The people behind Oregon’s acclaimed Argyle Winery have always been leaders and innovators. In 1987, when vintner Rollin Soles founded Argyle, he pioneered the idea that the cool climate of the Willamette Valley was ideal for producing sparkling wines that could stand alongside the great wines of Champagne. Along the way, Argyle has continued to lead, bringing global attention to Oregon wines. With tasting rooms closed until recently, we checked in with the folks at Argyle to find out what they have been up to the past few months.
Argyle’s Vineyards Are Bursting with Life
With more than 500 acres of vines, spread across four Willamette Valley vineyards (Knudsen, Lone Star, Spirit Hill, and Giving Tree Vineyard), the team at Argyle considers themselves growers first. “Bud break began on April 7,” says Argyle Vineyard Manager Geoff Hall, “and now we are into bloom. At this time of year, you can practically hear the vines growing!” If conditions remain relatively normal, Hall expects an early September start to the winery’s sparkling harvest. The inaugural bottling of Pinot Noir from Giving Tree Vineyard, which was planted in 2015, was just released in May. The 2018 Giving Tree Pinot Noir provides an exciting preview of the potential of this vineyard.
In the Winery, the Bubbles Keep Flowing
As in the vineyards, work in the winery often follows the cycle of the seasons. Winemaker Nate Klostermann has been busy getting the 2019 sparkling wines ready for aging. “Over the last two months we’ve completed the tirage bottling for our 2019 sparkling wines. All of the wine is now actively fermenting in bottle and tasting deliciously pure. Most of it will now take a three-year nap before becoming our Vintage Brut, or it will age for 10 years and become our Extended Tirage Brut.”
The Argyle Tasting House Reopens in Time for Summer!
On June 1, the Argyle Tasting House reopened for reservation-required visits. Before reopening, the team made numerous changes to enhance the safety of staff and guests, which you can read about here. Additionally, the winery is still offering curbside pickup for online and phone orders. “This is our home and community, and we try to honor that in everything we do,” says Hospitality Director Allison Blythe. “We have been touched by all the support from our customers and club members in recent months, and we are excited to show our appreciation as they return to wine country themselves.”
Argyle in the Community
While many planned events have sadly been cancelled, Argyle remains active in the community. The winery’s acclaimed Art of Sparkling scholarship program with the Pacific Northwest College is now in its fifth year, and the three 2020 winning artists have been meeting online with the Argyle team as they work on the label art that will be revealed in September. Argyle has also joined forces with the James Beard Foundation Relief Fund to help support the restaurant and bar community in these difficult times. And, while the July 18 Fueled By Fine Wine Half Marathon has morphed into a virtual event, the run will go on in its own unique 2020 way! “The current situation has forced us to think creatively about how we bring our traditional partnerships to life,” says longtime Marketing Coordinator Cathy Martin. “Rather than cancel them altogether, we are looking at ways of keeping the activities going—just in a little different way. Flexibility and innovation have always been part of what we do here at Argyle, so this is taking that concept and applying it not only to wine growing and winemaking, but also to our community partnerships.”