Monday, December 14, 2009

When it rains, I blog

We are a small winery in a small town in the Willamette Valley of Oregon...Dallas. The usual reaction I get in Portland when I say we are located in Dallas is "Texas?" No, we are the "other Dallas." If it weren't for the rain and cold weather it might feel like we were in Texas. Our vineyard sits right next to an awesome grass-fed cattle ranch. Sometimes on my way to work I have to wait 15 minutes on the road to let the cows pass.

I love it here. I get to work in a barn! We just got high-speed way of some microwave receiver signal (I didn't even know that technology existed). I get to work with an incredible farmer, and two very talented young winemakers. Lowell, started planting grapes in 1983. He was crazy enough to plant Gruner Veltliner along with some other obscure varietals.

Now, we have 50 acres of vines on top of a south facing slope in Dallas, Oregon, along with 4 acres in West Salem. We have 35 acres planted of Pinot Noir. The rest is a mix of Pinot Gris, Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, Tempranillo and Lagrein (of all crazy things). Brad is one of our winemakers...he will be blogging quite a bit, as he used to be a writer. No really, he was published! Brad's bio is crazy. He has been everywhere, a bartender in Tokyo, a traveler in South America and India, a carpenter, a poetry instructor, a grant writer, and now a winemaker. Brad is Lowell's son. He studied wine making at Chemeketa and Chemistry at Portland State. He gained experience at Domaine Serene and Evesham Wood. Michael is also our winemaker. The two met while working together at Domaine Serene. Michael has also worked with Belle Ponte, his own brand, Genius Loci, and in Italy. Brad couldn't resist asking Michael make wine with him because of Michael's exceptional winemaking skills. He is focused, very attentive, and has a great palate. Brad and Michael are great to talk with about the wine, because they both know what's going on, but they have differing opinions...which keeps things interesting.

We are concerned with quality. We are concerned with price. We want to make beautiful wine that our neighbors can afford and enjoy. We want to make wine in a sustainable way. We harvest rainwater, we use solar panels, and we use horses to work our vineyards. Our wine making process is as natural as possible. We want to express the true characteristics of the fruit and the soil. Our viticulture is always top notch. Brad is out in the rain right now pruning. He is always experimenting with a new way to gain more balance with the fruit in the vineyard. Illahe is Chinook for "earth" and "soil." I think our wines hold true to their name.

We are starting this blog, to begin a conversation. We want people to be a part of the intimate process we are so lucky to be a part of here. We want to talk about viticulture, wine making, and maybe what we cooked for dinner last night and how well it pairs with our Pinot. We want to share how we think the romance of using horses in the vineyard is well worth the time and effort. We want to share with you Brad's crazy ideas of historical wine making, like digging a cave in the hillside, but with no electricity, and making Pinot Gris in clay pots underground. We want to explore these ideas. Maybe we will figure a few things out.
thanks for reading, Bethany

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