At Illahe Vineyards, 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 the wines are made entirely by hand, with no electricity or modern mechanization. They use a gentle wooden basket press and age the Pinot Noir in French and Oregon oak.
Quality wine starts with quality fruits in the vineyard. Their 80 acre, south-facing vineyard lives in shallow clay soils with no irrigation for 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.
The vineyard now has a total of almost 60 acres, planted with seven varieties, Pinot Noir dominates, accounting for 50 of those acres. They also use estate fruit from their family vineyard, Glenn Creek, located near West Salem.
Illahe Vineyards is one of the nine vineyards situated in the Mount Pisgah area. In this prime grape-growing region, the majority of our vineyard lies on marine sediments atop ancient siletz rock.
Illahe is a warm site that experiences slightly earlier bud break and flowering than many vineyards in the Willamette Valley. The southerly aspect of the vineyard and the moderate elevation mean that grapes will achieve maturity even in cooler vintages. Moreover, the vineyard has excellent drainage and because of the Van Duzer wines, the vineyard cools in the evening, pacing the maturation of the grapes.
The soils at Illahe give the wine complexity. Their overall characteristic is Willakenzie-type sedimentary clay, specifically Bellpine, Wellsdale, Dupee, with patches of volcanic Jory.
Illahe is a LIVE-certified, Salmon Safe vineyard. They use cover crops throughout the vineyard to benefit the soil for biodiversity. As part of Oregon’s Deep Roots Coalition, which promotes responsible water management, they do not irrigate mature plants. They do extensive green pruning and conduct plant topping. All pruning and harvesting is done by hand. Sulfur spray is only used to control for powdery mildew and botrytis.
They aim for balance and optimal ripeness. This includes lead pulling to decrease shade and dropping green clusters after the grapes ripen. One of their goals at Illahe is to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. They have installed solar panels on the winery and use their two horses, Doc and Bea to mow and transport the grapes to the winery.
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