Introduction

Winemaking: The Continuation of Terroir by Other Means.®

Welcome to the Amalie Robert Estate Farming Blog, aka FLOG. By subscribing, you will receive regular FLOGGINGS throughout the growing season. The FLOGGING will begin with the Spring Cellar Report in April. FLOGGINGS will continue each month and detail how the vintage is shaping up. You may also be FLOGGED directly after the big Cluster Pluck with the yearly Harvest After Action Report. Subscribe now and let the FLOGGINGS begin!

Rusty

"This is one of the Willamette Valley’s most distinguished wineries, but not one that is widely known."

- Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile - September 2016

Josh

"Dena Drews and Ernie Pink have been quietly producing some of Oregon's most elegant and perfumed Pinots since the 2004 vintage. Their 30-acre vineyard outside the town of Dallas, abutting the famed Freedom Hill vineyard where Drews and Pink live, is painstakingly farmed and yields are kept low so production of these wines is limited. Winemaking includes abundant use of whole clusters, which is no doubt responsible for the wines' exotic bouquets and sneaky structure…"

- Josh Raynolds, Vinous - October 2015

David

"...Dallas growers Dena Drews and Ernie Pink... showed me this July three of their reserve bottlings and thereby altered my perception of their endeavors. Since these are produced in only one- or two-barrel quantities, they offer an extreme instance of a phenomenon encountered at numerous Willamette addresses, whose really exciting releases are extremely limited. But they also testify, importantly, to what is possible; and what’s possible from this site in these hands revealed itself to be extraordinary!... And what a Syrah!"

- David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate - October 2013

Wine & Spirits

"Finding that their whole-cluster tannins take some time to integrate, Pink and Drews hold their wines in barrel for up to 18 months - so Amalie Robert is just releasing its 2008s. And what a stellar group of wines: Bright and tart, they possess both transparency and substance, emphasizing notes of rosehips and sandalwood as much as red berries. The pinot noirs alone would likely have earned Amalie Robert a top 100 nod this year. But the winery also produces cool-climate syrah that rivals the best examples from the Sonoma Coast. And the 2009 Heirloom Cameo, their first attempt at a barrel-fermented chardonnay, turned out to be one of our favorite Oregon chardonnays of the year. Ten vintages in, Amalie Robert has hit its stride."

- Luke Sykora, Wine & Spirits Magazine – September 2011

Copyright

© 2005 – 2020 Amalie Robert Estate, LLC

Friday, July 31, 2020

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: July 2020 and Wadenswil Extravaganza Weekend!

Hello and Welcome,
 
This is an Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: July 2020 and Wadenswil Extravaganza Weekend! A FLOG communication from @AmalieRobert Dena and Ernie. Amalie Robert Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
 


Make the journey to see Dena and Ernie Saturday & Sunday, August 8 & 9 from 10 am to 3 pm by appointment. We are tasting Wadenswil Clone Pinot Noir! Join us outside with a commanding view of the vines and soaring red-tailed hawks under the protective cover of our swanky new shade canopy. We have hand sanitizer available and will be starting off with 2018 Pinot in Pink lip sanitizer that has a very high percentage of Wadenswil Clone. And while we are outside, masks are optional. You just never know who (or what) you might see.
 

When two worlds collide.


The red-tailed hawks have been screeching and racing through the afternoon skies. They have been surveying our handiwork in the vines and performing a vital vineyard task. They are helping to control the fur bearing rodent population. Here we see the “intended”. The California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi) in the erect posture. So, if we happen to not see any soaring red-tailed hawks this weekend, it could be because these two species have had their worlds collide. Wouldn’t that be something to see?
 
And Dena has rounded up twice the number of usual yellow jacket suspects. She loaded the traps (packed them full of salmon scraps) and let Nature take its course. Along with the care and feeding of our red-tailed hawks, this is another example of a biological control in the vineyard.
 
We got the hint, delivered somewhat delicately and in other cases not so much. Maybe it’s because Ernie is always on about sedimentary soils and Wadenswil Clone 2A. Maybe because there are few places in the Willamette Valley that can bring the best out of this Swiss clone of Pinot Noir. Maybe it’s because his socks are too tight.
 
Whatever the reason, this weekend is your opportunity to taste select vintages of Amalie Robert Estate Grown Wadenswil Clone Pinot Noir. These wines are typically 2 barrel selections each vintage that produce about 48 cases. With our Wadenswil Clone program we are very much trying to show you something that is “True to soil and true to the vintage”.
 
If you need to brush up on your Wadenswil, you can check out our feature page and read the “Interview with a Clone: Wadenswil 2A” right here. Accept no substitutes.
http://www.amalierobert.com/wadenswil-clone.html
 
Our Wadenswil Extravaganza tasting will be the following selections:
2018 Pinot in Pink Rosé
2011 Wadenswil Clone Pinot Noir
2012 Wadenswil Clone Pinot Noir
2013 Wadenswil Clone Pinot Noir
2016 Wadenswil Clone Pinot Noir
2015 Heirloom Cameo Chardonnay
 
The tasting fee is $15 with a new Riedel tasting glass and $10 is refundable on any two bottle purchase per person. You may also opt for a new Riedel Burgundy glass for $25 and $10 is refundable on any two bottle purchase per person. The now christened Amalie Robert Riedel glass is yours to keep. You may also opt to bring your own glasses and the glass purchase will be waived.
 
