August 2017 


1899 Expedition and Celebration at Thelonious Wines

Illahe Vineyards, a sustainable Willamette Valley winery in Dallas, OR, will embark upon a three-day canoe journey to bring their 1899 Pinot Noir 96 miles downriver to Portland. The canoe adventure, undertaken by winemaker Brad Ford and his winemaking team, is the culmination of Illahe’s historical winemaking efforts for the 1899 Pinot Noir, a wine made without fossil fuels or electricity. Now in its fifth vintage, the making of Illahe’s 1899 Pinot Noir includes harvesting grapes by hand, transporting grapes to the winery by Illahe's two draft horses (pictured below) the use of a hand-cranked destemmer and a wooden basket press, as well as a bicyclepowered pump, a tool Ford engineered. The wine is fermented naturally and spends 18 months in barrel; it is then hand-bottled and hand-labeled. What began as a winemaking challenge—making wine without any electricity or modern equipment—became a valuable annual learning experience for Ford. "The 1899 journey is a reflection of the historical techniques we use at the winery,” says winemaker Brad Ford. “A major chapter in the history of wine has been its distribution, whether in amphoras on ships, barrels on the Douro river, or by horse-drawn cart through the gates of Paris. We hope to infuse the spirit of this history into our 1899 Pinot Noir."

This year’s canoe journey will start on Sunday, August 27, with a mule-drawn stagecoach transporting the 1899 Pinot Noir six miles from the winery in Dallas to Independence, OR. There, on the banks of the Willamette River, the winemaking team will divide the wine into three wooden canoes and paddle 26 miles to their first camp on Grand Island. On Day 2, the team will navigate 27 miles of the Willamette River to camp at Champoeg State Park. On Tuesday, the winemaking team will paddle 24 miles to Willamette Falls in Oregon City, where the wine will be unloaded onto cargo bikes. The 1899 will then be transported by pedal power over the remaining 13 miles to downtown Portland, arriving on Tuesday afternoon. A map detailing the trip can be found below.

To celebrate the arrival of the 1899 Pinot Noir, Illahe Vineyards will host a tasting reception at Thelonious Wines in Portland’s Pearl District on Tuesday August 29, 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 GrĂ¼ner 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.


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