Illahe Vineyards. A family winery.
It all started with Lowell planting grapes back in 1983. We enjoy working together to make sustainable, handcrafted wines from our Estate vineyard. We are farmers at heart, and we enjoy being close to nature through our grapes, watching every season change the landscape around us, and every vintage change the wines in the bottle.
LOWELL & PAULINE FORD
OWNERS AND GROWERS
Lowell began his career as a winegrower on his father-in-law’s farm with a planting of an acre of müller-thurgau in 1983. He sold his first vintages in the 1980s to Knudsen-Erath, Eyrie, and Chateau Benoit. His early experiments in viticulture were made with the help of friend Earl VanVolkinburg of Vitae Springs Vineyard in South Salem. In 1995 he tripled his acreage by planting ehrenfeltzer, grüner veltliner, pinot noir, and pinot gris at the Glenn Creek Vineyard in West Salem.
In the 1990s, Lowell spearheaded the development of the Northwest Viticulture Center at Chemeketa where he worked as the Dean of Students. Lowell is still on the board of directors at the Viticulture Center and a lifetime donor.
In 1999, Lowell bought the 80-acre Illahe Vineyard, which was a pasture at the time. Though its main production is pinot noir, his love of white wine and experimentation ensured that its future will always include a broad view of world wine grape production and not simply copy a Burgundian domaine.
Lowell is Illahe’s vineyard manager and top salesperson, as well as person-in-charge of vineyard layout, grafting, planting , and the occasional excavation project.
Brad's first harvest was in 1986, when he worked in the important roles of tractor driver and bucket collector. He took a short break after high school to work as a bartender, carpenter, grant writer, and English instructor. He then returned to wine, taking classes with Barney Watson, Al MacDonald, and Professor Wamser at Chemeketa and PSU.
Brad worked with Earl VanVolkinburg, Joe Dobbes, and Russ Raney, who taught him the practical aspects of the craft and about their love of the produc t. He also owes a debt to Peter Julian of Nuit-St. Georges, Burgundy, who invited him to attend tastings from Chablis down to Mercurey, hitting all the major towns in between. His experiences there taught him that winemakers can craft incredible wine without huge operations, but not without close attention to the vineyard and vinification.
In 2009 Brad decided to hire Bethany as Illahe's National Sales Manager, which turned out to be a good personal decision as well as a good business decision because in 2010 he married her!
NATIONAL SALES MANAGER
Bethany, (Brad's better half) found herself falling in love with Pinot Noir in the Santa Ynez Valley while she was achieving her degree in art at Biola University in Los Angeles. Inspired by the craft and process of making wine and having always wanted to live in the Northwest, she moved to Oregon in 2005.
Bethany gained experience in sales at Whole Foods Market and then moved on to a full time wine career at Domaine Serene Winery, Argyle, and Methven Family Vineyards, before coming to Illahe. 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 and trying to learn some science.
Gabriel discovered wine in 2005, while working the night shift at a Trader Joe's in San Francisco. Every night after work, he and his friends would grab a cheap bottle of wine, some bread and cheese, and ride bikes to a new adventure. This way, he learned to appreciate not just the taste of wine, but also the experience of it. He carried this lesson through jobs at wine shops, teaching wine classes, as a Wine Buyer at Whole Foods Market, and as an Assistant Editor for Wine & Spirits Magazine.
In 2008, he worked his first harvest at Cana's Feast Winery, where he learned the craft of winemaking from Patrick Taylor. In subsequent years, he worked at Owen Roe Winery and Grochau Cellars, before arriving at Illahe Vineyards in 2011. He spends most of his time in the cellar, but can also be found behind the tasting room bar, or pruning vines in the vineyard.
If it weren't for Leanna, Illahe wouldn't be here. She is at the winery hand labeling bottles almost every week. She delivers wine, she bottles, she sorts fruit, and she brings us coffee! Leanna is a retired teacher, who has changed the lives of several generations of children in Lincoln City. We are very blessed to have her.
DOC & BEA
Doc and Bea are responsible for delivering our fruit from the vineyard to our crushpad during harvest, and in the springtime we use them with a special horse mower to mow our covercrop between the rows of grapes. During events, they also enjoy giving people wagon rides through the vineyard.
LOGAN & POWPOW
It's not an Oregon winery without a few dogs. Pow Pow enjoys working out in the vineyard with our vineyard crew, while Logan likes to hang around the office waiting for treats or a good pat. They both stay in shape by racing the cars up the driveway.