We also recognize it may not be possible to co-locate with us this weekend. Perhaps a phobia is responsible. Claustrophobia is the fear of confined spaces. Acute anxiety caused by flying is called aerophobia. Combine these two phobias with mysophobia, the pathological fear of contamination and germs and we have the trifecta that is disabling the air travel industry. Fortunately, wine can co-locate to you.
 
You can reach Dena by email at Cuvee@amalierobert.com and by phone at 503-88-CUVEE (503-882-8833) to schedule your appointment, or to place an order if you cannot join us.
 
Click on the Big Blue Button to make a selection from Amalie Robert Direct and we can hold your order until a temperature appropriate shipping window opens. Please note, we can also schedule delivery to a UPS or FedEx pick up location. Pretty handy if you have Vestiphobia, and do not want people dressed in uniforms coming to your door and interacting with your own individual environment.
 

 
July was one for the record books with the following footnote: We recorded a low temperature of 45.1 degrees and a high temperature of 102.7 degrees and made all the stops along the way. But overall July was pretty kind to the Willamette Valley winegrower.
 
The winegrower’s equipment however, manifested its inherent agrarian vagaries. In fact, Ernie had to perform Tractor Bypass Surgery on one machine. The machine can now maintain cooling fluid integrity and that allows Ernie to pivot his attention to the hedger. Here we see the main “lift cylinder” with a freshly corrupted seal, which is just weeping tractor fluid. Remember these words: Unfortunate, but not uncommon.
 

 
The main lift cylinder allows Ernie to dial in the height of the canopy to maximize the ripening potential from each vintage. Remember those leaves are really just a great big solar array. The taller it is, the more energy for the vines to ripen their seeds. And develop aroma and flavor, which is what we really care about. Hot vintages get short canopies, where it is important to not trim off the tops of the posts. If we ever have another cool vintage, we will hedge a tall canopy.
 
Do you want to take the top or the bottom? As we can see from this Accuweather graphic, there was a considerable amount of variation in the high temperatures for the month of July represented by the top trend line. The low temperatures were fairly well centered around the average as we see from the bottom trend line. Sometimes they have a rhythm and move in unison, sometimes not.
 

 
When we calculate Degree Days we break the month down into 12 minute intervals, or 3,600 data points per 30 day period. Any data point above 50 degrees adds to the Degree Day accumulation. Anything below, does not. As Yoda once said, “You do, or you do not”. He could have been a galactic winegrower. Maybe he was on Mars, probably Riesling or Gewurztraminer. We will see what the latest mission reveals. The Perseverance is cruising at 24,600 MPH on its 300 million mile mission to Mars. That’s about a 12,000-hour trip (1.4 years), one way. Hope they greased all the zerks before they left. https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/
 
So logically, if we have the top raging out of control with 100+ degree temperatures and the bottom dropping below 50 degrees every night, this would seem to be a moderate vintage from a Degree Day point of view. The vines of course would be scorched and tell a dramatically different story. Conversely, if most of the growing season saw temperatures top out in the mid 90’s with low temperatures covering the 40 to 60 degree territory, with a cooling breeze in the evening, that would be a sublime vintage. One quite worthy of our best effort in the vineyard and stewardship in the winery. And it is most definitely about time we had one of those vintages come around.
 
Well, the vineyard is all hedged up with two passes completed. The first pass trims the growing tips off of the dominate shoot. That allows the rest of the shoots to start growing like crazy. And that is when the second pass starts to get everyone’s attention. Our goal is to get the vines to stop growing more leaves and re-direct their energy to ripening their seeds. And in the process building aroma and flavor.
 

Growing like crazy again after the 1st pass of hedging!

 

Trimmed and now we have their attention after the 2nd pass of hedging.

 
Speaking of aroma and flavor, we are also shaping the texture of our wines. We do this by pulling leaves out of the fruit zone to expose our wine berries to the sun. But not too much. That silky seductive midpalate sensation we love in our Pinot Noirs comes from leaving a little more shade on our fruit. That was the field work for July. So far so good. August brings with it little pink berries and we start “thinning the herd”.
 
As they say, the Devil is in the details. So, let’s have a look at him.
 
As previously reported, the high for the month was 102.7 degrees recorded on July 26, at 5:36 pm, with the low temperature registering 45.1 degrees recorded on July 3, at 5:00 am. Degree Days for the month of July totaled 505.4. This brings the vintage 2020 growing Degree Day total to 1,237.5.
 
 
There were clouds, but no rain. Also, we did have Comet NEOWISE whiz by during the second half of the month. On July 23rd, they say the comet was a scant 64 million miles from Earth. Hell, harvest is closer than that and coming up quick!
 
