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


© 2005 – 2017 Amalie Robert Estate, LLC

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2006 August


August is in the record books and we are entering the crucial month of September. During September, I will take cluster samples and report maturity and climate data specific to your blocks. It seems like only a few months ago that we were flowering and hopeful for enough fruit to fill fermenters. Someone out there, it appears, was hoping a little too hard.

The 2 week weather forecast I have seen calls for warm daytime temperatures in the mid 80-90 degree range and nighttime temperatures in the 50s. The Pinot Noir crop load has been reduced to one cluster per shoot with wings removed. The canopy remains very green and is holding up to the dry summer very well.

For everyone who has yellow jacket issues, may I recommend baiting your yellow jacket traps with salmon scraps. We have found this extremely effective and deeply rewarding, as I am allergic to bee stings. Using 30 traps for 48 hours resulted in 1.5 plastic Safeway bags full of dead yellow jackets. We mostly place the traps on endposts that are near blackberry bushes where we will also have harvest bins.

Here are the climate numbers for August. We have received 503 degree days through the 30th of August, which brings us to a total of 1,749 degree days for 2006. For comparison, at this time in 2005 we had logged 1,629 degree days. So, we are still ahead by about 120 degree days, or about 7.4% over last year. Our highest hi was 103.4 and the lowest high was 90.9. The lowest low was 43.9 and the highest low was 46.8.

The only moisture we received was 0.05 inches on August 30th which brings the year to 29.20 inches and is 9.10 inches above last year's total of 20.10 inches through August 30th. Last year we were a bit more fortunate and recorded 0.06 inches during August.

Looking back to last year's September conditions, I see degree days of about 360 and 1.7 inches of rain. For those who like to "LET 'EM HANG!", we picked up another 60 degree days and 1.6 inches of rain through October 19. As a reminder, the 2003 vintage gave us about 645 degree days in September. Steve Goff has been really working his crystal ball, and when I get a look at it I will let everyone know when we will be picking.

Something to note in this big berried year is the August degree days and nighttime temperatures compared to the last 2 years. It seems to me, we have been cooling a bit more this August than in previous years. It is eerie that the July temperature numbers for 2004 and 2005 are the same. Here is a brief table with the numbers (in case you don't have enough to think about already.)

Degree Days and Night Time Temperatures



Monday, July 31, 2006

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2006 July

Hello & Welcome,

Here is a brief update on how the vineyard is coming along. Generally speaking, I am very pleased with the growing season and the vines have blessed us with a moderate to above average fruit set. Of course, there is plenty of race left to run with the months of September and October being crucial to another great vintage.

The climate for the last two months has provided us with 844 degree days (June 254 and July 590.) This brings us to a total of 1,246 degree days as of the 30th of July. For comparison, at this time in 2005 we had logged 1,062 degree days (June 254 and July 548). So we are up about 184 degree days or 17% over last year at this time. The highest hi temperature in June was 85.80 and the lowest high was 79.50. The lowest low in June was 40.20 and the highest low was 43.20. July had a heat spike that sent our highest hi to 108.50 and our lowest hi to 99.40. The lowest low in July was 46.10 and the highest low was 49.70. I am using decimals here, as it has been recently brought to my attention that 4.00 out of 3.00 people have trouble with fractions.

Looking forward, if we add the 2005 degree days for the remainder of this year (997 degree days) to the current year, we would end this season at roughly 2,243 degree days. Rainfall since April 1 through July 30th has totaled 6.00" inches here at the vineyard (1.01 for June and 0.18 for July) compared to 10.50" inches last year (2.35 June and 0.17 for July.) My forecast for the month of August comes from a lyric in a Sting song: "There'll be clouds but, no rain."

The vineyard is looking very green and healthy. The vineyard floor has a small amount of cover crop (barley and vetch) planted in alternate rows. It is clear to see where excess soil moisture is present as we have more vigorous growth compared with where the cover crop has gone dormant. I think this is equalizing the vineyard and helping to get these damp/vigorous areas

through the light red fruit phase of maturity into the dark red and blue/black fruits. Dena and I are pretty happy with the progress. We talked it over for an hour and a fifth the other night.

The canopy has been hedged twice and I see a third pass in my future. Leaf pull was again minimal this year as I am trying to mitigate the tannin and astringency that seems to be the characteristic of our site. The fruit is healthy; I am current on the spray program and have not detected any disease pressure. We are currently sitting about 3.5 to 45 tons per acre depending on the block. We are finishing up lag weights and will begin thinning crop/wings down to 2 tons per fruiting acre next week. I would expect to see some "pink" berries in the Pinot noir by the 10th of August. For us, clone 777 on 44-53M has historically been the first to turn.



