The cold call to Lever Architecture came after Chase Renton, co-owner of a nascent Willamette Valley winery, walked through Union Way in Portland’s West End. Could Lever, the wood-clad shopping arcade’s designer, do something for L’Angolo Estate?
Last Thanksgiving the results went live: the 24-acre winery in the north Dundee Hills opened a sleek new tasting room bathed in light and redolent of Oregon timber, a structure Renton describes as “a perfect expression of the soil and the wine.”
“We aimed for simplicity and for natural beauty,” Renton adds. “Just like our wine, we wanted the tasting room to be elegant without being too grandiose.”
Lever principal Thomas Robinson says the regionalist pride that informs the Oregon wine industry played out in the design. “We looked at the building types that are native, if you will, to the Willamette Valley,” he says. “How can you evoke a pole barn in a vineyard setting?” The resulting building frames views of Mount Hood, and uses passive-cooling strategies—generously sized doors and clerestory windows, for example—to pursue energy-use goals. L’Angolo’s tasting room also reflects Pacific Northwest architecture’s rediscovery of homegrown timber: Lever tapped mills in Drain, Oregon, for upgraded versions of mass-produced beams fashioned from Southern Oregon trees.
“They were interested in expressing what winemaking in Oregon is now,” Robinson says of Renton’s farm-first ethic—L’Angolo makes wine only from grapes grown on-site. “And they wanted to reflect their own unadorned style.”