The outlook for the remainder of Vintage 2020 is coming into view. And our view is that the weather will continue to moderate and provide a nice bit of hang time for our mid to low-yield vintage. That is direct from the farming farmer that farms our farm. You can take that to the bank, and for an additional $2 supplement, you can get a cup of farming coffee. Not great coffee, but it will get the job done. But the cup might leak on your new shoes. Unfortunate, but not uncommon.
 
You can reach Dena by email at Cuvee@amalierobert.com and by phone at 503-88-CUVEE (503-882-8833) to schedule your appointment, or to place an order if you cannot join us.
 
Kindest Regards,
 
Dena & Ernie

Friday, July 24, 2020

Amalie Robert Estate Update: Open House July 25-26 & Tractor Bypass Surgery


Hello and Welcome, 
  
This is an Amalie Robert Estate Update: Open House and Tractor Bypass Surgery. A FLOG communication from Dena and Ernie. Amalie Robert Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. 
  
Please join Dena and Ernie for our next Open House on Saturday, July 25 & Sunday, July 26, from 10 am to 3 pm by appointment. An Evite will arrive shortly to schedule your preferred tasting day and time. You may also reach Dena by email at Cuvee@amalierobert.com and by phone at 503-88-CUVEE (503-882-8833) to schedule your appointment, or to place an order if you cannot join us.

Well, we have turned the corner in the vineyard. Our three sets of catch wires are up and clipped into place, the first hedge is completed, and the vineyard crew has done their best at removing the proper amount of leaf coverage to just partially expose our wine berries. We wouldn’t want to show too much skin this early in the game. The fruit set looks to be light, but the numbers are not yet in.


Vineyard inspector number 527, without an appointment, ready for a little outdoor tasting @AmalieRobert

Open air outdoor wine tastings are happening from 10 am to 3 pm each and every weekend now through Labor Day. Make an appointment and come on by, you just don’t know who you might see. Here is the tasting protocol under the new shade canopy overlooking 35 acres of Amalie Robert Estate Vines.

Upon arrival you will be offered your choice of barrel station. Each barrel station is at least 6 feet away from any other barrel station and is equipped with a bottle of sanitizer to be used on your hands. Lip sanitizer, by definition, is part of the tasting program.

Your barrel station will include a new Amalie Robert Riedel glass (they make these just for us) for each person in your party and an unopened bottle of water that you may share among your party to rinse your new stemware. There will also be a double-sided all-in-one tasting program and order form. We may also include some laminated marketing SWAG that is sanitized before and after your tasting appointment. The tasting fee is $15 with the Riedel tasting glass and $10 is refundable on any two bottle purchase per person. You may also opt for the Riedel Burgundy glass for $25 and $10 is refundable on any two bottle purchase per person. The now christened Amalie Robert Riedel glass is yours to keep and may be rinsed again.

We understand travel is somewhat of a challenge this year. If you find that you cannot make it to the vineyard, let us pack up a little of our terroir and ship it to you, weather permitting. Use the Big Blue Button to pre-order for pick up, or to place an order for shipping.


If you are spending some quality time watching films, may we suggest some timeless classics such as the Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot series, or maybe the ever-thrilling Alfred Hitchcock or the short lived original Star Trek series. All very Pinot family friendly.

Now if you find yourself at the corner of confused and bewildered, you may have just crossed the border into the Twilight Zone. Or our local Safeway, where you can find the depleted shelves being restocked with never before seen products, such as this.


And so now that the vineyard is cruising on autopilot, you are probably wondering what Ernie is doing with all his spare time between now and harvest. Well, let’s just say he is keeping himself amused.

Has this ever happened to you? You sit down to peruse the daily inoculum of mayhem from your E-mail productivity program and it shows you nothing. Your first clue that something has gone awry is that you are using software written by the world’s second greatest marketing company, whose stock symbol is MSFT. The first greatest marketing company is, of course, Lionel Trains.


You click the little blue button with your pointing device (whose idea was originally stolen from Digital Equipment Company) and a medium sized blue screen appears that informs you that your (MSFT annuity based revenue stream) E-mail program is starting. Then the screen disappears, and that’s all you get. Sweet F@ck All, is the phrase Ernie picked up in MSFT Ireland.

Standard operating procedure is to shut down, pour another cup of morning accelerant and start up again. Rinse and repeat - same result. At this point you realize you are not the only person to have had this problem, just the latest one. Off to the wonderful word of web browsing to see just how bad this problem is, and how one might once again gain access to one’s E-mail file – in a timely manner.


Fortunately, this problem is unfortunate, but not uncommon. A quick little diagnosis reveals you may start the offending program in safe mode with this run command: Outlook /safe. You will notice there is a space in this command. Must be a typo, Ernie thought. Nope, it’s there on purpose. Remember, first and foremost, this is a marketing company.

And lo and behold Outlook starts in safe mode and right there in front of you are all of your E-mails and subfolders containing even more E-mails! And a history of every E-mail you have ever sent, just in case. Now the fix here is simplicity itself, just disable the add-in (that added itself in) that is causing Outlook to not start up on its own. Right, what’s a cubit?


