Illahe Vineyards. A family winery.
It all started with Lowell Ford planting grapes back in 1983. We enjoy working together to make sustainable, handcrafted wines from our estate vineyard. We are farmers at heart, and we enjoy being close to nature through our grapes, watching every season change the landscape around us, and every vintage change the wines in the bottle.
Brad's job at Illahe is to make delicious wine with unique character. He hopes that by working with his grapes year after year, he will find the little things that make each one hand-crafted instead of factory-made. Most often, he reaches back to wine's history to grab hints about how to improve. Examples of this include working with his horses - Doc and Bea; trying ferments in oak, acacia, and clay; and spending hours on the bike pump moving the 1899.
After receiving a degree in classics, Brad was a carpenter, grant writer, and English instructor. In 2004 he followed his dad into the vineyard and did his first harvest. Since then he has worked for Russ Raney and with Michael Lundeen and Gabriel Jagle sniffing and sipping.
LOWELL & PAULINE FORD
OWNERS AND GROWERS
Lowell and Pauline have a long history of stewardship and grape growing. Lowell’s great-grandparents immigrated from Russia via Canada and grew wine grapes on their farm near Dallas, Oregon in the 1890s. Pauline’s father finished his family’s westward migration and bought a farm in Salem in 1943, and she has lived on that farm her entire life.
Lowell began his career as a winegrower on that very farm - planting of an acre of müller-thurgau in 1983. His early experiments in viticulture were made with the help of friend Earl VanVolkinburg of Vitae Springs Vineyard in South Salem. He won ribbons at the county fair and state fair for his wines, including a best of show.
In the 1990s, Lowell spearheaded the development of the Northwest Wine Studies Center at Chemeketa where he is a lifetime donor. Pauline isn't actively involved in the vineyard or winery, but she makes a famous salmon cheesecake that we invite you to indulge in at our holiday tastings!
NATIONAL SALES MANAGER
Bethany fell in love with pinot noir in the Santa Ynez Valley while she was earning BFA in art in Los Angeles.
Inspired by the craft and process of making wine and having always wanted to live in the Northwest, she moved to Oregon in 2005. Bethany joined the team at Illahe Vineyards in 2009 after gaining experience with some of Oregon's top wineries. Her sales experience drove Illahe's success in transitioning from a winery with a small distribution radius to achieving recognition in 35 markets internationally.
At harvest you can find her in her work boots where she does lab work, punch downs, and fruit sorting. On top of this she often cooks lunch for the entire crew. Bethany has a WSET Level 2 Award for Wine and Spirits.
She is also the mom of two adorable little ones, Beckett and Miette, and is Brad’s wife.
While working as a whitewater raft guide and ski bum out in Colorado, Nathan began to think about a future in wine. So, he hopped on his bicycle and rode back home to Oregon to enroll in the Northwest Wine Studies Center at Chemeketa. Since then, he has learned the trade and continued to be enamored with winemaking by working at various Willamette Valley producers including A to Z, Panther Creek and Cherry Hill. A desire to explore working with big reds took him out to the Columbia Gorge, where for two years he cut his teeth on fruit from across Washington at Maryhill Winery. But, he knew coming back to Oregon and making Pinot was always in his future. He has been thrilled to have the chance to work with the Fords at Illahe, crafting fun, exciting and always delicious wines.
DIRECT SALES MANAGER
Louisa has been with Illahe for almost four years now. She has received her bachelors degree at Oregon State and continues to study Wine Marketing. Louisa has a keen aptitude for tasting and sensory evaluation and is our chief tasting room associate and direct sales manager. Email Louisa for all of your touring and tasting inquiries!
If it weren't for Leanna, Illahe wouldn't be here. She spends time at the winery at almost every event, helping at the door. She has delivered wine, corked, labeled, bottled, sorted fruit, and she has brought us many cups of coffee!
Leanna is a retired teacher, who has changed the lives of several generations of children in Lincoln City. We are very blessed to have her.
DOC & BEA
Doc and Bea are responsible for delivering our fruit from the vineyard to our crushpad during harvest, and in the springtime we use them with a special horse mower to mow our covercrop between the rows of grapes. During events, they also enjoy giving people wagon rides through the vineyard.
LOGAN & POWPOW
It's not an Oregon winery without a few dogs. Pow Pow enjoys working out in the vineyard with our vineyard crew, while Logan likes to hang around the office waiting for treats or a good pat. They both stay in shape by racing the cars up the driveway.