Illahe is owned and operated by three generations of the Ford family. Current winemaker Brad Ford's father Lowell learned to grow grapes in the 1980's, planting his first vineyard with three acres of Muller Thurgau on his father-in-law's farm. He added Gruner Veltliner, Pinot noir and Pinot gris to his experience with plantings in 1995.
In 1999, after a decade helping to found and develop the Chemeketa Northwest Viticulture Center, Lowell purchased eighty acres of farm land in the mid-Willamette Valley. Today 52 acres are planted, including 40 of Pinot noir.
Brad Ford, Lowell's son, is Illahe's winemaker, joining his father after working with Evesham Wood and Dobbes. A pivotal winetasting trip to Burgundy further inspired his winemaking style.
The new wineries that we enjoy year after year tend to be those with their own vineyards and a deep interest in its development. Illahe falls into that category. The vineyard's individuality grows with every vintage, and the owners are aware of the importance of managing it to allow the terroir's unique character to evolve and intensify.
"An excellent vineyard site and pinot noir, a fine facility, and a dedicated, kind, and talented team... this bodes well for Illahe's success." –Russ Raney, Evesham Wood founder