Yeah, don’t hold your breath. After disemboweling the Outlook program, and rebooting each and every time, still no joy. “Aye captain, I’ve got some bad news for yea. I am afraid it is time to eject the warp core.” No, there is an even easier and faster solution that Ernie picked up working at MSFT. You quite simply and with great pleasure, uninstall the offending program! It is really simple and quite gratifying. Another half cup of mid-morning accelerant and a high fiber bran muffin is your reward as you watch the little blue bar get longer and longer as your Intel Core i7, 7th Gen x86 based processor vanquishes the malignant software. Now we are making an impact!

By the way, when are we moving off the x86 architecture? We really should be 4 valves per cylinder, direct injection twin turbos by now. Or hydrogen power, or warp drive.

Next up, install a clean, uncorrupted version of the offending software. A quick download is the norm, but here in the middle of nowhere with nowhere internet service, we have some time to bake a fresh batch of high fiber bran muffins. A quick reboot, and there it is. Everything is back to “new-normal” and you may resume your early afternoon onboarding of mayhem. Maybe time to back-up your files.

And then it hits you. It’s tractor maintenance week at Uncle Ernie’s work farm. Three Italian tractors, one German rototiller, one French hedger, one Canadian sprayer and an Irish-American mower. This year, we have a nice little crop of issues that really should have been non-issues except for the fact that the Italians seem to have lost a few pages in translation getting to ISO 9000.


After 20 years that overly tight zip tie finally cut through a heater hose going to the cab in the tractor in which Ernie spends a significant amount of quality time spraying the vineyard. No big deal you think, we really do not need heat in the cab this time of year, and besides the air conditioning was just repaired.

Tractor bypass surgery

Except for the fact that the heater hose is connected to the water pump which is connected to the radiator which cools the 100 horsepower diesel engine that powers the whole shebang. Lose all of the coolant and what you have left is a really big paperweight stuck in the middle of 35 acres of vines. At least the wheel studs are tight this year.

And then there is the ever-expanding puddle of transmission oil dripping off of the muffler mounted directly below the transmission. No matter how you spin that, it does not come out well. There is a single oil line coming from the engine compartment disappearing underneath the cab, behind the interior panels and reappearing just before the rear axle.


Turns out we have a metal clamp, without a protective rubber gromet, that secures this metal oil line to the transmission housing. And get this, there is a whole bundle of electrical wires zip tied to that metal oil line! Much like the Grinch, you can only put up with this for so long before metal fatigue becomes a rupture. What could this possibly operate? Doesn’t really matter, it is an oil leak that leaks on the muffler. You don’t have to be a winemaker to realize oil dripping on a hot muffler is not a sustainable condition. What is it with the Italians and their zip ties?

You know, these cell phones have incredible cameras these days. Who remembers The Eastman Kodak Company? A picture may well be worth a 1,000 words but sending off an image to the engineers who designed the equipment is priceless. And much less is lost in translation, even with the Canadians, eh?

Here we have a chain drive pump with an idler bearing. A classic and farmer tested design that has not evolved much, if at all since it was invented. And if it works, you don’t get to fix it - yet. But if the idler bearing is wearing out in less than 1 season, you cannot escape the conclusion, and $107 plus freight, that something is askew. And in this case it is the out of alignment lower pump drive sprocket “walking” its way back along the input shaft where it will meet certain doom when the chain comes in contact with the frame. This is a priority one repair, as in do it right farming now. Yabba Dabba Do It Now!

What the engineer sees

What the winegrower sees

Leverage. When you have applied the maximum amount of force with the hammers you have and are not making an impact, you need leverage. Leverage in the form of a 4 foot bar and your best hammer not so gently coaxing this sprocket back to its original factory installed position. Hence, we apply the principle E=mc2 where the mass does not change, however it does absorb significant energy. And over time, directly applied energy slowly realigns the lower pump drive sprocket with the upper sprocket, thus extending the life of said idler bearing. You learn Einstein’s theory of relativity in school, but applied percussive maintenance is learned on the job. Please refer to page 118 of the May issue of Modern Agrarian.

And of course, there are the standard oil, lube and filter chores for 5 diesel powered machines. Nice to see a pack of field mice thought the air cleaner was a good place to build a nest. Top off the radiator, check the tires and don’t forget to grease the zerks. They really appreciate it. And so, that is what gets Ernie out of bed in the morning, albeit very cautiously. Almost as much fun as opening E-mail…

But the vines sure look nice!



You can reach Dena by email at Cuvee@amalierobert.com and by phone at 503-88-CUVEE (503-882-8833) to schedule your appointment, or to place an order if you cannot join us.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: June 2020 and Salud Pinot Noir Auction


Hello and Welcome, 
  
This is an Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: June 2020 and Salud Pinot Noir Auction. A FLOG communication from Dena and Ernie. Amalie Robert Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. 
  
iPinot COVID-19 Pivot Pricing is still in effect at $120 on six bottles with domestic ground shipping included. Just click on the Big Blue Button to browse available vintages and collect your favorite! 


