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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2008 September

Hello and Welcome,

September gave us a chance to rest, a "7th inning stretch" if you like.

October, it seems, will be more "interesting", and so it should be. For example, when I look out into the vineyard, it seems like it"...gets late early out there."

Here are the numbers. We logged 414 degree days (276 through the 15th and an additional 138 through the end of the month.) This brings us to a cool climate viticulture total of 1,896 degree days for the growing season. Clearly with fruit in the field, "It ain't over 'til its over."

This is theoretically insignificant from the 2007 degree days of 1,891. But, as we all know, "...there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

The rainfall was a scant 0.67 inches and was timed perfectly just 24 hours after all of my cover crop was drilled in. However, I am tempered by the sentiment that "if the world were perfect, it wouldn't be."

I sampled the one cluster that was representative of the remaining 500,000 on Wednesday September 31, and it was 21.8 Brix and 3.37 ph. I asked Carl if the fruit looked good, and he told me it was as good " the day is long." Hopefully we did not make "...too many wrong mistakes" this year.

This just in from Patty Skinkis regarding CO2 assimilation in the vineyard. If she has the time to run this over the next few years, we may find "The future ain't what it used to be." Thanks Patty!!!



... I finally got around to looking at the assimilation rate of a full canopy during a mid-summer day.

The location we used had the following information:

PN 115 on 101-14 at 5' x 7' spacing

Date of data collection: 7/30/08

Air temp:  26.09 deg C

Results are from 90 readings taken throughout a treatment block:

CO2 assimilation rate = 20 umols/m2/s

Average canopy leaf area = 4.51 m2/vine

Assuming that the highest sunlight hours are from 10-2 pm where this rate would be applicable, then a single vine would assimilate 288000 umol CO2 during that time or 0.288 mol CO2.

We see assimilation rates going down from our sampling date of 7/30 to 9/11 as follows: 

7/30/08  air temp 26.09 deg, assimilation rate = 20 umol CO2/m2/s

9/11/08  air temp 27.83 deg C, assimilation rate = 14.6 umol CO2/m2/s


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2008 August

Hello and Welcome,

Well, it seems that all the vineyard work is done, and what's left is the hard part - waiting. So, let's have a look at August, shall we?

We have recorded about 488 degree days for the month of August, providing a total of 1,481 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st.  This compares with 442 degree days last August and a comparative total of 1,496 degree days for 2007. Looks like Déjà vu all over again.

During August, our highest high was 104.3 and our lowest high was 95.5. Our lowest low was 44.7 and our highest low was 47.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for August was 1.70 inches and was 0.92 inches above last August's rain of 0.78. Rainfall since April 1st through August 30th was 4.43 inches, and is 0.01 inches less than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 4.44 inches.

So, we are 15 degree days short of last year and missing about 27.5 gallons of water per acre - ceteris paribus. Here is a quick look at our degree days through August 27: (2008: 1,481; 2007: 1,495; 2006: 1,748; 2005: 1,629; 2004: 1,825; 2003: 1,908.) The graphing is an exercise left to the reader, but it seems to me, we are getting cooler.  

The key activities in the vineyard this month were hedging and spraying. I chose to take a 4th hedging pass in some of the cooler corners of the vineyard, as I was seeing too much new growth and active shoot tips. The spray program was modified to include Botrytis sprays at all key intervals. The Buckwheat cover crop is continuing to grow and reseed itself in the rows. It seems the Vetch was a no-show this year. Perhaps due to lack of soil moisture?

We have significant color change with most blocks showing over 50% color. As always there are a few blocks that keep the harvest window open a little longer. These are the blocks with special needs and we give them special care, and so do the birds... We are thinning down to one cluster per shoot in most blocks, depending on fruit set. Wings are the last to come off and act as shock absorbers to the rainfall.

Looking to the future, the first 2 weeks of September are supposed to be picture perfect. Although hoping is not a strategy, I am hopeful that the remaining weeks until harvest will give us another outstanding vintage. At least the vintage of the year.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2008 July


We now leave July behind us and are looking through August's lens into September. Looks good to me and here is why.

In response to the cool growing conditions year to date, I spent a little more quality time (and a lot of just "tractor" time) with the hedger this year. Our vines seemed to show more apical dominance with the end shoots past the third set of wires and the remaining 90% of the shoots stuck somewhere between the tendril wire and second set of catch wires.

The first hedge removed those shoot tips that were suppressing the growth of the remaining shoot tips, and they got the message. The remaining shoots took about a week to reach the third set of wires. That is when I went for my second hedging pass. The goal was to remove as many shoot tips (not more leaves) as quickly as possible to redirect the vines energy to the clusters. After two more weeks, I completed the third and final hedge.

Fruit set is a bit lighter than last year. While doing cluster weights, I noticed a bit of stem necrosis in blocks that typically do not show excess vigor. Perhaps a result of cool bloom weather? However there is plenty of fruit to be sure, and we will begin thinning in earnest next week. The season has been fairly dry here and the disease pressure has been kept in check. I have adjusted my spray program in anticipation of mid to late October harvest.

