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, May 31, 2012

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2012 May

Hello and Welcome!

This is the climate update for May 2012. All in all, it has been a pretty good mix of rain, sun, clouds, wind and favorable working conditions in the vineyard. Par for the course, there were a couple of equipment “malfunctions” that required repairs including an adjustment of the loose nut behind the wheel. When preventive maintenance fails, the last tool in the toolbox is usually the right tool for percussive maintenance. Ah Janet, it’s springtime in the Willamette.

The vines are budded out with shoots that are about 12 to 18 inches and we have just finished their manicure. That is where we run down the length of their 4 foot cane and remove excess shoots that are spaced too closely together. The idea here is that if the shoots are too close together, the leaves and fruit will impede the sunlight and air circulation we need to properly ripen our fruit throughout the growing season. This congestion in the canopy will also make it easier for those nasty little mildew and botrytis spores to take hold - and that is completely unacceptable.

The next step for our 44,155 precocious little winemakers is to straighten their remaining shoots and clip catch wires around them. The purpose of the catch wires is to keep the shoots growing vertically through the trellis. It is a requirement of a VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioned) trellis system.
“What does this mean and why should I care?!”

Welcome to advanced canopy management for cool climate Pinot Noir (as if there is any other kind.) The primary design benefit of a VSP trellis system is to separate the shoots and expose the fruit clusters to sun and circulating air, in hopes no mildew will grow there.

The alternative is to not position those shoots vertically, but to let them flop down all over themselves. The result will be less sun exposure to develop flavors and aromas in the skins, and a damp environment around the leaves that will make the perfect home to a mildew epidemic.

As mildew grows it takes about 7 days to produce new spores that will infect new leaves. Once the fruit makes its debut on the scene, the mildew will attack the fruit and all will be lost. In other words, there will be no wine, just lots of whining - and that is completely unacceptable.

The vineyard floor is looking really nice. The permanent grass rows have been mowed down twice, with the last pass just before the rains. This is very fortuitous timing as the clippings will decompose faster, returning nutrients to the soil, which as you know, is the plant’s stomach.

Ernie has incorporated last year’s cover crop of Peas and Oats into the soil to be digested by all those little soil microbes. As the growing season progresses, all of that organic matter just decomposes right before our eyes. We see it again in the new green growth of the vines’ shoots and leaves. This is the circle of life, if you live in the soil.

Just as quick as you please, Ernie returned with his mighty (expensive) seed drill and installed his summer cover crop of Buckwheat and Vetch. The idea here is to fix nitrogen with the Vetch and for the Buckwheat to provide pollen protein for our carnivorous little beneficial insets if they run out of non-beneficial insects to eat. Love you guys!

Reminds Ernie of a photo he saw of a grizzly bear in Alaska with a rather large salmon hanging out of its mouth. The caption was “Are you the Salmon or are you the Bear?” And of course, until the final moment, how would you know?

Step into the Vineyard Vestibule and we will tell you that we have accumulated some heat units this month!

Wouldn’t be easy if we could just “cap and trade” heat units? We could dial in the “perfect” Wine Spectator vintage every year! Maybe the folks in Spain are just too hot and we could trade them some cool Willamette Valley breeze for a few days of hot, dry heat. That’s kind of what happens when vineyards turn on the irrigation – think about it.

OK, back to reality. Here are the numbers for the month of May 2012.

The month of May accumulated 196.32 degree days, had a high of 88.0 and a low of 31.7 with 2.92 inches of rain. This brings the 2012 growing season up to a very respectable 236.08 degree days from April 1 through May 31. We are significantly warmer than 2011’s heat accumulation of 37.61 degree days by nearly a factor of 10! Rainfall for the growing season is 6.04 inches, which is less than the 2011 ark building rains of 7.71 inches.

But there is more to the story. While we recorded a low temperature of 31.7, we did not see any frost damage. Other sites in the valley were not so lucky and have reported frost damage. This will not kill the vines; they are too tough for that. However, there is a very strong likelihood that there will be no fruit from the damaged shoots - no wine, just lots of whining.

As June unfolds, we will be scouting for the next sign of harvest – flowers. It is with this event in the vineyard we can begin to establish a harvest window. We like to see 105 days from flowers to harvest. Of course, we will take what we can get and not complain. Maybe just have a glass of wine.

Kindest regards,

Dena & Ernie