You will not need a promo code to activate pricing. The pricing will automatically adjust when you select six bottles of iPinot and there is no further discount on iPinot. The shipping will be adjusted upon confirmation of your order. This is our contribution to the human condition, yours and ours. If you have any questions or need assistance, please E-mail Dena at Cuvee@amalierobert.com.

You don’t have to be crazy to grow Pinot Noir, but it helps. June has been quite the rollercoaster, but all in all we will log it as a positive in the vineyard journal. Cool and rainy was the beginning and the end of the month. The midsection was pleasant and sunny. This vintage is not quite sure who it wants to be. Not too much to complain about here at the vineyard though – not too much heat, or rain or pestilence upon the land, just yet.


Speaking of pestilence, we have a COVID-19 update. We opened the winery to outside tasting for one day last month. We are not going to name names, but you know who you are. Thank you for joining us. All went well and we learned what worked and what we could improve upon.

For the month of July, the winery will be open by appointment for personalized tastings. We will also have Saturday and Sunday weekend hours of 10 am to 3 pm for wine tasting and call ahead wine order pick up. We ask that you contact Dena at Cuvee@amalierobert.com to reserve your time. If you can’t join us, we can arrange shipping on your behalf. And we have upped our game with insulated shippers to extend our reach.

We have adopted the following outside tasting protocol. Upon arrival you will be offered your choice of barrel station under our new sun shade canopy. Each barrel station is at least 6 feet away from any other barrel station and is equipped with a bottle of sanitizer to be used on your hands. Lip sanitizer, by definition, is part of the tasting program.

Your barrel station will include a new Amalie Robert Riedel tasting glass (they make these just for us) for each person in your party and an unopened bottle of water that you may share among your party to rinse your new stemware. There will also be a double-sided all-in-one tasting program and order form. We may also include some laminated marketing SWAG that is sanitized before and after your tasting appointment. The tasting fee is $20 with $15 refundable on any two bottle purchase per person. The now christened Amalie Robert Riedel tasting glass is yours to keep and may be rinsed again.


Vineyard tours are available based on Ernie’s availability. Lately the tractors have sprung some very interesting leaks in some not so easily accessible places. Nonetheless, the vines are on their trajectory to ripeness and we would like to show them off. They have just been freshly hedged and look quite smart. Our rows are socially distant accessible at 90 inches apart. So, either dress for a walk in the vineyard to see the vines or bring your overalls for an “under the tractor” exposé. Yes, there is a difference between 4 millimeters and 3/16”.

The Amex Shop Small promotion is in effect. Amalie Robert Estate is a Shop Small business. The promotion is good for the entire month of July, August and into September. A qualified purchase of $10 or more will earn you a statement credit of $5. And you can use this offer up to 10 times. Please visit the American Express site for more details and to enroll your card. Do it today, don’t delay or you may miss the boat!



  
Now the fun stuff.


Miles and miles of hi-tensile trellis wires. We run three sets and the goal is to capture the vines’ growth at the most opportune time. Of course, the vines are keen to our plan. Some shoots grow quickly as if to escape our grasp. Others more slowly as if lying in wait to set upon us when we least expect it. Remind you of anyone? Perhaps someone with just three fingers?


Wouldn’t it be nice if Wile E. Coyote were to show up with one of his ACME products that self-installed trellis wires. Wouldn’t that be something? From the Jet-Propelled Pogo Stick to the Dehydrated Boulders, the ACME mail order catalog was his go-to source for new and innovative products. Makes you wonder what shipping costs would be on a box of dehydrated boulders. And hey, can you throw in a couple of supernovas? Kinda like Cracker Jacks. You can view the entire ACME catalog offering here.


Well, that’s not how it works. A crew of 5 highly trained and specialized vineyard workers are responsible for raising our trellis wires in vintage 2020. Oh sure, we have a coyote come through the vineyard from time to time. Not all that wily looking, mostly just trying to sniff out members of the Rodentia class of varmints. However, the bobcat that comes through block 14 always seems to have a purpose, a look of intention. He or She has the face of a Bengal tiger and we enjoy observing this cat from the safety of our kitchen.


The first set of trellis wires comes up when we have about 12 inches of growth, mostly. Just before we finish that set, the next set of wires at about 40 inches are ready to come up. About this time, Ernie is mounting the hedger on his pearl essence, powder blue Landini Rex 100 GT. (It’s Italian, what can we say.) And the third set of wires is where you discover the labor pool you have is about 4 hands short of what you needed to finish on time. At the end, the shoots are out of control and now they have the leverage. It is not a pretty sight. Total time to raise three sets of catch wires is 99,902 minutes, or about 117.178 seconds per vine. Just about the amount of time you need for the 2-minute warning.


But the hedger, aka The Enforcer, comes onto the scene right behind that third set of wires. What was all chaos and confusion is now rigidly enforced discipline. Any shoot caught outside the confines of the trellis wire will be summarily “removed”. And much like the wire regime, there will be a second and third hedging pass that is just as strict. If we have excessive soil moisture that encourages more growth, there is the option of a fourth hedge. It keeps Ernie off the streets, but it would sure be fun to run the Landini Rex 100 GT with hedger blades slashing up and down I-5 during rush hour!







