ILLAHE, pronounced Ill-Uh-Hee, is a local Chinook word meaning “earth” or “place” or “soil”
At Illahe, their goal is to make wine as naturally as possible from soil to bottle. They work by hand on small lots with age-old techniques and materials. Their focus is to grow and make quality Pinot Noir and white wines that express the vintage and their varietal characteristics. They don't use enzymes or additives. Some of their wines are made entirely by hand, with no electricity or modern mechanization. They use a gentle wooden basket press and age our Pinot Noir in French and Oregon oak.
Quality wine starts with quality fruit in the vineyard. Their 80-acre, south-facing vineyard lives in shallow clay soils. Like their friends in the Deep Roots Coalition, which is committed to dry agriculture and responsible water practices, they do not irrigate mature plants. As one of Oregon’s few horse-powered vineyards they utilize a team of Percheron draft horses to mow and deliver grapes to the winery at harvest.
Brad Ford's job at Illahe is to make delicious wines that have a unique character. He hopes that by working with his grapes year after year, he will discover the little things that ensure each one is a special, hand-crafted product. He reaches back into the history of wine for hints and ideas on how to improve. So far, this has included working with horses, trying ferments in oak, acacia, and clay, and spending hours on the pedal-powered pump moving the 1899 wine from the fermenter to barrels. Recently he built a kiln so he can make his own amphorae, earthenware pots used for fermenting and aging.