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


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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2007 September


Congratulations! We have made it to October, and will harvest Pinot Noir this month!!! Getting through September was a thrill. Here are the numbers.

First off, the rains came at the end of the month as was foretold by just about every weather forecaster. Specifically, we received 1.59 inches during the last few days of the month. This averaged about 0.40 inches per day. Total rainfall for the month was 1.79 inches.

September did put a good foot forward in the degree day ledgers. We logged 394 degree days (293 through the 15th and an additional 101 through the end of the month.) This brings us to a cool climate viticulture total of 1,891 degree days for the growing season. Oregon was granted Statehood in 1859 and will celebrate the sesquicentennial of Statehood in 2009.

The fruit, so far, is looking good - nice and clean, eager to get warm in a fermenter. Birds and deer have not been a problem, but I see them - often. Sugars before the rain event were in the low 20s with pHs ranging from 3.19 to 3.30. It seems to me, flavors have come on early, while sugars and acids have yet to find their balance. The canopy is showing signs of impending harvest. However, with the rains, all bets are off. I think if we can see a window of dry, breezy days, harvest would quickly set upon us.  



Friday, August 31, 2007

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2007 August

Well, Hello There!

It seems summer has arrived, just in time. We have a fairly determined breeze with about 20 mph gusts and temperatures in the lower 90s. The haunt of September 2003 seems to be visiting today. Our Pinot Noir clusters that survived the thinning process are sporting a nice purple to "gunmetal blue" tan. We will be removing wings beginning this week. We have not detected any signs of Botrytis from the August rains; however, I was sleeping easier at night knowing I had sprayed for it at cluster close and veraison. Veraison seemed to happen somewhere around the 5th, and then again on the 12th. I think many clusters are carrying berries from separate and distinct pollination periods. They are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, if only we could ferment them that way.

Here are the numbers through August. We have recorded about 442 degree days for the month of August, providing a total of 1,496 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st. This compares with 503 degree days last August and a comparative total of 1,750 degree days for 2006. In 2005 we had accumulated 1,630 degree days through the end of August. Add 645 degree days if you think we will be having a 2003 September, or 360 degree days if you like the odds of a 2005 September.

During August, our highest high was 97.1 and our lowest high was 90.9. Our lowest low was 44.7 and our highest low was 49.0 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for August was 0.78 inches and was 0.73 inches over last August's rain of 0.05. Rainfall since April 1st through August 31st was 4.44 inches, and is 0.03 inches less than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 4.41 inches (How about that for insignificant!) From the vines' point of view, we are 254 degree days short of last year and about spot on for rainfall.

The cover crop is still mostly dormant and is being sustained from the morning dew. The canopy is very green, lush and healthy. The canes are lignifying to a "café au lait" brown that sets off the dark clusters at first light. Sorry, I got confused and grabbed my marketing hat.

Back to farming.  I took the precaution of a 3rd hedge to remove as many growing tips as possible. I gambled that if we continued to see a cool down in September, that I had done what I could to achieve harvest within the month of October. If we have a warm September, well then I have removed more young leaf tissue that would have transpired excess water and contributed to over-ripe phenolics. Heads I win, tails we call it a draw. If nothing else, in 30 days we will be "all-knowing." So, we got that going for us, and that's nice.

We are seeing a few birds, mostly in our neighbors' fields. I have 2 "Bird Gard" devices that replicate the sounds of birds of prey in a target rich environment and also the sounds of said meals being plucked from the sky. The mylar streamers we put out remind me of Christmas tinsel and it is nice to see the wind catching them when driving along the road. And of course, we are trapping yellow jackets at the rate 10 to the 7th power. Or about 10,000,000 cells per mil, if you are into that sort of thing.

