tasting house.”

The former tasting room, headquartered since 1987 in a Victorian farmhouse in downtown Dundee, has transformed its adjacent cellars and production facility, formerly a hazelnut-drying facility, into a 4,500-square-foot tasting room, wine library, and retail “reserve cellar.” Working with Portland’s SERA Architects, Argyle reused large swaths of material from the former building to create a generous, flexible space: Douglas fir rafters provided exterior cladding, as well as tables, bars, and shelves for the interior. “It was truly a process of addition by subtraction,” says Argyle’s Chris Cullina.

Here’s how to plan your next wine country sojourn around a sampling of sparkling wines:


Drop into Dundee’s adorable Red Hills Market for a delightful midday meal—opt for either a high-minded sandwich like the mortadella with truffled-celery-
root rémoulade or a wood-fired pizza with seasonal vegetables and Dundee’s own Briar Rose chèvre. And don’t miss a round of bocce ball out back.

2 p.m.

Head across the street to Argyle’s smashing new building for your choice of three flights, each $15. Wander the display library to get a look at every bottle of wine Argyle has produced since 1987—that’s 4,000 bottles—and then head to the covered porch to enjoy your sparkles alfresco.

3 p.m.

Clear your mind in a kayak or canoe as you navigate the Willamette River, which borders Dundee, its shores thick with alder and cottonwood—not to mention osprey, hawks, eagles, and herons. Rent your watercraft at the Chehalem Paddle Launch and circumnavigate Ash Island in about an hour.

4:30 p.m.

Clear your palate at Deception Brewing, a shack-like nanobrewery serving a handful of creative pints, from apricot cream ale to rose hip saison.

5:30 p.m.

Back on Dundee’s main drag, in the former home of a gas station Chapter 24 Vineyards pairs award-winning pinots with performance art. Whether it’s aerial ballet or a live installation, it’ll enhance your sipping experience.

6:30 p.m.

Cap off your day with a meal at Newberg’s Ruddick/Wood, a cozy eatery serving fresh Northwest fare, from roast lamb to mushroom-and-quinoa falafel, alongside craft cocktails, rotating taps, and, of course, an extensive Oregon wine list. 

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