The Great Scotland-Oregon connection part 1.


A typical street sign with the “Argylle-Bute” marker on top.

Imagine this for a moment:

You’re a U.S. citizen traveling in Scotland. While enjoying the sights and local culture, you decide to try some of their whiskey. It is, after all, the beverage they’re best known for. You go into a shop where many fine single-malts are for sale, and come across one that’s called “Columbia River Gorge”. Hmmm… What’s more, although the whiskey comes from the Isle of Jura—absolutely, bonny whiskey country– it’s distilled in a small village there called “Canon Beach”. Well, I’ll be darned.

Unfortunately, this is a fictional scenario (that would have been cool…), and I dreamed it up in order to prepare you for my latest “investigation” on the island. In truth, it’s really not much of an investigation or even a mystery. But ever since I’ve arrived here on Bute, the term “Argyle” or “Argylle” (Argyle is an archaic spelling of Argyll) has been everywhere. On ships, sign-posts, library cards, and so on. It seems like one in every five streets bears the name Argyle. Now at this point you’re probably thinking, “Well, Jared, you are in Scotland, you wank…”, and you’d be right to roll your eyes. The real reason I’ve decided to focus so much on this, however, is because the “Argyle” that many of you Oregonians and myself know is, of course, the winery. If you finished that last sentence with “socks”, stop now, go directly to jail, do not pass GO, and do not collect $200.


We all know the great wines from Rollin Solles over at Argyle winery in Dundee (more on this name later), Oregon. The pinot noirs are always very good, and the sparkling wine- especially some of the older vintages- are probably some of the best in the U.S. Being here now, I began to imagine what the accidental Scottish tourist in Oregon wine country would be thinking:

“Well. It’s a wee bit… dry here. Awfully pretty, though. They could use a spot of rain to liven things up a bit. Eh- what’s this? ‘Argyle’ wine? Ye’ don’t say… And it’s made in– oh this is just lovely– ‘Dundee’, Oregon!”

And hence the opening dream-sequence. In actuality, most Europeans aren’t likely to even bat an eye when they see their home-town names on American city and town markers or pasted onto product brands; most of our heritage is, after all, European, with a great deal of it coming from the United Kingdom. So just what does “Argyle” mean? I’ve found out a thing or two, but before I bore you all with those juicy morsels of (Zzzzzzzz…) research, let’s clear up the Dundee connection between Oregon and Scotland.

Dundee, as you all know, is a town within Oregon’s Willamette Valley, known for it’s vineyards, wineries, and super-duper convenient highway 99. It is also and originally a town on the east coast of Scotland, dates back to around the 11th century, and likely derives some of it’s name from the Gaelic words “Dun Diagh” (Dun meant fort). So what’s up with the Oregon town? Apparently- and according to my new best friend, Wiki Pedia, “Dundee is named in honor of the birthplace of William Reid– Dundee, Scotland. Reid came to Oregon in 1874 to establish the Oregonian Railroad Company, and made several extensions to the railroad in the western Willamette Valley.” O.K., cool. So Dundee, OR is named after the hometown of ole’ Willie Reid from Scotland. And wasn’t there a famous basketball player on the New York Knicks by that name?

willis-reed-limpThis guy’s Scottish??

Well, never mind…

I think this is probably a good time to stop and let you digest all of this so far. Either that or wake up. In any case, it’s getting late, the dram is calling me, and I’ll continue to discuss the Oregon-Scotland connection (lucky you!!) next time.

Cue class bell.




~ by Jared on May 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “The Great Scotland-Oregon connection part 1.”

  1. Already the Stories you’ll return with. The blog is good but nothing like face time.


  2. Aye. Get the wine glasses ready…

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