"Enough pontification, where are the facts?"

We have recorded about 531 degree days for the month of July, providing a total of 993 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st.  This compares with 557 degree days last July and comparative total of 1,054 degree days for 2007. In 2006 we had accumulated 1,246 degree days through the end of July.

During July, our highest high was 97.9 and our lowest high was 93.2. Our lowest low was 44.7 and our highest low was 46.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for July was 0.03 inches and was 0.36 inches below last July's rain of 0.39. Rainfall since April 1st through July 31st was 2.73 inches, and is 2.49 inches less than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 5.22 inches. So, we are 61 degree days short of last year and missing about 67,613 gallons of water per acre. 

For more information on water in the ethanol process here is what appears to be a Pro Ethanol website. I am not advocating it as good or bad, just that it is.  Interesting that an acre of corn releases ~ 4,000 gallons of water per acre per day. Clearly, it makes a difference to the "net energy produced" if you have to irrigate the corn or if Mother Nature handles that.

I am curious about our transpiration rate per cubic foot of canopy. Clearly in a dry-farmed, hillside vineyard it can't be any more than the rainfall amount. Any takers for that question? I checked here, but no joy.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: 2008 Flowers aka Bloom


I wanted to let everyone know that we in fact do have flowers in the vineyard this year. I spotted the first flowers of the year on June 21, in the Wadenswil clone Pinot Noir. This is certainly behind the historical average of June 15, and about 2 weeks later than 2007.  The weather forecast is looking to be warm to very warm over the next 10 days. Hopefully this will result in a bountiful fruit set, that we can ripen within a reasonable harvest window.

To this point in the growing season, I think the conditions have favored Powdery Mildew. If the weather continues to be warm and muggy, we may have elevated risk of not only Powdery Mildew, but also Botrytis. We are continuing with Sulfur applications every 7 days. Toward the end of bloom, we will tank mix sulfur with a product such as Flint, Pristine, or Scala to provide control of both pathogens.

Our first set of catch wires are up and clipped into place. We have begun removing suckers from our least vigorous and coolest blocks. The attempted mutiny by the Wild Garlic has been put down. Last year’s report is below for comparison.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2008 May


This is the climate update for the month of May 2008.

We have (finally) recorded about 206 degree days from April 1 through May 31. This is within tolerance (read "sampling error") of the 194 degree days recorded during the same period in 2007 and a bit short (like 30%) of the 259 degree days from 2006. However, I do not see any impairment to wine quality at this point. Unless you factor in the Euro, but more on "politi-nomics" another time.

During May, our highest high was 102.60 and our lowest high was 97.10. Our lowest low was 35.70 and our highest low was 38.70 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for May was a quick 0.23 inches and was about 0.88 inches less than last May's rainfall of 1.10 inches. Year-to-date rainfall is 17.23 inches compared to last year's 16.32 inches.

We began Bud Break in the Pinot Noir on or about 3 pm, Monday, May 5, 2008. We observed the 2007 Pinot Noir break bud on Thursday, April 5 which, agriculturally speaking, is "nearly exactly" two weeks ahead of the 2006 Pinot Noir bud break of April 19. The 2005 Pinot Noir bud break was March 15.

Our first sulfur spray was the last week of May. Doubles have been thinned, but the catch wires remain on the vineyard floor with the resilient, but slowly dying Wild Garlic. A quick note to those of you looking for a nice herbicide spray that will knock back your weeds and suckers, try Rely. Look for the new and improved "Rely 200" with lower use rates.

My summer cover crop is Buckwheat and Vetch.


It has recently come to my attention that someone's winemaking career now spans 3 decades - that's 210 dog years. At this time, I would like to point out that there is a difference between 30 years of experience and 1 year of experience 30 times. Congratulations Steve - Very Nicely Done!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2008 April


This is the climate update for the month of April, 2008. The Spring of 2008 has been cold, or maybe I just need a better hat.

We have accumulated 1.83 inches of rain since the 1st of April and that is 1.08 inches less than the same period in 2007. Q1 2008 rainfall was 15.24 inches and was 2.93 inches more than the 12.31 inches of rain for Q1 2007. The historical 30 year average for Q1 is 19.72 inches of rain, or 536,384 gallons per acre. Also, based on this historical average, we can expect Q2 to provide about 5.91 inches of rain, +/- 5.91 inches of rain.

We have not recorded any degree days this month. Our highest high was 80.90 and our lowest high was 76.70. Our lowest low was 27.60 and our highest low was 29.30 degrees Fahrenheit. For comparison, we did not record any degree days for April 2007; about 25 degree days for April 2006 and 49 degree days for April 2005.

The vineyard floor has been chisel plowed and rotovated in alternate rows and an early Round-up spray was applied in alternate rows. Note to self - replacement chisel plow springs are about $32.80, each plus s/h.

We experienced bud break in the Chardonnay on April 28, and it was the only variety brazen enough to do so. As they say, "he, who travels fastest, travels alone."

Once again, we appear "on-track" for the vintage of the century