It’s that time of year for the Summertime ¡Salud! Pinot Noir Auction. This year brings the COVID-19 edition where all bidding and virtual tasting for that matter, will occur online. If you want to see what you look like during a ZOOM virtual tasting, just position yourself in front of a mirror. Your backdrop may give away more than you know. We recommend the red SOLO cup for a spit cup. Much better than the glass alternative.

Amalie Robert Estate has been a contributing member of the Vintners Circle since 2006. The top 35 like-minded Oregon wineries produce a special cuvée just for the ¡Salud! mission. There are only 5 cases produced from each winery, and the only way to get one is to be a successful bidder at ¡Salud!
You can preview the auction lots here. Note we are number 3 of 35 wineries on offer this year.

The ¡Salud! mission is a good way to give back into the community that makes world Class Oregon Pinot Noir a reality. To learn more about the ¡Salud! mission and register to bid, please visit their website at  website here: http://saludauction.org/mission/ As noted above, those trellis wires do not raise themselves. But Ernie does have a call into the ACME company. No word back as of yet.


The numbers. While he does have the X and Y axis correctly identified, he is missing the Z axis – Speed. Trajectory, as Wile E. Coyote never seems to recall, is dependent upon thrust, or speed. In the vineyard construct, our Z axis is heat units. The hotter it is the faster the wine berries build sugar. Heat units are not just a reflection of the high temperature of the day. The vines are out there 24 x 7 and experience the cool nights as well as the warm days. And Ernie’s 3,600 data points per 30-day period approximate the curve quite accurately, every 12 minutes. Yeah, he’s got some kinda spreadsheet for that.
 

The month of June accumulated 341.2 Degree Days bringing vintage 2020 to a growing season total of 732.1 Degree Days. The first half of the month provided 122.6 Degree Days and 0.98 inches of rain. The second half of the month added 218.6 Degree Days and 0.59 inches of rain. The grass noticed the rain and Ernie got an unexpected extra mowing pass. The high temperature for the month was 89.6 degrees recorded on June 23rd at 2:36 pm. The low temperature was 38.1 recorded June 4th at 12:36 am.



Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie

Monday, June 8, 2020

Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: Flowers 2020


Hello and Welcome, 

This is an Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: Flowers 2020. A FLOG communication from Dena and Ernie. Amalie Robert Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. 
  
The first sighting of wine berry flowers at Amalie Robert Estate occurred Monday, June 8, 2020. Flowers are the first sign that vintage 2020 is headed to harvest. And it comes with some specificity (105 days to be exact) from flowers to The Great Cluster Pluck. Yep, you can set your watch by it. You know the one… the one with just one hand.



Your timing would be off of course, but it wouldn’t be your fault. There are all manner of hidden and not so hidden disasters-in-waiting that can disrupt the path to harvest. And while we have fortunately not seen them all, in 20 years we have seen enough and gained tremendous experience. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. But it is wisdom that we are after, if only...

Like the early warning Cedar Waxwings that flew into the vineyard last week. They are wine berry bandits, complete with masks and afterburners. Typically, their turf is southern Oregon and we would prefer they stay there.


And so we press on to harvest 2020, undaunted in our quest. Even though we have seen this show before, each year’s production varies considerably from baseline and year to year. We live the infamous words of John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”


We grow three selections of Pinot Noir: Pommard Clone, Wadenswil Clone and five of the Dijon Clones. Each of them blooms about the same time, mostly dependent upon on where they are situated in the vineyard. Higher elevation plantings have a tendency to flower later and we usually harvest them toward the end of The Great Cluster Pluck. If you would like to learn more about the Wadenswil Clone, you can check out Interview with a Clone - Wadenswil 2A.

We also produce dedicated bottlings to showcase the best of what these clones can do on our site. The Pommard and Wadenswil Clone selections are typically just 2 barrels each (48 cases) of the most intriguing barrels of the vintage.  The Dijon Clones bottling is a little different story. We planted five of the Dijon Clones of Pinot Noir and they are 113, 114, 115, 667 and 777. We blend all five of these clones together to make the Dijon Clones Pinot Noir.

If you would like to experience these clones in their purest form, click on the Big Blue Button that will whisk you away to Amalie Robert Direct where you can peruse bottlings and select your favorite vintages. And check out the iPinot 6-pack offering while you are there.


Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Amalie Robert Estate Update: Repositioning iPinot in the Time of COVID-19


Hello and Welcome, 
  
This is an Amalie Robert Estate Update: Repositioning iPinot in the Time of COVID-19. A FLOG Communication from Dena and Ernie. Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Amalie Robert Estate. 
  
“May you live in interesting times” is an English expression that is often used in irony. In that, quality of life is usually better in uninteresting times of status quo versus the disruption and unrest our country is currently experiencing. Air travel is a case in point where an interesting flight is often less safe than an uninteresting flight. Surely, we are leading interesting lives in the time of COVID-19. We hope you are safe and well. We are tucked into the vineyard and winery like ticks on a hound dog.

Plenty of room for distancing @AmalieRobert Estate.

