At Illahe, our 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.
Our focus is to make and grow quality pinot noir and white wines that express the vintage and their varietal characteristics. We don't use enzymes or additives, and we don't fine or filter our pinot noir. Some of our lots are made entirely by hand with no electricity or mechanization. We use a gentle wooden basket press, and age our pinot noir in French and Oregon oak.
Of course, quality wine starts with quality fruit in the vineyard. Our 80-acre, south-facing vineyard lives in shallow clay soils. Like our friends in the Deep Roots Coalition, we do not irrigate mature plants. As one of Oregon’s few horse-powered vineyards, we utilize a team of Percheron drafts to mow and deliver grapes to the winery at harvest.
Some Highlights from the November 2013 Issue of the Wine Advocate by David Schildknecht
"Brad and Bethany Ford practically blew me away this year. Some of the most fascinating wines, including a couple of the finest value whites, to reach me from the Willamette Valley. If theirs are not yet among this region's elite Pinot Noirs, they are definitely imaginatively vinified and highly distinctive."
90 Points- Illahe Estate Gruner Veltliner, 2012
"Illahe's 2012 Gruner Veltliner is one of the three most delightful, distinctively delicious not to mention promising wine I've tasted from this grape variety anywhere outside Austria... What's more, you won't find any more terrific value from this variety in Austria, either."
91 Points- Illahe Estate Pinot Gris, 2012
"If their Gruner Veltliner represented an amazing performance to say nothing of terrific value, then Illahe's 2012 Pinot Gris has to count as a flabbergasting value, and one whose sensational quality-price rapport is also connected with vinificatory inventiveness..."
90 Points - Illahe Project 1899 Pinot Noir, 2011
"Illahe's 2011 Pinot Noir 1899 represents an exercise in imaginary time-travel and methode ancienne such as are becoming fashionable among old world growers...The farming here was done by horse and the vinification undertaken without the use of any stainless steel or electricity, so that among other things the wine had to be (half) destemmed by hand; pressed with strap- rather than hydraulic action; racked through the bottom bung of its (three) barrels; and bottled (at 20 months) by hand. Was it all worth it? The wine is distinctively delicious and its price, I think, commensurate with the effort entailed and the intrigue generated. Having gotten more than the usual contact with air, it already evinces some oxidative complexities; and an especially fascinating question - to which nobody can have a well-founded answer yet - is how this will evolve in bottle. Dried cherry, licorice, leather and sweat in the nose are joined by bitter dark chocolate, prune, and sage oil on a finely if abundantly tannic palate. There is a sappy persistence here with hints of forest floor adding intrigue and salinity saliva inducement. Look for fascination through at least 2018, I'd guess."