Illahe is a Chinook jargon word meaning “earth,” “land,” or “soil.” This reflects both the location in Oregon as well as Illahe’s desire to craft wines which express the variety of soils on our beautiful 80 acre estate. Illahe vineyards was established in 2000 by Lowell Ford, grower of Oregon grapes since 1983.
Illahe’s goal is to make wine as naturally as possible from the soil to the bottle. This requires working by hand on small lots with age-old techniques and materials. Their focus is to make and grow quality Pinot Noir and white wines that express the vintage and their varietal characteristics. They don't use enzymes or additives, and they don't fine or filter their Pinot Noir. Some of their wines are made entirely by hand with no electricity or mechanization. They use a gentle wooden basket press, and age the Pinot Noir in French and Oregon oak.
Of course, quality wine starts with quality fruit in the vineyard. Illahe’s 80-acre, south-facing vineyard lives in shallow clay soils and they do not irrigate mature plants. As one of Oregon’s few horse-powered vineyards, they utilise a team of Percheron drafts to mow and deliver grapes to the winery at harvest.