Introduction

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!

Rusty

"This is one of the Willamette Valley’s most distinguished wineries, but not one that is widely known."

- Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile - September 2016

Josh

"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

David

"...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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2012 July

Hello and Welcome,
This is the climate update for the month of July 2012.


“Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Looking back on the ¡Salud! Pinot Noir auction and how we got started growing wine. Speaking of which, that event is coming around again this November 9th and 10th. You can learn about the mission and how to secure your Amalie Robert Estate ¡Salud! Cuvee here: http://www.saludauction.org


July has been a really nice month for farmers who farm wine. We started with some very warm and sunny days. The vines picked up on the increased warmth and tapped into their reserve of soil moisture to put up some impressive growth. Good for them. Our job was to harness that growth and put catch wires around it. Not so good for us.


This struggle for control lasts a couple of weeks and the vineyard begins to resemble an overgrown jungle. However, we have seen this before and know what to do – ROADTRIP!


Wait a minute, that’s not it. Ernie pulls out the hedger, that’s what he does. The vines seem to sense this and push even more growth, that’s what they do. Yes, this piece of equipment gets quite a work-out every year. Notice how Ernie has the flail mower hooked up behind the hedger so he can “sweep up as he goes along.” Now that’s farming! We wouldn’t say the hedger has paid for itself, because that is not what farmers say. They say things like, “Well, that looks like a piece of grit to me.”

The hedger turns chaos back into order. We like to hedge a pretty big canopy. We are strong believers in leaves. The past few vintages have been fairly cool here in the Willamette Valley and having more leaf surface is certainly an advantage in achieving ripeness. This point is made in mid to late September through October when the temperatures are slow to warm up. Cool conditions mean that there is very little time for the leaves to create and export energy to the rest of the vine. So, we plan for this and make sure we maximize our leaf surface area. And it looks nice, too.


We end up hedging the top of the shoots back down to a height of about 90 inches. By design, this is the width of the rows in the vineyard. The growth starts at what we call the fruiting wire, which is at 30 inches, and gives us a 60 inch “solar array” to harvest sunlight. Because that is what farmers do, we harvest sunlight. Actually the vines do the harvesting this time of year. If all ends well, we will be back in October for a little “cluster pluck” of our own.







Right now we are plucking just a few leaves in the fruit zone to expose the developing berries to the morning sun. This part of the canopy management is often overlooked in how important it is in shaping the flavor and aroma profile in the skins. If we pull too many leaves on our Pinot Noir and we see a nice hot August the fruit can develop an almost Syrah like intensity. Of course we want that in our Syrah. Viognier, however, will sunburn like an Irishman in Portugal, so we leave all of those leaves on.


Leaf plucking is the beginning of winemaking in the vineyard. This is when we look for a rift in the time/space continuum to see what the month of August and September will bring. We don’t have ground hogs in Oregon, so we have to go hi-tech.


If we see a dismal, cool growing season we may be inclined to remove a few more leaves. But if we see a repeat of 2003 when we could have ripened Zinfandel, then we are inclined to leave a few more leaves to shade the fruit.


Among all of the “most important” things we need to get right, sun development in the skins and the fermentation temperature that extracts those flavors and aromas are key to the style of wine we produce. Did we mention that leaf plucking in Burgundy is not such a big deal? Hmm…


Well, it is about time to look at the farming numbers.


We have recorded about 449 degree days for the month of July, providing a total of 929 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st. This compares with 381 degree days last July and a comparative total of 689 degree days for 2011. During July, our highest high was 90.9 and our lowest low was 43.9 degrees Fahrenheit.


We received no measurable precipitation for the month of July. July 2011 brought the gift of 1.02 inches of rain. Rainfall from April 1st through July 31st was 8.96, and is 0.40 inches less than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 9.39 inches. Timing is everything.


The trend seems to be warmer and drier than last year. Hard to believe it could be wetter and colder, though as we now know, anything is possible. Mother Nature, not very reliable but somewhat predictable, seems to be turning on her charm.


Next up on the Julian calendar is Lag Phase. This is the time in the berries’ development when we can predict final harvest weights. Of course they will be wrong, but they are usually close enough. Once we know how much fruit we are hanging, we can go back to the vine and thin off a few clusters to get us where we need to be. Being where you need to be when you need to be there. That’s the secret to a happy farmer and catching your flight home.


Kindest Regards,


Dena & Ernie