Illahe 1899 Pinot Noir

No electricity or machinery used

The Illahe 1899 Pinot Noir began as a winemaking challenge during harvest 2011, and has become the culmination of our historical winemaking efforts. The question at the time was, could we make a wine using no electricity or modern winemaking equipment, using only what was available to winemakers in 1899 or prior? And if we were able to do this, would it effect the wine?

Now in its fifth vintage, the making of the Illahe 1899 Pinot Noir includes harvesting grapes by hand, transporting grapes to the winery by our two draft horses, the use of a hand-cranked destemmer and a wooden basket press (pressed using pullies), as well as a bicycle powered pump. The wine is fermented naturally and spends 22 months in barrel; it is then hand-bottled, hand-corked with no nitrogen, and hand-labeled.

The 1899 Expedition was an expansion of the project. We worked so hard to make this wine, and it was sad to see a truck come to pick it up to bring it to Portland. Brad, being the crazy, creative, leader of this project decided to try to get the wine to Portland, to our distributor, Casa Bruno, without using a truck.  The wine is brought by mule-drawn stagecoach from the winery to Independence Oregon, then canoed 96 river miles, and finally cargo biked to Portland.  

This year’s canoe journey will start on Sunday, August 27th, and they will arrive in Portland Tuesday, August 29th.

 We will be hosting a 1899 celebration at Thelonious Wines in Portland’s Pearl District on Tuesday August 29th, from 6 pm to 8 pm. Several vintages of the 1899 Pinot Noir will be on-hand, in addition to other estate-grown bottlings, such as Illahe’s Grüner Veltliner, Viognier, Pinot Gris, and others. Made in extremely limited quantities (150 cases), the 2015 1899 Pinot Noir will be available in the weeks following the canoe journey.