Illahe Vineyards and Winery Viognier 2017
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 continental climate moderated by the influence of the Pacific Ocean, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture and the production of elegant wines.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation vineyard sites.
The valley's three prominent soil types (volcanic, sedimentary and silty, loess) make it unique and create significant differences in wine styles among its 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. In the most southern stretch of the Willamette, the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA soils are mixed, shallow and well-drained. The Hills' close proximity to the Van Duzer Corridor (which became its own appellation as of 2019) also creates grapes with great concentration and firm acidity, leading to wines that perfectly express both power and grace.
Though Pinot noir enjoys the limelight here, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc and Chardonnay also thrive in the Willamette. Increasing curiosity has risen recently in the potential of others like Grüner Veltliner, Chenin blanc and Gamay.
Full-figured and charmingly floral, Viognier is one of the most important white grapes of the northern Rhône where it is used both to produce single varietal wines and as an important blending grape. Look for great New World examples from California, Oregon, Washington and cooler parts of Australia.