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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Monday, August 31, 2009

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2009 August

Hello and Welcome,

This is the climate update for August 2009.

All in all, I must say 2009 has been a pretty nice year. The vineyard still looks very green and healthy, the summer cover crops have contributed their all and are now resting below an inch or so of tilled soil, and the weather has been fairly moderate. I will drill in some Oats and Field Peas between the rows and that should put the vineyard floor in good stead for a well deserved winter rest.

Here is what I know for sure, as much as you can know anything for sure in agriculture. We have recorded about 534 degree days for the month of August, providing a total of 1,634 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st. This compares with 448 degree days last August and a comparative total of 1,481 degree days for 2008. Tack on another 300 for September, and we are in striking distance.

During August, our highest high was 103.4 and our lowest high was 100.2. Our lowest low was 45.4 and our highest low was 47.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for August was 0.35 inches and was 1.35 inches below last August's rain of 1.70. Rainfall since April 1st through August 30th was 8.28 inches, and is 3.85 inches greater than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 4.43 inches.

Regarding last month's question: Do the clusters at the end of the vine make better wine than the clusters toward the head? The answer is the best wine is made from the clusters that make it to the winery! Since we can never really know for sure, here are some thoughts on the subject:

  • As long as the vine is healthy, the cane is not too long and not overburdened, then the fruit should be relatively uniform along the cane. If any of these conditions are degraded, the fruit in the center of the cane may have lower quality.

  • The fruit at the end of the cane is typically better quality due to the vine's natural growth habit. The end shoots typically are more vigorous as they are looking to climb - they are vines after all. This means the end shoots are drawing greater energy from the vine in hopes for growing into an ideal location to produce fruit (aka ripen seeds.) The clusters on these end shoots are the beneficiaries of the increased vascular tissue activity.

  • Another view is that we want to space the fruit out along the cane. Early in the year this can be done by cutting large clusters in half. The result is the top half of the cluster remains on the vine and the clusters are evenly spread across the cane. I think this is easier to do with large clustered varieties such as Dolcetto or Syrah.

Also, whatever clusters remain, removal of the wings or "fruiting tendrils" may improve wine quality. This is due to the notion that wings flower about a week after the main cluster. The wing is Mother Nature's back-up plan in case of bad weather during the critical bloom stage. This means the wing needs an extra week or so to ripen. However, the cluster will be harvested long before the grapes on the wing fully develop flavor and aroma.

So, there we have it.

As I sit at my desk writing, I can see that the nearly inch of rain we just received is followed by a strong breeze and partly sunny skies. The forecast is for warm dry days and cool nights. Perhaps the wind is at our backs and the sun is warming our faces - it could be worse. Here is a link to a weather page that is no worse than any I have found:
September is the time of reflection on the year's events that have shaped this vintage. We look forward to September's sunny days and cool nights when Mother Nature puts her finishing touches on the vintage. Of course, we are doing our part by thinning off excess crop and late ripening wings.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: 2009 August Veraison


We will have the little pink berries again this year. They will emerge alone and unafraid in Block 14 (Pommard on Schwarzmann rootstock), which is now being expertly manicured for Mr. Etzel, on August 6, 2009. Congratulations Mike!

Some have suggested the harvest of the year will come early, and for some I am sure this is true. However, every time I am tempted by these "false choices", I remember that Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special where he is falsely coerced into kicking the football. I think this is also called "marketing."

He knows it is the wrong choice, however he is pressured into thinking about the glory to be his when he kicks that football. Not to plagiarize here, but he seems to have the audacity of hope. Alas, it is not to be. Fortunately, he is not seriously injured and returns in a few weeks time with a Christmas Tree, but that is indeed another story.

Personally, I know that I will be harvesting Syrah and Viognier at the last possible moment - in NOVEMBER - with the birds. So if anyone is ready to go early, I will be happy to accommodate.

In the mean time we will build sugars, ripen seeds and begin respiring malic acid.