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Region: North America - Oregon
Terroir: Willamette Valley
Lowell and Pauline Ford of Illahe Vineyards (pronounced 'ill-a-hay', Chinook for land, earth or soil) bought 80 acres of pasture land in Oregon's Willamette Valley in 1999 and turned 22 acres of this over to Pinot Noir vines in 2001. Acreage is still being turned over to vines, but the mix now includes Riesling, Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, Tempranillo and Viognier which allows a more diverse portfolio than this Pinot Noir-dominated territory usually affords.
Illahe's vines are planted on a south-facing slope over a variety of soils which give the wine unexpected complexities. In common with many Oregon winemakers, the Fords are extremely conscious of their environment and have planted cover crops over the entire vineyard and do not irrigate mature plants. They prune and harvest by hand and use only sulphur spray as a control for powdery mildew and botrytis.
Combining new and old, Illahe has solar panels to generate power and uses Estate horses Doc and Bea for mowing and as harvest transport for the grapes. The Fords are farmers at heart and combine purposeful environmentalism and respect for their stunning territory.
Brad Ford's experience across the Oregon and Burgundian wine worlds thankfully made him determined to make brilliant wines without expanding the vineyard's acreage or operations significantly by paying very close attention to both the cultivation of the vines vineyard and the winemaking process. We're delighted that that remains his belief and Illahe's mission.