The only issue I see at this point is the split berries.  As is typical, my favorite clone 114 seems to be showing the worst. The remainder of the field has some instances, but not significant. I am hopeful that the warm temperature and dry breezes will be of help. The main issue I can control is yellow jacket damage. As I mentioned above, we are "on it." If that fails, we will pull out "The Big Guns" - see attached:


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2007 July

Good day and welcome to August,

The strategy in the vineyard has been implemented and we now begin the long march to harvest under Mother Nature's watchful eye. I have heard tell that the valley is looking to experience an early year. All I know is that here on the farm, we are a bit cooler than last year at this point, and drier. Also in 2006, we spied the first PINK berries on August 2nd. No such luck this year.

We have recorded about 557 degree days for the month of July, providing a total of 1,054 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st . This compares with 590 degree days last July and comparative total of 1,246 degree days for 2006. In 2005 we had accumulated 1,062 degree days through the end of July.

During July, our highest high was 102.6 and our lowest high was 97.1. Our lowest low was 45.4 and our highest low was 49.0 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for July was 0.39 inches and was 0.21 inches over last July's rain of 0.18. Rainfall since April 1st through July 31st was 5.22 inches, and is 0.78 inches less than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 6.00 inches. So, we are 192 degree days short of last year and just under an inch less of rainfall.

While doing cluster weights, I am noticing random clusters with hens and chicks. I suspect this is due to the heat spike at the end of May followed by a couple weeks of cool damp weather. I have checked the smaller berries and found they contain a single seed, and it is hardening off. I will let you know when we start to see color change.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2007 June


This month has just flown by Why, it seems like just last week I was writing the May climate summary. Here is what June felt like if you lived in the vineyard (keep your head down when the hedger comes by.)

We have recorded about 303 degree days for the month of June, providing a total of 497 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1. This compares with 254 degree days last June and comparative total of 514 degree days. Year to date, the percentage difference (3.42%) is about equal to "the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle" or "the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet." I like mine with peaches.

During June, our highest high was 93.2 and our lowest high was 88.7. Our lowest low was 40.2 and our highest low was 42.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for June was 082 inches and was about 0.19 inches less than last June's rain of 1.01. Rainfall since April 1 through June 30th was 4.83 inches, and is 0.99 inches less than last year's Q2 accumulation of 5.82 inches. In other words, we are short about 27,000 gallons per acre from last year during this period, or about 11,400 cases worth.

Second wires are up and the shoots are clipped into place. We are now raising third wires, but I fear the race is lost to exponential growth we are seeing. I have hedging on my mind a little early this year, followed by leaf pull. I have rotated out of sulfur and into Flint for our first post bloom spray due to the Botrytis control. The rest of the season I will rotate with DMIs, other strobies and a blast of Quintec.

Fruit set is generally looking very good. I am seeing some clusters that are much more developed than others. I think bloom was impacted by warm weather at the end of May and then cool and somewhat damp weather during bloom. We could have some clusters ripen significantly earlier than others. This happened to our Dijon clone 114/5C in 2004. We had a shot of rain in late August and a significant portion of the berries split. Please see the enclosed graphs for the high, low and average temperatures during bloom.

These graphs show the high, low and average temperatures from June of this year and 2006 from the data logger most centrally located in the vineyard. The blue line is set at 75 degrees and the red line is at 50. Bloom began for us on June 5th in 2007 and June 8th in 2006.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: 2007 Flowers aka Bloom


I spotted our first Pinot Noir flowers as of June 5th. This is 3 days ahead of the 2006 growing season and about 10 days before the historical average of June 15th. Based on this information, I predict an above average harvest will occur here between September 15 and October 20.

This year, I used water shoots (aka suckers) to manage vigor during bloom. My intention was to achieve a reasonable set in all blocks. I began removing water shoots about 2 weeks ago in the least vigorous blocks and am finishing with the most vigorous blocks (10, 18 19 and 20) this week. I will report back set information in a couple weeks, after leaf pull.

The law of unintended consequences was also at work. By allowing water shoots to grow at the base of the vines, we had (in theory) less growth to manage in the canopy. I am not convinced shoot positioning was any easier or faster this year, but I believe there was less growth to position by allowing water shoots to divert excess vigor outside of the canopy. This may be an alternative to “kicker canes”, which I have found to be very difficult to manage in a VSP trellis.