Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Soil Spectator, July 2009

"All the dirt that's fit to print"


Illahe officially turns one on Saturday, August 8th. Though 40 acres of our vineyard is pinot noir, we also grow one and a half acres of grüner veltliner, the Austrian varietal wunderkind. For our birthday celebration, Lowell has worked day and night on his oyster barbeque recipe to make the perfect match with chilled grüner. Will it be Oregon’s answer to oysters and Chablis? Perhaps. The oysters come from Yaquina Bay, and we’ll also have sourdough loaves from the Bread Board of Falls City and a spicy coleslaw.

And what would a birthday be without presents? We’re giving away a free bottle of grüner to cellar club members worth $13—even if you sign up when you come. Sure, we’ll take presents (you can bring a carrot for Doc or Bea), but for those of you who want to be a close part of Illahe’s diverse group of natural wines, the cellar club is the way to go. We offer two shipments a year of six bottles, discounts, free tastings with friends, and future events.

Of course, we’ll have pinot noir to taste, including the 2007 Illahe pinot noir reserve, and our delicate 2008 pinot gris. We’ll be open 11-5, and we’re offering the tasting and the birthday meal for $25.


Our percheron draft horses Doc and Bea came to Illahe’s West Salem stables for the first time on June 30th. They are happily eating down the grass in their corral and we’re working on bucking the hay in the field in front of the winery for their winter delectation. At the beginning of August, Don Flammang will be out helping us walk up and down the rows to teach our hay-burners the lay of the vineyard. We will be mowing, hauling, and logging our new western block in no time. It’s the perfect way to farm because we’ll be saving diesel, reducing compaction in the rows, and making friends at the same time. Look for the horse-powered label!


The news from the experts keeps getting better. We haven’t pulled in a 90 just yet, but it seems to be only a matter of time. Portland’s Liner & Elsen just featured our pinot gris in their May newsletter, saying that it has “breathtaking precision and purity for its modest tariff.” They mention its “soil-driven aromas of lemon, minerals and honeydew.” That’s exactly what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Our gris will be featured at an Aqua winemaker’s dinner in September designed by chef Adam Kekahauna. Brad will be serving the 2008 Illahe pinot gris, the 2008 Illahe viognier, the 2008 Illahe riesling, and the two 2007 Illahe pinot noirs, the estate and reserve. Check Aqua’s website or our own for the exact date and time.

Speaking of the 2008 viognier, there are only seven cases left! Come get one at the tasting room, open Friday and Saturday 11-5 throughout the rest of the summer. If you can’t make it to the tasting room, you can enjoy Illahe at Thistle in McMinnville, Press Wine Bar in Newberg, and The Pelican Brew Pub in Pacific City as well as many other locations in our great state and across the country.

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