Our Riesling Story

We have always taken Riesling seriously.  It has been a part of the Argyle story from the very beginning.  We use the same words when talking about our Riesling, as we do our other more notable varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Words like “age-worthy”, “high density” and “devigorated” all apply to Argyle Riesling. 

From 1988-1999 we made a dry-styled, age worthy Riesling from an older block in the Knudsen Vineyard.  The vineyard block was planted on its own roots and to the standard of 600 vines/acre that was established in the 1970’s. 

With the advent of phylloxera and the giant leaps in viticulture that Oregon Pinot Noir had experienced during the 90’s and 2000’s, Argyle began a project to truly honor our own excitement for Riesling 

For 2 years we researched and interviewed some of the great Riesling makers and institutions of Germany, Switzerland, New York and Ontario, Canada.  The idea was to find the “secret” clone or clones that would, like our experience with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, revive and surpass anything Oregon had done for Riesling. 

Interestingly, it turned out that one of the most preferred clones of Riesling was the one already being used.  All we had to do was take the Giesenheim 110 clone and plant it using the same expensive technique we use for our best Pinot Noir blocks.  

Today Argyle farms 5 acres of upright canopy de-vigorating rootstocked Riesling at our warmer, lower elevation Lone Star Vineyard. 

Part of the challenge with Riesling is that it is fairly complicated.  There are more than 15 styles of Riesling—and it is all called “Riesling”.  We are committed to the varietal and to the ongoing consumer education to help people understand it.   

Today, Argyle makes 3 styles of Riesling

  • Spirithouse Riesling —  Barrel fermented, less about the fruit, more textural based, balancing high acid with texture. 
  • Nuthouse Riesling —  Majority tank fermented, fruit purity, balancing high acid with fresh fruit, and a little sugar. Hint of barrel fermentation for richness. 
  • Minus Five —  Same balancing angles as Riesling (sugar and fresh fruit), but to the extreme.  Fruit is harvested and flash frozen to “minus 5” degrees, then painstakingly pressed.