Illahe Vineyards

Sasha McCauley Virtual Wine Tastings

ILLAHE, pronounced Ill-Uh-Hee, is a local Chinook word meaning “earth” or “place” or “soil”

Join us on Wednesday, July 22 at 6 pm for the first in our new Winery Series. We’ll be joining Bethany Ford at Illahe Vineyards for A Winery Tasting & Behind the Scenes Visit. Virtually

Illahe Vineyard Winery

Where – Dallas, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA.  80 acres site, 60 acres planted, with 50 acres of Pinot Noir on a south-facing slope with marine sedimentary soils on ancient volcanic bedrock.

Bethany and Brad Ford

The People – Illahe is a family winery: Lowell and Pauline Ford are the growers (they started the winery in the early 80’s); their son Brad Ford is the winemaker; and their daughter-in-law, Bethany Ford manages their sales, marketing, and wine club. The next generation, Brad and Bethany’s kids are growing up in the vineyards and winery.

The Goal – To grow and make quality Pinot Noir and White Wines that express the vintage and their varietal characteristics.  Quality over quantity, balance, and ripeness.

Varieties planted:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Pinot Gris
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Tempranillo
  • Viognier
  • Lagrein, Schioppettino, and Teroldego – cool & interesting varieties from Northern Italy.

Illahe’s Vineyard Crush

Cool stuff they do –

With sustainable farming methods in the vineyard and low intervention winery practices, Illahe is making hand-crafted wines using old-fashioned techniques.

Sustainability –

Cover crops, a mix of native grasses and flowers, are planted in the vineyard to benefit the soil and biodiversity and to return to the native biodiversity of plants that were on the land before the winery.  The only parts of the vineyard that are tilled are those showing stress, otherwise no tilling is done.  Illahe is a member of Oregon’s Deep Roots Coalition that promotes responsible water management by farming without irrigation. Pruning and picking is done by hand. Illahe is LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified, and ‘Salmon-Safe’.

Orange Poppies in the Vineyard

Four and a half years ago Illahe entered into a program with the Natural Resources and Conservation Service to establish insectariums between the grape plants. “Every other row was planted with a special wildflower seed mix in the expectation of creating areas insects would be attracted to.”  ~ Lowell Ford

Brad Ford at Work in the Winery

Winery –

Minimal intervention and historical winemaking techniques characterize the winemaking.  Fermentation is done in small lots in either wood or concrete fermenters, with native yeasts for Pinot Noir fermentation. Grapes are gently pressed with a wooden basket press. No enzymes or additives are used. Aging is in French & Oregon oak.

Pedal Power: Bethany Ford Pedaling to Power the Pump

Really Cool Stuff they do –                             

Illahe is committed to reducing their reliance on fossil fuels: there are solar panels on the winery; and they utilize horse-power with their team of Percheron draft horses, Doc and Bea, to mow and to deliver grapes to the winery at harvest.  Illahe’s 1899 Pinot Noir is made entirely with historical techniques: the horses bring the grapes to the winery; the grapes are then pressed using an iron channel bar, chains, and come-alongs; and Brad constructed a bike-powered pump to settle the juice and transfer it to barrels.

Illahe’s Horses, Doc and Bea