BTW: The Syrah flowered on June 17 this year.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Amalie Robert Estate: 2006 Spring Cellar Report

Hello and Welcome,

Spring has finally arrived and we are grateful. Ernie thinks the winter lasted a bit too long and cabin fever began to set in. But, the "off season" is a good time to reflect and make plans for the following year. We have taken advantage of this time and have some updates to share.

The most recent news is that Ernie has completed planting the "North Orchard." You may recall this block is about 8 acres and is the highest elevation on the property. This brings us up to about 30 acres, nearly 45,000 vines. We planted all of this acreage (about 12,000 vines) to Pinot Noir (Pommard, Dijon clone 114 and 667) on 3 different rootstocks. The next step is the trellis with about 160 posts and 65 miles of wire. If all goes well and Mother Nature smiles upon us, the North Orchard will begin to bear fruit in 2008. We will keep you "posted".

Dena has also been busy with label designers trying to refine our look. The 2004 labels were updated just slightly with better color utilization and the use of a proper burgundy bottle. The 2005 front labels will show off Dena's handiwork and we will retain the burgundy shape bottle. The back label is Ernie's design and it reflects the structure and discipline you have come to expect from him. We have rekindled the cork debate and may be going "old school" back to real corks for our 2005 Pinot Noirs.

We were very honored earlier this year to be invited to join the ¡Salud! Pinot Noir barrel auction this fall. This event is in its 15th year and is held each November. The purpose is to raise funds to provide healthcare to the people who work our fields and move from crop to crop as the seasons change. Both Dena and Ernie are big supporters of this mission and Ernie is on the Steering Committee. His primary responsibility is the Saturday Big Board Auction. Click here to learn more.

The next big thing is our winery project. Last fall we began planning for our estate winery. We chose an experienced architect whose projects include Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene, and Stoller Vineyards. We were fortunate that a very experienced builder was available to construct our winery. Their prior projects include Bethel Heights and Penner-ash.  We broke ground on February 9 and are targeted to complete the construction by mid-August. Our goal is to crush 20 tons of our estate grown fruit this fall. The best part is that we will have Syrah and Viognier for the first time!

Let's talk about the wines. Our site and Mother Nature really hit it off in 2005. The wines in barrel are just flat-out gorgeous. We will again have a Dijon clones bottling in 2005 and perhaps a bit larger production of Amalie's Cuvée. We will also be crafting a ¡Salud! wine from a very small lot that we personally hand harvested last fall. The clones are our favorites, Dijon 114 and 115. We have also tasted through all of our customers’ cellars and everyone is extremely pleased with the 2005s.  We sell fruit to Beaux Frères, Cristom Vineyards, Elk Cove Vineyards and Dick Erath.

As you know, our 2004s are just being released. We knew the barrel lots were great, but waiting for them to come out of bottle shock is a trying experience. Maybe the move to real corks will help this process. These wines are unfined & unfiltered and are beginning to develop some sediment. Decanting is not required; however setting the bottle upright for about 30 minutes is a good idea.

We submitted these wines to a reviewer who has a palate we trust - Stephen Tanzer at the International Wine Cellar. We were very pleased with the scoring, but even more excited about his descriptions. Here is what he had to say about our 2004 Pinot Noirs:

Amalie's Cuvee (91 cases produced) - Dark red. Raspberry and strawberry preserves on the nose, with hints of cola and dark chocolate. Sweet, plump cherry and blackberry on the palate, with good breadth and depth but not the purity or vivacity of the Dijon Clones bottling. A lush, weighty wine that picks up some exotic spice notes on the back end, finishing on a sweet, ripe note. (This was the first vintage under the label of this estate, which still sells half of its harvest to top local producers like Beaux Frères and Cristom.) 89 points

Dijon Clones (254 cases produced) - Light red. Flat-out gorgeous nose of red berries, yellow rose and five-spice powder, with a chalky mineral element adding energy and lift. Juicy, vibrant and pure, the nicely concentrated flavors running the red fruit gamut (especially wild strawberry), with an earthy note of rhubarb. Wonderfully clean and brisk, but with no shortage of concentration or flavor impact through the finish. Develops a wild, sweet note of underbrush with air. This is strikingly pure, unadorned and pretty pinot. 91 points

                                    - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/Jun 06

If you have made it this far, you know that you won't see or hear from Ernie again until the Harvest Review. His primary job from here until harvest is directing the field work and putting in the tractor time that will steward our fruit through the summer and into the winery where our first crush awaits. During this time, Dena will be keeping everything else together and staying in touch with you. 

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie