Where do we even start with Illahe? Pauline and Lowell Ford began Illahe in 2001. Lowell has been growing grapes for almost 30 years and continues to manage the vineyards while son, Brad has taken the role of wine-maker. Bethany came to Oregon in 2005 and worked with Domaine Serene Winery, Argyle, and Methven Family Vineyards. As Illahe’s National Sales Mananger you might see her running around Portland selling wine, in her office snuggling with her new baby boy Beckett, or in the winery punching down fermenters.. If she has her way there will be sparkling Gruner Veltliner for us all to enjoy.
Illahe’s goal is to make wine as naturally as possible from the soil to the bottle working by hand on small lots with age-old techniques and materials. The winery is solar-powered. They do not over-extract and avoid the use of unnecessary chemical or biological additions, fining, filters, or machinery. They use a gentle wooden basket press, age their pinot noir in French and Oregon oak, and use pigeage whenever possible. There is no irrigation of mature vines and as one of Oregon’s few horse-powered vineyards, they utilize a team of Percheron drafts to mow and deliver grapes to the winery at harvest.
Truly an old soul, Brad is, in some regards, going backwards to take the winery forwards. He has created project 1899 whereby he is converting part of the winery to work with only materials that were available 1899. That means no internal combustion, no electricity, and no stainless steel. Even the barrels used have to be different because the type of metal used in the hoops has changed since then. They’ve even commissioned the creation of a kiln at the winery so they can create their own anfora fermentation vessels.