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, May 31, 2011

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2011 April & May

Hello and Welcome!

This is the combined climate update for April and May 2011.

Well if you live here in Ecotopia, you know April and May have just been intolerable. If you live somewhere other than here, we hope you have been enjoying the Spring and early Summer. We have had several "grumpy farmer days" and are still awaiting ours.

But looking out into the vineyard today as I write this, I am encouraged to persevere. I see a beautifully sunny blue sky with a temperature all the way up to 53 degrees! The vines have sauntered out of there long winters nap and have begun the task of creating new shoots and leaves. Each morning they await the warm embrace of sunrise. That is because, unlike the rest of us, they don't drink coffee.

In farming the one thing we can count on is not being able to count on the weather. But we formulate our plans and strategies hoping for the best and expecting the worse. As someone once said "Cheer up it could be worse. So I cheered up and it got worse."

The early season vineyard work primarily consists of getting the vines ready for their big day - Bud Break. Ernie does the cover crop recycling every year to provide nourishment for our vines. The vines themselves also need a bit of cleaning up. The specific tasks are pruning back last year's growth and tying the remaining canes down to the fruiting wire, which by the way, is a clean 30 inches above grade.

This is important to know when calculating the cubic foot capacity of our "solar leaf array." In cool growing seasons, like all of them since 2006, we don't ask a lot from our canopy, we require it! Think about the futuristic film the Matrix, where humans are referred to as batteries i.e. "Copper Tops." They are a power source used to serve a machine controlled planet. You can also think taxpayers and government, but I digress.

Right. So each leaf on a vine is a contributor of energy to that vine's ultimate purpose - to reproduce by ripening grape seeds. The more leaves that are exposed to what little sunshine we receive increase the energy available to the vine. During the day, the leaves create and store energy as the plant can only translocate it out of the leaves slowly. However, this is temperature dependent. Below 50 degrees, the plants vascular system does very little translocation of energy from the leaves to the vine. This means that when it is cold at night, or during the day, the vine cannot fully "discharge" the leaves. The result is the next morning the leaves have a diminished capacity to create energy from the photosynthesis because they have no more storage capacity. The concept is similar to drinking beer at a BBQ (only so much storage capacity,) which is an exercise we leave to the reader.

The teachable moment here, (actually 4 years worth) is that we want as many exposed leaves as we can grow. This is the primer for the advanced, hands-on canopy management course here this Summer. We also are taking up loads of CO2 which makes everyone happy. So are we behind, and if so, what does that mean to the 2010 vintage wine quality?

Well let's look into the vineyard for that answer. We declared Bud Break on May 5th this year. Does anyone know another vintage that was declared so late? How about 2008? That's right! We declared bud Break on May 5th in 2008. The press loves the 2008s so we've got that going for us, and that is nice. Another pertinent fact is that we finished harvesting our Pinot Noir on October 31 in 2008, and it was a beautiful day.

Now, let's look at the numbers, such as they are.

We have recorded about 37.61 degree days from April 1 through May 31. This is about on track for 2010 when we recorded 85 degree days, but significantly less than the 200+/- degree days for the same period in 2007 thru 2009. Rainfall for the 2 month period was 7.71 inches compared with 7.96 inches in 2010. A "Dog Nose" kind of Spring - cold and wet.

The month of April accumulated ZERO degree days, had a high of 80.5 and a low of 32.4 with 4.75 inches of rain scattered throughout the month. The average monthly humidity was 75.31% and the average dew point was 38.62 degrees. Yeah, Ernie got a new weather station for Christmas.

The month of May accumulated 37.61 degree days, had a high of 77.6 and a low of 35.3 with 2.96 inches of the liquid form of sunshine. The average monthly humidity was 72.97% and the average dew point was 43.24 degrees. It looks dryer and warmer than April, but it didn't feel that way.

We are counting the days as we await bloom and (hopefully) an economically viable fruit set. For once we see bloom, we can lock in all of our fears for a protracted and potentially devastating media portrayal of our harvest. We need 105 days from bloom through harvest to achieve nice Oregon flavors and aromas in our Estate Grown wines. Once bloom happens, we feel a call to action and a sense or urgency that will focus the mind and create a natural prioritization of events. We also mark the calendar and imagine the most beautiful month of October that we can.

All the best,


Friday, May 6, 2011

Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: 2011 May Bud Break

Hello and Welcome to the 2011 growing season!

Amalie Robert Estate declared Bud Break on May 5, 2011. This is day 125 on the Julian calendar and is as late as we have seen in the Willamette Valley.

But let's put this in context before someone declares this the worst vintage in history. After the 2007 dust-up, everyone knows who that might be.

Bud Break is the first visible sign that the wines are waking up. The next step is for the vines to grow shoots, then flower, pollinate and set fruit.

From such humble beginnings, we want to harvest mature and healthy grapes after sharing a small portion with the birds. We know we will begin harvest about 105 days after the vines flower and set fruit. But when will they flower?

Let's draw a parallel from the vines yearly cycle to our own daily lives.

Waking up on Monday morning and getting to work is something most of us have done, at least once in our lives. The time we spend from the moment the alarm goes off, until we get in the car varies day by day. We respond to the issues at hand like no hot water, or being out of coffee. But once we get in the car, we usually have a route that gets us to work within a fairly constant span of time.

Think of the vines as just waking up. They are responding to this year's weather patterns and have not yet gotten to the work of putting up shoots and flowers. Once they do flower however, we know to add 105 days for a potential harvest window.

What we do not know is how long the vines need to get their flowers on. At least we know what we don't know. So, let's give the vines a chance to actually get to work before we start docking their pay, and knocking the vintage.

Kindest Regards,

Dena and Ernie