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!
"This is one of the Willamette Valley’s most distinguished wineries, but not one that is widely known."
- Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile - September 2016
"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
"...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
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Thursday, May 31, 2018
The flail mower is a wonderful thing. It is a specialized piece of farm equipment that only does one thing. But it does it really well. And that is to cut a 5 foot wide swath of grass, buddy. And since our vineyard rows are 7.5 feet apart, a 5 foot cut is ideal. As we have proven in a previous post, and Ernie has the empirical evidence to back it up, one pass through the vineyard is about 20 lineal miles – at 3 miles per hour.
Mathematically, this is about 7 hours worth of farming. Farming, by the way, is what you are doing when you are not growing wine. But it’s not 7 hours, It’s more like 10 to 12 hours, and that’s if you can make whatever repairs are needed without leaving the farm for parts. And you have had the forethought to order sufficient diesel to perform said farming. And they deliver once a week – how convenient!
Ernie has made three mowing passes to cut down this grass uprising, and there will be another 3 passes once he starts hedging. That’s a lotta grass, buddy.
And the sock monster has claimed a pair (nonmatching mind you) of socks. We have yet to receive a ransom note, but that should be coming along any day now. In the mean time, this leaves us with a pair of hunting socks. Because we are hunting for the pair that looks just like them!
We have begun training our vines’ newfound Spring growth into the trellis. After just about 20 years of this activity, you would think the vines would have it figured out by now. Not so. They seem to have a classic failing, which we have seen in our previous careers. They lack focus and attention to detail.
But their rate of growth is just astounding! And if you look at it from their perspective, would you want to be constrained in 3 sets of catch wires pinched together with a few plastic clips? Confining your growth to a vertical wall of leaves about 6 inches deep and 60 inches tall to maximize sun exposure and minimize the chance of your wine berries inflicted with mildew or other fungi?
The correct answer is YES! Yes, I want that! But alas, they do not.
An acre of vines at Amalie Robert Estate can be thought of as 5,808 lineal feet. This means if we put all of our vines in one row, an acre’s worth of vines would be 5,808 feet long. If you were to walk a mile that would be 5,280 lineal feet. So, logically, an acre of vines can be thought of as 1.1 miles long. If it helps, bear in mind that a vineyard is just a physical implementation of a mental construct. But the field work is real.
To put this viticultural activity in perspective, we are going to do some farming math. You most likely won’t need your thinking cap, but if it is nearby this would be the time to grab it as you refill your wine glass - even if you must open another bottle to do so.
Since we rely on hard working field workers to raise these wires and position the vines’ growth inside of them, this process takes a while. Depending on a wide range of factors that would make your head explode, the average time it takes to put up 3 sets of catch wires is just about 2.5 minutes per vine, based on a 10 year average. Since we have 1,452 vines per acre, that takes us about 3,630 minutes per acre, or about 7.5 field worker days. Pretty easy so far, right?
Now we reveal the magic number: 35.74. That is the number of acres of vines we farm. Using the magic number, we can learn that we have 235.88 miles of wires to raise (and eventually lower.) We can also know that we need about 268 field worker days to raise these wires and harness the vines’ growth. So if you come to visit the winery during the month of June and Ernie asks if you want to take a walk in the vines, now you know what you are really signing up for. As always, you will want to wear comfortable shoes and gloves might be a good idea.
What we cannot know is how many field workers we will have on any given day. Which leads us to not knowing what day the wires will be raised and Ernie can start hedging. Switching from Thinking Cap to Duct Tape, buddy.
And lo and behold we have EVEN MORE numbers! Ernie guessed the rainfall amount from the last day of May would be 0.30 inches. But when Dena checked the rain gauge, she said it was 0.28 inches. Clearly it’s time for Dena’s annual eye exam.
And we have accumulated 282.2 degree days for the month of May. When added to our April degree days of 110.1, this yields 392.3 degree days for the 2018 growing season. The high temperature for the month of May was 93.0 degrees Fahrenheit and the low temperature was 37.2 degrees. A fine start to the year.
Dena & Ernie