Marcus Larson/News-Register##Argyle’s new, larger tasting room in Dundee was completed this summer.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Argyle’s new, larger tasting room in Dundee was completed this summer.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Shelves holding bottles of Argyle’s wine. Although the winery is most famous for its sparkling wine, it also makes chardonnay, riesling and pinot noir.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Shelves holding bottles of Argyle’s wine. Although the winery is most famous for its sparkling wine, it also makes chardonnay, riesling and pinot noir.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##A covered patio adjoins Argyle’s new tasting room in Dundee. The larger facility was built in response to more customers stopping by to taste the sparkling wines it is known for.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##A covered patio adjoins Argyle’s new tasting room in Dundee. The larger facility was built in response to more customers stopping by to taste the sparkling wines it is known for.
By David Bates • Staff Writer • 

New tasting room preserves the past

The nearly 30-year-old company originally set up shop in an old pioneer house along what is now Highway 99W. Before its incarnation as a tasting room, the two-story building also served as Dundee City Hall.

But the biggest transformation came this summer, with Argyle transforming one of the structures behind the original tasting room. It used to provide the company with a place to make wine, but has been converted into a place where customers can drink wine instead.

The old tasting room had maxed out at around 25,000 visitors a year. It remains is use, but is now being supplemented with a larger and more visually inviting space where enthusiasts can sample and learn about the product.

The 3,500-square-foot facility blends the old and new, with a contemporary design that incorporates timber and siding from an adjoining building that was meticulously dismantled. A third structure retains the frame and crush pads — round, concrete pedestals that used to hold tanks.

“The overall concept was, we weren’t building a new building,” said Chris Cullina, Argyle’s director of sales and marketing. “We were renovating two old ones. It required not just a different set of skills for the contractor, but a different mindset.”

The design work was handled by SERA Architects and the construction work by Lease Crutcher Lewis. The design phase began last summer, the construction phase in December.

The mild winter allowed for work to proceed quickly. That allowed Argyle to open the third week of August.

The winery itself moved to Newberg, leaving the property at 691 Highway 99W to showcase the sparkling wine product for which it is best known. Eight full-time staffers were brought in to run the facility.

Cullina said the design was intended to strike a balance between old and new, rural and urban. The aim was to retain industrial features from the original facility and incorporate them in a warm, consumer-friendly atmosphere flexible enough to allow both indoor and outdoor seating.

The grounds feature native plant landscaping, along with bike racks for life in a presumably less congested post-bypass Dundee.

Inside, a wine shop has been developed.

It stands down the hall from a climate-controlled wine library with enough room for 4,000 bottles dating back to Argyle’s 1987 founding. Cullina hopes the library will convey an important idea that he says is often lost on consumers more interested in the “instant gratification” of buying a bottle and drinking it within a day or two.

“One of the challenges that all of us have in the industry is we’re sort of pushing back against modernity,” he said. “Back in the old days, people bought wine and let it age at home. What we’re trying to show people is that these wines will actually improve if you collect accordingly.”

The tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For groups of six or more, reservations are strongly recommended.

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