Illahe Vineyard is an 80-acre, south-facing hill slope that was purchased in 2000 and first planted in 2001 with 22 acres of pinot noir. Today the vineyard has seven varieties and 50 acres of pinot noir with 60 acres planted. Illahe Vineyards also uses estate fruit from the Glenn Creek Vineyard in West Salem.
Illahe Vineyards is one nine vineyards situated in the Mount Pisgah area. In this prime grape-growing region, 92.1% of the soil is comprised of silty clay loam - unique to this area only.
Varieties and Clones
Pinot noir: We have six clones of pinot in our various blocks: Dijon clones 777 and 115, 1943, Pommard, Swan, and Wädenswil 2A. These clones are the best match for our site and each carries a special aromatic tendency and composition that we want in our blends. All of our vines are grafted to either 101-14 or 3309 rootstocks, which devigorate the scion. We are assembling a selection massale in a triangle below the winery.
Pinot gris: We have acres of three different clones of pinot gris (VCR, 152, and 146) at Illahe. We have one acre of gris at the Glenn Creek vineyard.
Grüner veltliner: This Austrian grape takes up an acre and a half at Illahe (On of Oregon's largest plantings!). We got this clone from a Hungarian fighter pilot who defected to the West and brought his love of grüner to America.
Tempranillo: Our acre of tempranillo goes into a whole-cluster pressed rosé that we ferment in neutral oak.
Viognier: Our viognier comes from the Glenn Creek Vineyard in West Salem and Goschie Farms in Silverton. Gayle's spectacular fruit enables us to craft a thoroughly enjoyable, action-packed wine.
Lagrein, Schioppettino and Teroldego: Northern Italian varietals that make up six rows of our vineyard. We will be harvesting in 2017 and will be fermenting these varietals in clay in the future.
Illahe Vineyard is planted on a south-facing slope. The slope ranges from about 4% near the bottom to over 20% near the top. The top of the vineyard is at 440 feet elevation, and the bottom 250.
Illahe is a warm site that experiences slightly earlier budbreak and flowering than many other vineyards in the Willamette Valley. The grapes achieve maturity even in cooler vintages. Two reasons for this are the southerly aspect of the vineyard and the moderate elevation. The vineyard has excellent drainage during cold snaps, and it’s just to the south of the Van Duzer winds which begin in the late summer that cool other vineyards in the evening, slowing maturity.
The soil layers at Illahe give the wine complexity. We have shallow top soil down to about 18'' in the Percheron blocks. The overall character of the soil is that of Willakenzie-type sedimentary clay. The specific types include bellpine, wellsdale, dupee, and patches of jory. These types depend on soil depth and composition, which is mostly clay, silt, and loam.
Illahe is a LIVE-certified, Salmon Safe vineyard. We use cover crops on the entire vineyard. We are part of Oregon's Deep Roots Coalition, and as such do not irrigate mature plants. We do extensive green pruning and conduct plant topping. We prune by hand and harvest by hand. We use sulfur spray to control for powdery mildew and botrytis.
We aim for balanced production and optimal ripeness. This includes a program of no irrigation, leaf pulling to decrease shade, and dropping green clusters after veraison. One of our goals at Illahe is to reduce the use of fossil fuels throughout the year. We have solar panels and we use our horses, Doc and Bea, to mow and to bring grapes to the winery at harvest.