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Illahe Vineyards and Winery Gruner Veltliner 2015
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.
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a Mediterranean climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and winter.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. Silty, loess soils are found in the Chehalem Mountains.
Fun to say and delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner is indigenous to Austria, where it has long maintained its status as the nation’s most important and most planted white grape.
In the Glass
Crisp and refreshing with plenty of lively acidity, Grüner Veltliner is marked by telltale notes of white pepper, citrus, peach, herbs and a bright minerality. While most are fresh and ready to drink early, there are a few styles to be found. Many high caliber single vineyard bottlings can benefit from cellar aging but the straightforward and easily quaffable Grüners often come in one liter size bottles—a convenient size!
Grüner Veltliner is a wonderfully versatile wine. It can pair with just about any lighter fare, from seafood to poultry, or even notoriously difficult vegetables like asparagus and artichokes. Traditional Austrian Weiner Schnitzel is also a perfect match to the acidity and spice in Grüner Veltliner.
About 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner comes from Austria but the variety is gaining ground in other countries, namely Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.