COVID-19 has provided many people, including us, an opportunity to focus and pay close attention to what really is important. This graphic helps explain the relative importance of several factors impacting the human condition during COVID-19. Some items are relatively unaffected, such as the need for a cup of freshly brewed morning accelerant. What may have changed is the source from where this beverage is derived. The term “Homebrew” has taken on a new significance.


We see the need for a vehicle or mundane daily activities such as shaving to be of less importance. This may in fact be dependent on other factors, such as one’s employment status or location of said employment. Daily grooming habits represent a slippery slope as we will see next as we examine sweatpants and internet usage.

Correlation and causation are unreliable bedfellows. As we can see from the graphic, both the use of the internet and choice of sweatpants are highly favored. That does not necessarily mean one is dependent upon the other. However, both could be dependent upon the social expectations in play during traditional work hours or ZOOM calls. (I would stand up but I am wearing sweatpants, or no pants at all!) Or maybe surfing the internet is more enjoyable in sweatpants. Clearly, wearing sweatpants does not create a desire to surf the internet. While correlated, causation is difficult to prove with a high level of confidence.

And then there is the panic mode shopping, also called pantry stuffing. Toilet paper was the first item in this category to gain notoriety. Daily grooming habits can ebb and flow from day to day, but personal hygiene is a different matter. Next came hand sanitizer followed by masks, sneeze guards and disposable gloves. As time goes by, these items will return to their normal level of importance, however there will always be an extra roll or two tucked in behind the bath towels, just in case.

And that brings us to the Adult Recreational Beverage category. As the yellow line on the chart indicates, right about the start of March there was a steep and sustained level of importance placed in this category. At times we can look to social influencers, such as Martha Stewart, to impact behaviors and trends. They can add a level of comfort in knowing you are not the only one enjoying an Adult Recreational Beverage, or two. The real difference is that you had the presence of mind to discontinue internet activities during the social hour.


Repositioning iPinot for the New Normal - the COVID-19 Pivot. Our reading of the tea leaves is that the impacts of COVID-19 are going to have a half life that lasts quite some time.

iPinot is reserve quality barrels of Pinot Noir selected for our “Hers and His Reserves”, Amalie’s Cuvée and Estate Selection. Once the final “Hers and His Reserve” wines are blended, we have a few extra reserve quality barrels of wine to blend. We blend these barrels of wine together to create iPinot - a reserve level wine without the reserve level price.

We introduced iPinot to the marketplace in two ways. The first is from Amalie Robert Direct. We sell this Pinot Noir via internet distribution everywhere it is legal for us to do so. You might be surprised to learn that there are still a few states that do not allow their citizens to receive wine shipments directly from wineries. Currently, these states are Delaware, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Utah.

The second way to experience iPinot, until COVID-19, was as a “by the glass” offering at select restaurants. Our goal in offering iPinot for a glass pour program was to build brand awareness for Amalie Robert. The restaurant landscape has since changed, significantly. And no one really knows when or how the restaurant business is coming back. People must feel comfortable in the presence of other, unknown people in a somewhat confined space.

There are a lot of moving parts throughout the country and local ordinances play a significant role. However, our goal remains the same. We intend to continue offering a compelling wine that represents an excellent value and that wine is iPinot Pinot Noir.

And now, instead of enjoying a glass “out” at a fine dining establishment, you can enjoy a glass “in” at your very own fine dining establishment. Or maybe it is Tuesday night book club and a glass of iPinot. Then there is Wine Wednesday with Martha and the girls – you can even post to social media. Thursday is the unofficial start to the weekend, and iPinot fits that bill quite nicely.

Starting today, and for the foreseeable future, we are offering iPinot at $120 on six bottles or more with domestic ground shipping included. Just click on the Big Blue Button to browse available vintages or collect them all!


Note: You will not need a promo code to activate pricing. The pricing will automatically adjust when you select six bottles of iPinot and there is no further discount on iPinot. The shipping will be adjusted upon confirmation of your order. This is our contribution to the human condition, yours and ours. If you have any questions or need assistance, please E-mail Dena at Cuvee@amalierobert.com.

Kindest Regards,

 Dena & Ernie

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: May 2020


Hello and Welcome, 
  

This is an Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: May 2020. A FLOG communication from Dena and Ernie. Amalie Robert Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

May was a Dr. Seuss type month. First it was hot and then it was not. There was no rain and then it rained a lot. In farming you get what you get and that’s what we got!


April was the month where Ernie focused on preparing the vineyard floor for vintage 2020. The vines noticed the tilled soil and welcomed the newly germinated cover crop. Freshly cycled nutrients and frequent showers made an abundance of nutrients available to our vines. And now they are on a tear!

Our vines have just explosive growth early in the season. Our job is to capture that growth, in an orderly fashion, with three sets of trellis wires. At the end of the growing season, we want good separation of the clusters of wine berries to minimize the chance for mildew or bunch rot to take hold. And here is how we do it - by hand.

