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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2012 April

Hello and Welcome!

As previously noted, the first sign of harvest occurred on Monday, April 23rd, with the arrival of bud break. After the delayed, protracted and intolerably cold post-harvest season, it was widely rumored (aka common knowledge) the vines would take the year off. No such luck, they are back to test our mettle and taunt us for yet a 13th time here at Amalie Robert Estate. Here's to lucky 13!

The sign of new Spring growth is a welcome sight that replaces the dense ice fog that plagued much of the vines’ dormant season. Damn, it was cold. The vines were oblivious, much like the notion of rain to a fish. But the most important thing about bud break is that it gives the winegrower a sense of renewal. All of the farming "learning opportunities" from the prior vintage have been duly logged and process improvements have been devised. We begin the year anew, a little older and hopefully a little wiser, yet blissfully unaware of what dark forces wait to set upon us. We are confident only in knowing there are several.

Along with that uplifting Spring growth comes vineyard activities. The first of which is the annual ritual where Ernie hopes the tractor will start. This is usually followed by a parts run and then a changing of the battery. Ok, back up to square one. A quick bump of the key and a tap on the throttle brings the engine to life. The glorious sound of 4 turbocharged diesel cylinders spinning up to maximum torque fills the air! This is the equivalent of bud break for farm equipment.

Mowing the vineyard is the early season activity and it is quite a job. Ernie uses the crawler this time of year to avoid compaction in the vine rows. The concept here is that the soil has pores that hold water during the rainy season and air during the growing season. This soil condition is key to a healthy soil that is a microcosm unto itself.

By using the crawler, Ernie spreads the weight of the equipment along the entire surface of the two steel tracks as opposed to 4 tire contact points. This provides a lighter footprint that does not squeeze the water out of the pores in the soil. A wheel tractor will put all of the weight in 4 spots as it rolls through the vineyard. The soil will bear a heavier load and the pores will collapse causing compaction. The soil microbes and vine roots don't much care for that condition.

A well aerated soil provides a great place to conduct microbial activity. Agronomically speaking, a healthy soil is a hidden economy where each organism has a place and a purpose. New growth displaces dead matter that is converted into energy by the life forces in the soil. The vines utilize this resource for nutrients and water to produce fruit. As winegrowers, we replenish the soil with fresh green cover crops and mulched brown vineyard prunings from the prior year.

Each mowing pass, and there are several throughout the year, is a sweet little 37.5 mile ride @ about 2 miles per hour. If Ernie were to "play through" and not stop, he would wrap up in about 19 hours. Of course it never works out that way, so a better average time is about 1.5 miles per hour, yielding about 25 hours of elapsed time. But there are physical limits and you can only drive the crawler so fast. It can go faster, but not with you on it.

Sometimes he misses the showers and sometimes they will not be denied, but driving an open station crawler is the only way to appreciate the wonderful Springtime weather that passes by from time to time. The warmth of the sun on Ernie's face, a gentle breeze and the odd hailstone produces a nice fire engine red glow for the rest of the day. A reminder that it is time to find the sunscreen and a better hat.

Note the fully deployed yellow rain slicker Ernie wears to maximize his total immersion in this rich vineyard experience!

Here is a quick rundown of the numbers.

We have recorded about 52.89 degree days from April 1st through April 30th. All of this heat accumulation occurred in the second half of the month. We checked at April 15th, but we had nothing. We reached a high of 81.5 and a low of 31.9 with 3.12 inches of rain directed mostly at Ernie as he drove his crawler through the vineyard.

We accumulated NADA for degree days in April 2010. The high temperature was 80.50 and a low of 32.40 with 4.75 inches of rain scattered throughout the month.

So, we are a bit warmer than last year and the vines are sporting swanky new green shoots. So far, so good. Next up will be to incorporate (rototill) the Oats and Peas that were drilled in last fall. As this green matter is digested by the soil, it will release nutrients for the vines to grow the most spectacular vintage of Pinot Noir known to mankind. Not only is this great stewardship of the land, it also makes for a nice piece of dirt we call home.

Stewardship is key to saving the planet and you should be doing your part. We were recently reminded as to why this is SO important. Other than the obvious reason that we call Earth home, it is also the only planet that grows wine!

But we can suppose that if the other planets did grow wine, what would they grow? Ernie thinks Mars would most likely make a fine Viognier or Vino Verde that is served over dry ice. Dena thinks Venus would produce the most ethereal Chardonnay. Mercury would grow a firebrand Shiraz, and Pluto would be relegated to Rhubarb wine - it's a dog thing - with very little intergalactic export possibility.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, it looks like the rest of the month of May is going to be sunny, dry and stunningly beautiful. As you go outside and enjoy the sunny dry weather, consider taking a few moments to wet your plants. Especially the Rhodies…

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie