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, September 30, 2010

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2010 September

Hello and Welcome,

Well, it seems we may be harvesting these grapes for wine after all. Dena was starting to pick out packaging for about 65 tons of "Christmas Gifts."

September gave us a beautiful closer and now we turn our focus to October. The weather is just mostly something to talk about until it gets to about 30 days before harvest. The last 4 weeks are when the flavors and aromas develop in Pinot Noir skins. Oh sure, we are building sugars and dropping acids, but the real show is happening with the skins. This is by design.

The vine is continuing on its undeterred mission to frustrate winegrowers and then eventually ripen their seeds for wide dispersal. Until these seeds are ready to be consumed by unsuspecting birds, deer or other vermin (the vine is fairly indiscriminate in this relationship), the vine maintains a bit of tartness (acid) and is slow to produce the tantalizing aroma of ripe fruit. Note: Not all berries ripen at the same time, and the local population of birds are intuitively aware of this fact.

As we approach seed ripeness, these aroma compounds are developed and all harvest breaks loose! But the weather leading up to harvest substantially impacts the resulting wine aroma, flavor and body. Mother Nature seems to like a bit of this and that. For those who have visited over the summer and tasted the 2006 vintage next to the 2007 vintage, you don't need me to tell you she has a sense of humor.

Now, here is the rest of the story: It's her weather, but we decide when to harvest. The result will be the 2010 vintage. Of all the decisions you must get right in winegrowing, when to harvest is "the one." To keep all the harvest options on the table, you must take care of the vineyard all year long. Mess up with the vines, and you may have bunch rot (Botrytis) taking you out of the game. In other words you have to pick before the aromas have really developed, because if you don't, the fruit will just rot on the vine while you wait. Sum it up this way: "They are not ready, but they are only going to get worse."

The best case scenario is a well managed canopy that can handle a little this and that. The result is your harvest decisions are disciplined based on wine quality. Remember, we are growing wine here. For you MBA types out there (you know who you are), consider Mother Nature the "Program Manager" and we, the little people, are the "Project Managers." We schedule in harvest around the season fall rains, sunbursts and the occasional double rainbow. We grow Pinot Noir in the last best place. That's what we do.

Here is what you missed if you were not "present" in the Willamette Valley over the last month. We have recorded about 298 degree days for the month of September, providing a total of 1,562 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st. This compares with 405 degree days last September and a comparative total of 2,040 degree days for 2009. That is about a 20% shortfall.

During September, our highest high was a pleasant 92.5 and our lowest high was 88.0. Our lowest low was 41.7 and our highest low was 44.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainfall for September was 1.86 inches and was 0.73 inches above last September's rain of 1.13. Note this was one big event ending right around the 25th. Rainfall since April 1st through September 30th was 15.64 inches, and is 6.23 inches greater than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 9.41 inches.

Now, you may be asking yourself where all this rain goes. There are only three places it can go. The first step was to saturate the soils. From there a portion went to the ton of cover crop seeds Ernie drilled into the field at the beginning of the month. Of course the permanent grass rows took their "fair share" and lastly the vines got in on the action. So was it too much?

One way to answer this question is to see if any of the berries split from taking up excess moisture. If this happens it is "really bad" (another technical farming term.) It is bad because not only have you just lost that berry, bunch rot can now start to grow due to the exposed juice. Left to grow under warm conditions for a few days, it will compromise the entire cluster. The seeds however, will still be viable. 15-Love, advantage Mother Nature.

Another way to look at this is dilution of the juice if the berry does not split. The surface area of the berry contains only so much of the wonderful aroma compounds we are looking for. By the berry swelling up, we are diluting that concentration of "good stuff" (a technical winemaking term.) Extended cellar aging (12 - 18 months) may reduce this dilution due to evaporation of water.

So, we go back to the weather report and take comfort in knowing we have done all we can to care for the vines again this year. The first couple weeks of October are forecast to be dry, warm and mildly breezy. I see a harvest window approaching around the 12th. We are not out of the woods yet.

Kindest Regards,