The first activity to clean off all of the excess new growth early in the season. “Nip it in the bud” is the colloquial phrase. This means to remove excess or poorly positioned shoots before they can tap into the vines limited spring resources. We are looking for about 15 growing points on any given vine. The vines are survivors and they will start the year off with maybe 30 growing points, including the shin kickers at 3 inches off the ground. Our goal is to focus the vine’s energy in those 15 growing points that will bear the best quality wine berries. Their next stop is the winery where we will ferment the sugar out of them!


This brief video will give you an idea of how we do shoot thinning, taking us from 30 down to about 15 shoots. You can check out several other exciting videos (viticulturally speaking) on our YouTube channel.


Click to watch the Shoot Thinning video at Amalie Robert Estate

The freshly germinated cover crop also has a role to play this month, Buckwheat in particular. This little plant has superpowers. The first of which is that it will flower about 3 weeks after it germinates. This is quick in the plant kingdom. The flowers provide pollen for our army of beneficial insects. Beneficial insects are the insects that eat the nasty-bad insects that like to feed on our vines. Ladybugs and earwigs are good. Cane borers and some mites are bad, but they taste good, apparently. Buckwheat flowers provide protein, in the form of pollen, for our army of beneficial insects when they can’t find any nasty-bad insects to vanquish.


The alternative is what is known as a completely “clean cultivated” vineyard floor. That means each row is barren earth. No life-giving pollen or places for your beneficial insects to hunt down those nasty-bad insects. The reasoning behind clean cultivation, such that it is, is that there will be more water available to the vine roots. Maybe, but this is Oregon and it does rain here spring and fall. Speaking of which, has anyone tried a 2007 vintage Pinot Noir lately? Just sublime…

Either way, we like the little ecosystem we have created for our “first responders”. And the cover crop and grass help maintain a healthy soil high in humus – good for the worms. It also informs the vine that if it really wants water, it needs to send those roots deep. And that is the ultimate advantage of old vines, deep, deep roots. Assuming you chose the right rootstock to begin with.

Ok, let’s change our view to 38 inches above the vineyard floor. That is where the canopy management action was happening in May. Our first of three sets of trellis wires are positioned at 8 inches above our 30 inches fruiting wire. Ultimately, the vines will top out at 90 inches above the vineyard floor. That gives us a 60 inch tall canopy – or active solar array as Ernie thinks of it. Our job is to get those 15 shoots contained within those wires and clipped into place.


You are all accustomed to the climate numbers Ernie has been tracking since we established the vineyard at Amalie Robert Estate, but he has a whole other set of workbooks that track oh so much more. There are 49 blocks planted on the property, 42 of them are numbered and 7 of them have their own alpha-numeric nomenclature. Odd for computer science people we know, but it is better than using binary or hexadecimal ordering – which we could do.

Ernie has been tracking vineyard activities for quite some time. In the case of this first set of wires, it took 568.53 hours to raise wires and tuck in all (mostly) of the vine’s shoots. That comes in at about 39.864 seconds per vine times 51,343 fruiting vines. That’s good news because it is a full 3 seconds faster than the trailing 4 year average! It took Einstein a while, but he finally came around to the “time is money” axiom, just after he finished the theory of relativity.

Ernie still hasn’t finished his book “Negotiated Reality – My Turn in the Barrel”. But thanks to the inherently unique nature of the wine business, he has an abundance of source material to pull from.

Now we thought it would be interesting to present some vine association graphics. This is what your wine looks like in the vineyard right about now, and what it is going to look like in a year or so.

First up is Chardonnay.


Then Pinot Meunier.


To complete the Champagne Deconstructed theme, we have Pinot Noir.


Here is our Syrah.


And our Viognier.


Lastly, a cluster of what will become wine berries. Bonus points available if you can accurately identify the variety.


After all those pictures, we get to some numbers. The month of May contributed 257.4 Degree Days to vintage 2020, bringing us to a grand total to date of 390.9 degree days.

The high temperature for the 30 day period was 88.9 degrees and the low temperature was 37.4 degrees. The first half of the month was cooler registering 111.6 Degree Days, however the second half of the month recorded the low temperature.

The second half of the month registered 145.8 Degree Days and recorded the high temperature.  Rainfall was 3.76 inches for the month providing a growing season to date total of 5.09 inches and is significantly more than the 1.33 inches recorded in April. Maybe that explains why Ernie is spending so much time mowing the grass.


Next up in June we will have countless flowers in the vineyard and the second set of trellis wires up. A little farther down the road, The Great Cluster Pluck will visit itself upon us in about 120 days. But until then, these little blighters are starting to make themselves known and will be doing their best to keep us entertained. Despite what you may have heard, these are considered nasty-bad insects.


iPinot COVID-19 Pivot Pricing is now in effect at $120 on six bottles with domestic ground shipping included. Just click on the Big Blue Button to browse available vintages or collect them all!



Note: You will not need a promo code to activate pricing. The pricing will automatically adjust when you select six bottles of iPinot and there is no further discount on iPinot. The shipping will be adjusted upon confirmation of your order. This is our contribution to the human condition, yours and ours. If you have any questions or need assistance, please E-mail Dena at Cuvee@amalierobert.com.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie