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

Copyright

© 2005 – 2017 Amalie Robert Estate, LLC

Friday, November 15, 2013

Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: 2013 Harvest After Action Report (AAR)

Hello and Welcome,

This is the 2013 Harvest After Action Report (AAR.)

Consciousness slowly permeates the psyche hovering precariously above a cup of predawn, harvest morning accelerant. Ernie’s lenses are holding heavy condensation, his brain the fog. “This is All Fogged Up!” Consciousness achieved at “O‘Dark Thirty” – Check! You know you are in for a long day when your first chore in the morning is to get out there and lift the fog.

And so it was. Fog or not, harvest began the morning of October 4, 2013. And despite what you may have heard, it was a lovely morning. The tractors started, the tires on the trailers were not flat, the crew arrived and we picked some grapes. Oh, did we pick some grapes.

The road to harvest 2013 was just as eventful as any we can remember, and we have been at this since the turn of the century. Overall, the summer was nice and the humans were really enjoying it. The vines were more on a collision course with high sugars and potentially overcooked flavors. We tried to reign in the vintage by hedging a short canopy that would deny the vines more photosynthetic activity than they needed. We also kept a tight trim on the grassed rows to preserve soil moisture for later into the season. Little did we know… Check out Ernie’s new flail mower – it swings both ways!



  

But we can only dance to the tune we are given, and to be brutally honest it is hard to dance in size 12 steel toed, waterproof work boots. It is not a pretty sight. So we hurtle along to harvest with everyone else, hoping for the best and planning for the worst. Generally speaking, this is known as farming.

Life really is about 80% just showing up to work every day. The other 20% of it is doing the right thing at the right time once you get there. And the key to knowing what that is comes from experience, which is what you get when you don’t get what you want. Farming: Can’t win, can’t quit, can’t break even. But it’s all good, mostly, and some of it is even farmin’ great! (Bert, that’s for you. Best of luck to you in your own personal, potential, agrarian endeavor.)

As farmers, one of the things we are keen to learn early in the year is when we think we will be harvesting. We determine this with Pinot Noir by recording when the vines flower and adding 105 days for the resulting wineberries to mature. That gives us an idea of what kind of harvest we will be looking at. Late harvests like 2011 when we started on October 23rd mean we will be out there late in October and November. We will have a harvest all right; Right after all of the birds, rain and resulting rot.

In 2013 the numbers said we should start harvest around September 19th. HA! Even the rules based, computer science, CPA numbers guy knew that was not going to happen. But it could have, except for the fact we were both out on the road selling wine through September 22nd.

The 2013 growing season was barreling down on us like 2003. It was warm at night and got hot during the day. The vines did not skip a beat and kept building sugars – that’s what they do. The hotter it gets, up to just about 100 degrees, the faster they go. And warm nighttime temperatures simply exacerbate the issue. That moves all of the photosynthetic energy stored in the leaf around the vine at night resulting in faster ripening. That is like hitting the afterburners and the surest way to speed up sugar accumulation, while it does nothing for advancing aroma and flavor development. And we don’t want that. That is what Zinfandel is for.

Balance in the vineyard gets a lot of airtime, mostly hot airtime. For us, balance in the vineyard means we can archive great aroma and flavor development in the wineberry skins before we achieve excessive sugars resulting in high alcohols. We have a few tools at our disposal as mentioned above, but nothing even comes close to Mother Nature’s repertoire.

We would like to take a moment now to introduce you to Typhoon Pabuk. This was a late breaking development toward the end of September that caught the weather guessers out. As everyone was planning an early harvest before sugar accumulations meant port style wines, Typhoon Pabuk was headed to Japan to rain on their parade. But they would have none of it. So all dressed up with nowhere to blow, Typhoon Pabuk heads for a beer in Portland and brings over 9 inches of rain along for good measure. Note: It was Woody Allen that said “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”



This is all fogged up! That was the day before Typhoon Pabuk started showering us with a significant amount of the Pacific Ocean. Of course we looked for some blocks to harvest before the rains, but it was not to be. The sugars were certainly in the zone, but the seeds were still green, the skins tasted like unripe bananas and the pulp around the seeds was still firm. We thought you could make alcohol from this fruit, but not great wine. We waited for optimal fruit ripeness before we harvested and that meant riding the storm out. Please note, optimal is a relative term but it is site and vintage specific. Some people, they say, were ready before the rains. Lucky, lucky bastards!


By now the estimated harvest date was a distant memory. The naïve notion that we would have a low stress, enjoyable day of harvesting wonderfully delectable fruit at our leisure begged for life. Well, there was clearly only one response to that notion: NO FARMING WAY!

If you grew up in a rural area where cattle were raised, you will understand this reference: “It was like a cow standing over a flat rock!” If you were more of an urbanite, you may better relate to this: “It was like trying to get a drink from a fire hose!” If you were growing Pinot Noir in the North Willamette Valley you were saying things that can not be printed in this space.

There was plenty of time to consider past vintages and the vagaries that surrounded them. Comments that referenced how “fun and easy” 2007 was, and that the wines have now handsomely rewarded cellaring.

How 2008 was a repeat of 2007 until the last 3 weeks when the sun came out and, with cool temperatures, really saved our acids. Nice wines at this point in history.

Why 2009 didn’t seem ripe at the time, but has developed into a very expressive wine showing perhaps a bit more leg than is completely necessary.

Vintage 2010 and Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” will soon be referred to as synonyms on Wikipedia. We saw 3,600 bottles worth of wine leave the vineyard by wing.

There is a very special place in every winegrower’s heart for 2011. The latest vintage on record and a bitterly cold end of the season left many with an uncontrollable physical reaction of a middle digit to the vintage. The best of this vintage will most certainly outlive those who grew it. (Note: This is using the FISH inventory accounting method – First In Still Here.)

Could 2012 be the gift we have so tiredly toiled for? The wines, while still in barrel, show all the components to be there. The only thing missing is time. Don’t you just hate that?

All good things must come to an end and for us that meant the Pacific Ocean stopped falling out of the sky on October 2nd. However this is not true with bad things. We could have been visited by the ghost of vintage 2007 past and had the rain continue for another week – or more. And then throw in the 2010 voracious bird activity with 2011 harvest operations starting on October 23rd and that would have been really farming bad. Instead, we just got the bird activity and some late harvest.

So we waited for the soil to dry up a bit for tractor and human safety and we commenced harvest operations on October 4th, just 15 days later than our estimate – pretty farming close. It took an entire day for the birds to find the first easy pickin’s and 30 vines were denuded. They work on fish and they work on birds, so we rolled out the nets. However we lost all the Wadenswil in block 35, a high elevation block near the forest. The netting budget is doubling next year.

We prepare a “Harvest Target Package” for each day of harvest to outline what blocks are picked in what order. We are looking for the optimal time to take the wineberries from each block that represents a specific clone to rootstock combination. The birds must have a mole in the operations somewhere, most likely turned by the rabbit who hangs out with the quail in block 2. Because every where we go to start harvest the birds are already there. No matter, we endeavor to persevere.

As you most likely know, white wines from this vintage will be in short supply. Ernie likes to say that when some guy in Tokyo sneezes, we get rot in our Chardonnay. Well, imagine everyone in China, Japan and all of Eurasia sneezing and that was Typhoon Pabuk. We were able to take enough clean, optimally ripe fruit to ferment the Heirloom Cameo and a very limited amount of Her Silhouette this year. The rest was a lost cause to Botrytis.


The great thing about harvest 2013 was the weather. Once Typhoon Pabuk blew out of town, the weather improved substantially. First off it was dry, the sun was out most of the time and we had cool breezes. This held through about the 15th of the month which is when we finished up everything but the Syrah and Viognier. With the exception of the Chardonnay, the fruit was remarkably clean. There was apparently some black mold making its way through the valley, but it didn’t seem to find us. The deer, however, did and we enjoyed their company one morning during harvest. We say enjoy because they did not fit the definition of a problem. To wit: a problem is something that annoys you AND that you can do something about. We couldn’t do anything about the deer eating our Pinot Noir, so we “enjoyed” them. However, we do have friends in high places.

The Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier came in beautifully. The dried and desiccated berries got pumped up with the rains but miraculously did not split. The net result was more hang time and aroma flavor development. The first fruit to come in registered around 21 brix and toward the end of harvest we were seeing 24 brix Pinot Noir providing 12.5% to 13.5% alcohols. The seeds were brown and the flavors were there. Not so bad after all, eh?

We held the Syrah and Viognier until it looked like it was going back to full on rain mode. We took the miniscule amount of Viognier a few days before the Halloween pick of Syrah.

We fermented the 13 gallons of Viognier in a tall beer keg this year. This means you will have to arm wrestle Ernie for each and every bottle. Unless you are on the A-List. Then you will have to arm wrestle Dena instead. We anticipate about 5 cases produced and 4 cases bottled.

The Syrah had a bit of Botrytis, something we generally look for, but do not see. That meant a fair bit of sorting, cluster by cluster and berry by berry to insure we had a clean fermenter. And that is all there was this year, just one fermenter, enough for 2 barrels.

Overall our yields were a bit low at about 55 tons of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier Syrah and Viognier from 30 acres. Without the gift from the Typhoon Pabuk, we could have easily seen the yields lowered another 20 to 40% with potential alcohols in the range for Grappa! Well, who knew that all of that rain could actually improve the vintage?

Chardonnay is the most popular wine on the planet and in 2013 three ways is how we have it. But do you recall, the most famous sweet wines of all? That’s right Sauternes fans, we have a Botrytis Chardonnay in 2013. After all the Pinot Noir was picked, we went out to see just what we could have done differently in growing our Chardonnay. We concluded the only thing would have been to pick it under ripe.

Well, you win some, you lose some and some get Botryotinia Fuckeliana. And that’s what we got! The rains got the infection started, but the dry weather afterwards kept it in check, and the little fungal spores worked their Noble Rot magic. Seventy buckets of naturally desiccated Chardonnay grapes yielded about 70 gallons of juice – the hard way. The sorting here was berry by berry. While we had mostly Botryotinia Fuckeliana, we also had plain old rot. So we sorted the Plebian from the Noble.

This is unchartered territory for Ernie (so what’s new?) so he asked (OK, that’s new!) the only person he thought would know how to handle this kind of fruit – Dick Erath. As “Conspiring Winemaker,” Dick shared his thoughts and experience as well as an exemplar of his efforts with a Late Harvest Riesling from 1997. Ernie opened several other late harvest wines as “learning opportunities” but after all of the R&D, the balance of Dick’s 1997 Late Harvest Relishing won the day.

The juice was something you just had to experience to believe. After whole berry pressing the raisined fruit, the juice read 43.4 Brix. We had to rack that from the fermentation floor down to the tank room. The juice was so viscous it was like moving honey. The aromas and flavors were of grilled pineapple and yellow roses with a big hit of funky. We will most likely account for this wine using the FISH inventory method.

At the time of this writing our red fermentations are just finishing up. We typically need about 4 weeks in these fermenters to go from optimal fruit to fermented wine as we do not add commercial yeast. Instead we rely on Amalie Robert Estate grown yeast and about 25% whole clusters and it makes all the difference in what you smell and more importantly what you don’t.

You won’t smell any of that commercially produced, cultured, dry yeast. You will smell the yeast grown right here on the little wineberries that provides a unique aroma profile to our wines. You can read about commercial yeast aroma properties here. And then you can read about “Re-Engineered” yeast here. We just rely on our own Amalie Robert Estate “Designer” yeast and you can too!

Arguably, one of the more respected wine reviewers recently posted a question on winophilia regarding what job winemakers never delegate. The time to respond was here and gone and Ernie missed it. But we thought about it.

For Ernie, the thing that is the most important is smelling each and every Pinot Noir fermenter (The Syrah fermenter is something other and we have to keep the ladder away from it, lest Ernie crawls in there.) This begins as we empty our tote bins of hand harvest fruit onto an elevator for a second and final inspection. All of our fruit is sorted in the field as it is harvested. This is our chance to catch anything that may have been missed in the field.

The first portion of fruit always goes in “whole cluster” meaning the grapes go in the fermenter just as they were hanging on the vine. The remaining fruit is destemmed over the top. We add a little sulfur dioxide to slow down any spoilage organisms before our Estate Grown “Designer” yeast can take over and dominate the fermentation to dryness.

This process takes about 4 weeks from filling a fermenter with 3,000 pounds of grapes to emptying about 240 gallons of wine into barrels. This gives Ernie around 28 days to smell how each fermenter is developing. The first week or so is pretty bland. The only thing to be alert to is off aromas from spoilage. A little can add complexity to the finished wine, a little more can be used as a blending component, and a lot can spell “VINEGAR.” We swing toward the little side, if any at all.

The second week is where things really smell nice. During punch down is the time to get a look at the early juice color and get a whiff of pure Pinot Noir just starting to ferment at maybe 58 - 60 degrees. It’s still pretty cool, but giving off the most ethereal aromas. It is this aroma we work so hard to steward into the bottle. If you would like to sign up for punch down next year, and get a smell of this nectar, please contact Dena. She will be glad you did! (Wine reviewers also welcome!)

The third week sees a significant amount of fermentation and it is hard to get a good whiff without your body’s involuntary response to not die from asphyxia pulling you back. Here our temperatures spike up to about 80 degrees for a day or so. Still a pretty cool fermentation all in all, and while the aromas are interesting, the aromas from the week before linger. The fourth week is when the cap of floating berries starts to fall signaling it is time to get into a barrel for a long winters rest.

While most anyone can smell for spoilage, it is the pure aromas of Pinot Noir that are not to be missed. This once of year experience revisits us during blending trials. Those pure aromas matched with stem tannins, firm acidity and balanced oak, guide us to our final blends.

From the fermentation floor, we go through the holes in the floor to fill barrels with young wine. It is in this 18 month barrel maturation period that the wines soften the aggressive stem tannins from whole cluster fermentation, convert the malic acid to lactic acid and develop their alluring bouquet.

All in all, harvest 2013 was as unique as any we have experienced. The twists and turns were unpredictable and the resulting fruit has all of the early indications of a very good and hopefully a once in a lifetime vintage -  like 2011. Certainly it is the vintage of the year and no one can dispute that. We will just need to add some time.


Meanwhile, how ‘bout we open one of those sublime 2007 Oregon Pinot Noirs? We did for the Wine Advocate reviewer Mr. David Schildknecht and here is what he had to say about our 2007 “The Reserve” Pinot Noir.

“Rowan, heliotrope, hibiscus, and in fact an entire floral sachet emanate from the glass of Amalie Robert 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve, resembling – but also heightening – aromatic behavior I’ve experienced this year in a number of wines harvested in this “vintage from hell.” Relatively low tannin – like high perfume – is a theme here, but there is an invigorating ping born of fresh red berry acidity allied to subtle crunch of berry seeds on an otherwise polished palate. Reflecting the warmth that led up to 2007’s miseries, hints of caramel are allied to entirely ripe expressions of red fruits, and 13.6% alcohol reveals itself as expansiveness without weight or heat. A smoky aura of burley tobacco mingles with the profuse inner-mouth perfume of this buoyant, vibrant Pinot that finishes with fine, long, mouthwateringly salt-tinged length: not gripping but both stimulating and soothing. I can only hazard a guess as to how long it will remain in such a flattering state, but nothing I taste now suggests it will be less than another couple of years.” 94 Points.

And we found his follow-on comments especially rewarding:

“…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! What’s more, this mini-vertical of reserve bottlings served me with the most amazing among numerous admonitions I received from wines this year to reconsider received opinion about vintages, and in particular the potential of vintage 2007…”

Drink ‘em if you got ‘em…

Kindest Regards from Vintage 2007,


Dena & Ernie

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2013 October "Late Harvest"

Hello and Welcome,

This is the “Late Harvest” Climate Update for October 2013.

Well, Typhoon Pabuk came and went. That kinda put a damper on the harvest operations for most folks. Something about 9 inches of rain in a 4 day window reminds Ernie of what his father used to say about packing 10 pounds of grit in a 5 pound bag. We certainly were over received. Oddly, no one knew it was coming. And this was before the self inflicted government shutdown. At least OUR website was still up and running.

Once the ocean stopped falling out of the sky at a 45 degree down angle, it was cool and drizzly for a few days. The soil and permanent grassed rows did their work of soaking up the rains and recharging the dry soil profile. But they can only absorb so much so fast. The rest was run off. That is the sad truth about farming on hillsides and why Ernie is so keen to keep a rotational cover crop in the recycle rows. It takes a long time to build an inch of topsoil.

But, the cool weather during this time was quite helpful. As astute readers of this communication know, Botrytis is our nemesis as we cruise through the harvest window. Botrytis needs 2 things to take over your vineyard – warm temperatures and airborne moisture, also known as rain. The cool temperatures are what kept the fungus from taking us out. That and our elevated vineyard position allowed us to rise above all of the humidity that pooled at the lower elevations in our growing area. Success leaves clues.

Since we had a little time on our hands, we thought we would look a little more closely into this Noble Rot fungus. A more technical name is Botrytis Cinerea. But that is hard and somewhat awkward to work into a conversation around the end post, hence the shortening to just Botrytis. To be more accurate and specific we should be saying Botryotinia Fuckeliana*.

Botryotinia Fuckeliana is the causal (some may say casual) agent of gray mold disease, better known as Botrytis Cinerea. What this means is actually very simple. Botryotinia Fuckeliana is a fungus that reproduces sexually, while Botrytis Cinerea is a form of the fungus that reproduces asexually. Either way, once they get started watch out. It does not take long to turn ripe, healthy mature fruit into a mycological nightmare. Or does it?


A surprising thing happened on our way to Halloween this year, a very unique and unprecedented thing to be sure. Even more special than that 2007 vintage! It stopped raining, the sun reappeared, the breeze picked up and it remained mild during the day and cool at night. It was about the 5th of the month when we got this “go” sign directly from Ma herself to start harvest. And we did!


We also rely on the tried and true Walnut tree. Every year we sample the vineyard, check the sugars and acids and taste the fruit. We develop a detailed “Harvest Package” day by day to schedule the blocks we want to harvest and in what order. The birds certainly have some input into these harvest logistics. But all we really need to do is watch this majestic Walnut tree. Every year the fruit hangs until we see this magnificent torch appear.

We were picking Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir just about as fast as the birds were. Bear in mind they are uniquely suited to this activity much more so than humans, opposable thumbs or not. Having experienced 2010, where about 300 cases of wine flew away, Ernie decided to get out the nets. Oddly enough, birds and fish share a common failing when it comes to understanding nets. Yeah, that slowed ‘em down and kept a little more fruit on the vine so that we could hang it to optimal ripening. Optimal, of course, is a relative term, but it is vintage specific.

About the 9th of October we decided we better have a look at the Chardonnay. Sure as grit, there was a fair farmin’ bit of Botryotinia Fuckeliana going down. Ernie likes to see a little bit of this activity before harvest, but this was something other. So we plucked the clusters we could, declared victory and got back to the Pinot Noir. By then Peaches had returned, with friends.

We had 4 very nice looking does join us one morning for harvest. The new deer fence is quite effective indeed, as they could not get out. From their point of view, why would they? There were several clones of Pinot Noir to choose from and even a few new shoot tips here and there. Life was good, good, good.

And not so good for the robin who was ensnared in one of the nets. Not his lucky day as he attracted the attention of Geoffrey Chambertin, our resident Redtail hawk. You win some, you lose some and some get Botryotinia Fuckeliana.

As we wrapped up the Pinot Noir cluster pluck, (which was just farmin’ great, mind you) we had Chardonnay on our minds. Ernie took a walk to revisit the carnage. Yeah, they were brown, and yeah, they were shriveling on the vine, but they were sweet and surprisingly, they did NOT taste like mold. Well now, what the Botryotinia Fuckeliana do we have here?

What we have here is Noble Rot, plain and simple. It is a very rare year in the Willamette Valley where the conditions turn from rainy to dry in the fall. In 2013, that was the exact weather pattern after we were inoculated by Typhoon Pabuk. What to do?

One of the most fundamental things in farming is to know what you can fix, what you need to replace and how to tell the difference. Ernie did not know how to deal with this noble gift, so he did what Ernie does. He called Dick Erath.

Dick made it down to the farm late in October. They took a tour of the Chardonnay and decided it was not such a sad little tree after all (sorry, wrong movie.) A quick snip with Dick’s knife and in no time they had plucked a few clusters. Back in the lab Ernie squeezed those little berries until they gave up their secrets. Here is what they said “37.4 Brix at 3.42 pH and our seeds are brown. That is all we know. Well, that and it is going to rain eventually.”

That was enough. Dick shared a late harvest wine he had made from another greatly misunderstood vintage – 1997. He said it was the kind of wine you could apply topically, and remove orally. That was a point not lost on Ernie as he had Botryotinia Fuckeliana on his mind. With Dick’s help, Ernie got to thinking about how to turn those grapes from block 24 into sweet nectar. We commenced our Late Harvest BFC run on October 28th. Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode.

Why yes, we make Rhône wines! The Viognier from 2013 is an aromatic wonderland of homemade peach jam, white apricots, cinnamon and tamarind. We may even bottle some if Ernie doesn’t sample it all first. Estimated production is 5.5 cases, down from the 16 cases produced and bottled from 2012. Maybe this sequester thing is getting a little out of hand.

The Syrah came rolling in on October 31st. We hang it until it looks like we are going into a severe rain pattern. It can use all the hang time it can get. The light fruit set also affected this variety with an estimated production of just 2 barrels, or about 50 cases. Yeah, that’s farmin’.

If you have not had a chance to experience harvest, please take a moment to watch harvest at Amalie Robert Estate. The video was filmed and produced by VineStories. After watching an Amalie Robert Estate wine grape harvest, you may also enjoy learning more about the Spaghetti Harvest with this video.

Back by popular demand, the numbers. After the emotionally cleansing rains of September, we had a pretty nice October. From a harvest operations point of view, it was nice and we liked it! From a fruit point of view, we saw our first blocks of Pinot Noir come in around 21.0 Brix and our last blocks, the really good stuff, was taken around the 15th at around 24.0 Brix. Clearly the vines knew when to stop taking up water and get on with ripening their seeds. Curious little plants indeed.


For the first 15 days of October, we accumulated 6.8 Degree Days, for a growing season to date total of 2,143.1 Degree Days. Our high temperature was 77.0 and our low temperature was 34.2 degrees Fahrenheit. That cool weather really saved our acids! We accumulated 1.13 inches of rainfall through October 15th. Rainfall since April 1st is 22.50 inches.

Here is how we looked at mid-October in 2012:
The first half of Octo-Vember gave us 144 Degree Days. Our high temperature was a blistering 92.5 degrees and our low temperature was just above the frost level at 37.60. Rainfall for this 15 day period was 2.13 inches. Total 2012 growing season Degree Days represent a perfect cool climate vintage at 2,068 and rainfall checks in at 11.09 inches.

¡Salud! “The Premier Oregon Pinot Noir Auction” is being held November 8th and 9th and we will be showcasing the outstanding 2012 vintage. It’s not too late to purchase tickets to attend the ¡Salud! Pinot Noir auction this year. Please follow this link to learn more: www.saludauction.org

If you can not attend, but would like to enter a sealed bid, there is still time. For more information, please follow this link for more information about placing a sealed bid: http://www.saludauction.org/auction/the-oregon-pinot-noir-auction/auction-items/.

You may also contact Lindsay Coon at ¡Salud! by phone at 503-681-1850 or by e-mail at lindsay.coon@tuality.org.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie

* Botryotinia fuckeliana was named by mycologist Heinrich Anton de Bary in honor of another mycologist, Karl Wilhelm Gottlieb Leopold Fuckel.






Monday, September 30, 2013

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2013 September

Hello and Welcome,

This is the climate update for the month of September 2013, such that it is.

“From here on in anything could happen and probably will.”
                                    – Amalie Robert Estate Mid-September 2013 Climate Update

There is a technical farming term to accurately and succinctly describe the second half of September. It is not a term we can publish, but we will give you a hint – it rhymes with “Kitty.”

The vintage was rolling right along through the third week of September. We had a little shower early in the month to wash off the dust and give the vines a little soil moisture to finish their work of ripening seeds. A quick cluster sample gave us a clue, we were not ready. That, and the tell tale walnut tree was still holding green. It usually starts to senesce into a beautiful yellow torch when it is time to bring in the fruit.

The cluster sample provided us with a quick reading of sugars and acids. We saw the sugars were moderate in the 22 Brix range. This is the middle ground between 20 and 24 and provides an alcohol estimate of about 13 percent. If you just knew the number without the weather context you would be ready to cluster pluck. The other shoe dropped when we took a look at the pH. It was close to 3.25 which is historically very low (acidic) for our vineyard and the way we grow our wine.

All together now: “What does that mean and why should I care!?

It means that we had another spot of rain before we were able to take the cluster sample. To look at the clusters, you would see the wineberries were fully pumped up with juice. That juice is now containing a higher percentage of water. So instead of reading 25 Brix and making 15% alcohol wines, we are bending the sugar curve down. The water diluted our sugars and we like that.

So why not pick ‘em? The acids as measured by the pH meter are also diluted. A pH of 3.25 is pretty low (acidic) for our Pinot Noir. Now consider where we were before the last cloud outburst. Take a bit of that water out of that berry and you would see a higher concentration of acid, maybe adjusting the pH down to 3.15. This tells us the wineberries have not completed their ripening program as indicated by high acids.

For several reasons, but only one we will elaborate on here, we simply cannot imagine making wine from someone else’s fruit. Each of our 36 blocks has their own little idiosyncrasies and unique characteristics that we are intimately familiar with. These all come into play when making a harvest decision to go or to wait.

One key factor of our winegrowing program has a significant impact on acids and that is our leaf pull regime. We pull very few leaves in our Pinot Noir because we will be fermenting those wineberries with a portion of the stems. Yes, this is a WTF (Waft The Fruit) moment.


Wineberries exposed to the sun develop aromas, flavors and phenolics (tannin.) Like most things in life that taste good, you can have too much of a good thing here. Excessive sun exposure will develop harsh or astringent tannins in the wine. A little more shading will temper this development into more sexy and sublime aromas and flavors with moderate tannins.

Here is where the whole clusters come into play. The stems that the wineberries are maturing on are a woody structure of the vine. We add a portion of our fruit to the fermenter “on the stem.” That means these stems are in the fermenter adding a bit of flavor and tannin complexity of their own. They also add a fair bit of astringency.

You can do this experiment in the privacy of your own home with a bunch of table grapes. Remove the grapes from the stem and chew on it. It should not take long before you will be experiencing the influence of whole cluster fermentation. Remember to say “Kitty!”

OK, let’s bring it home. Shading our fruit allows us to develop a more elegant aroma and flavor profile in our wines without the harsh tannin of overexposed wineberries. The stem adds a little astringent tannin to give our wines a strong backbone. We then go into barrel for 18 months to soften that astringency, a bit. The result is a well balanced tannin structure that, paired with firm acidity, is the secret to long lived wines that will continue to develop intriguing aromas, flavors and textures.

So, what does this have to do with pH? Wineberries grown in a more shaded canopy have a higher pH. We typically see our pH rise to well over 3.50 before harvest. So when we see a pH reading of 3.25, and it is diluted due to a little rain, we know they are not ready for the big cluster pluck.

And of course, there is more to the story. The skins still taste like green bananas when you chew them. The seeds are almost martini olive green, but not quite. And there is still a fair bit of gelatinous pulp around the seeds. This should be mostly gone in a fully flavored and “aroma-ed” wineberry. Ergo, they are not ready

And then it rained.

The old timers around here, after a bit of prodding, will tell you about 1984. That was the year the waterworks started in September and simply did not stop. They will talk about harvesting with “Oregon Buckets.” These are buckets that have drainage holes drilled in the bottoms to let the rainwater out. For you collectors out there, try and find a bottle of 1984 vintage Oregon Pinot Noir. Take your time. If you do find one, it will be a rare treat indeed as very little red wine was made that year. Then again, some things are better to want than to have.

And it kept raining.
  


It seems the Japanese do have some influence and control over Oregon Pinot Noir. The weather system that provided a seemingly unending supply of rain was fueled by Typhoon Pabuk. Typhoon Pabuk was heading to Japan for a little R&R (rain and ruin.) But, a typhoon is typically not the stealthiest weather pattern and it was detected just in time. A strong weather front gathered itself together from the mainland, pushed over the Sea of Japan and confronted Typhoon Pabuk in the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, there were some issues surrounding diplomatic protocol and bringing in undeclared aquaculture products. In short order, Typhoon Pabuk was sent packing to the northeast.

It was windy too, which brought even more rain.

One man’s northeast is another man’s northwest. And that would happen to be where history found Ernie the weekend of September 28-29, 2013. The good news is the rototilling is all done. The alternate rows are ready for the winter cover crops that are selected to nourish our vines in the Spring and hold the soil in place during the winter rains. The bad news is that the cover crop is sitting in the seed drill waiting to be planted in the vineyard.


It was warm rain. Anyone have a Geiger counter?


And that seems to make sense. Typhoons are tropical events and if they are going to party, it is going to be with warm rain. Warm rain is not so good, and three days of warm rain is really … “Kitty.” Warm rain means we are about to experience a significant Botrytis event.

While we have been trying to keep dry, Botrytis has been loving the wet weather. Sure some of the spores are getting washed off. But the ones that had been on verge of compromising the fruit are well positioned to take over the entire cluster. This will happen the first week of October, when the sun is rumored to appear and crank up the heat. That’s gonna be a real big “Kitty.”

As we harvest, we will be very vigilant in keeping the Botrytis out of the fermenters. In that regard it will be very similar to a Burgundy harvest. The climate there often provides showers during the growing season that helps Botrytis get a foothold. They don’t have anything as cool as Typhoon Pabuk of course, but they do get Botrytis all the same.

At least the nets are up.

After several years of watching the birds feast on the more exposed areas of the vineyard, Ernie stopped wishing they would go away and just netted the vines. This was after abandoning the idea of tenting the vineyard like an aviary – hawks and all. In hindsight, the correct maneuver would have been to tarp the whole field.

The numbers are classified.

Let’s put it this way. If the government can figure out how to keep spending our money unabated, we will show you the numbers. Probably a pretty safe bet.

We are ready for harvest, as much as we can be. Ernie has selected a ¼ inch bit to start drilling holes in the harvest buckets. We have laid in harvest provisions and a 10 pound bag of whole bean “Dark Monster” to brew up every morning. Fresh wool socks and a new pair of Giorgio Farmani boots help keep everything moving along. After 14 years here if you don’t know how to dress for harvest, you don’t know Jac Shirt.

Kindest Regards,

Dena, Ernie and Typhoon Pabuk




Sunday, September 15, 2013

Amalie Robert Climate Update: 2013 Mid-September

Hello and Welcome,

This is the climate update for Mid-September 2013.

We spend a significant amount of time and go to a good deal of trouble to explain what we do in the vineyard and winery. Perhaps we have been going about this all wrong. Why just the other day, and for quite a few days now, we keep hearing about the data collection and data mining efforts that are being undertaken, or just taken, on our behalf. And recently we have had this crazy craving for Russian Caviar.


Soon we will be launching our own “Vineyard Vision.” Ernie has had a few spare moments, and you would be amazed at what he can cobble together out of that old flail mower and a few other pieces of “vintage” farm equipment. Sometime after harvest we will be launching our very own Interactive Communications Uplink (ICU) Satellite. Yep, there will be an app for that, for sure, for sure, good buddy!


Now we know this has been tried before, but with limited success. You see that was before the Smartphone and all those (foreign and domestic) Smartphone apps that are tracking our every move, credit card transaction, conversation, and perhaps image capture as well. And how do they get your driving directions so accurate? This is fertile ground to till, friends.

Meanwhile back on the farm, September has been one heck of a ride! You can see what we mean by going to Google Maps and typing in 13531 Bursell Road, Dallas, Oregon. Try it on your Smartphone…


September has been running hot and warm. We have seen the August trend continue, but with an unexpected shower of about an inch of rain. Ernie was really hoping for some cool rain to slow down the sugar accumulation in the wineberries. What he got was warm rain and plenty of it.

For those of you that are new to this communiqué, hold onto your apps. One inch of rain over an acre of land is 27,150 gallons of water. We received this gift from Mother Nature during the evening hours of September 5th.  This was big water in a short window. Our vines are planted at a density of 1,452 per acre. So you would not be inaccurate to say that each vine just gained access to a little over 18 gallons of water. We like to see the vines produce enough fruit to produce one bottle of wine per vine* – that is about 0.2 gallons. You old timers would know this as “a fifth.”

* Each ton of Pinot Noir harvested produces just about 60 cases of wine. Two tons of Pinot Noir from an acre of land will yield 120 cases (1,440 bottles) of wine from 1,452 vines.

You may be asking yourself where all of that rain is going to go. That would be a very good question, and is exactly what is on Ernie’s mind. There are only 2 places that much water can go:

First and fastest is the grass. Every other row of the vineyard has a permanent grass row. We use Tall Fescue as it has deep roots to survive our dry farmed vineyard in the summer. Now we had a little shot of rain at the end of August, about 0.25 inches. This woke up the grass and it started to green up. That means the grass is ready to take up a portion of this new rainfall. The warm temperatures are also helping it to grow. Nice.

The other half of the vineyard holds our fertilizer for this fall – Vetch to set Nitrogen and Buckwheat to help with Phosphorus uptake in the vines. These are 2 macronutrients the vines need every year. But those plants are pretty much dormant from the dry summer and are not going to take up a significant amount of that water. Not so much.



That leaves us with the water percolating down thorough the soil profile where the roots are waiting. Not much else they can do really. It’s not like they are going to run to town for beers. That’s our job.

The canopy is now in control. The leaves have a capillary ability to pull water from the soil via the roots. As the sun shines down on the leaves they carry out photosynthesis, convert that nasty carbon dioxide into oxygen that we all need and absorb heat. They cool themselves by opening stomata on their backside and release a little water vapor along with the oxygen. This is a very natural and biologically necessary function in most plants and many animals, some more than others – usually the males. So, the more leaves we have and the warmer the temperatures, the more of the available soil moisture will be transpired through the leaves. Very good.

Along with the leaves transpiring this moisture into the atmosphere, the wineberries are strategically positioned between the roots and the leaves to pick up some of this water on the way by. This can be good since the wineberries have had a hot and dry summer where they have desiccated a bit. This means the sugars will read very high because there is very little water left in the berry. High sugar accumulation before flavor development is bad, so we like a little moisture in the wineberries. Good.

However, an inch of rain is not a little moisture. The risk we are now exposed to is split berries and Botrytis bunch rot. As the leaves are pulling up moisture, the berries are packing it in. Late in the season the cell walls in the skins are starting to break down and release aromas that are like pheromones that stimulate the animal urges in … animals. This is good for wine quality as well, especially if you believe that a fine Pinot Noir is the embodiment of sex in a glass. Yeah, I’ll take a piece of that action!

However when these cell walls break down and the skins start to thin out it means too much water can burst the berry. When this happens, the cluster will start to rot with Botrytis. This is not good, as the cluster is now lost. No animal will eat that cluster when the cluster 3 inches away is just fine. Now that cluster is lost as well, and so on. Not so nice.


Ergo, the growing season to date has been quite warm and dry. The wineberries had been reading high sugars that meant an early harvest to keep alcohol levels down, but without great flavor development. This early September soaking has had the effect of diluting those sugars and thereby allowing for a little more hang time to develop those sexy, silky flavors we so desire. Now if they just hold together and don’t split we will be out to get them in a jiffy!

Let’s have a look at the numbers, and maybe a nice cold farming bier. That’s right, Okto-vember is just around the corner!

The first 15 days of September accumulated 248.3 degree days, had a high of 94.9 (recorded on 9/11 at 3:20 pm) and a low of 50.9 (recorded 9/7 at 3:20 am) for a 2013 growing season total of 1,985.3. This number looks a lot like 2,000 degree days which marks a nice cool climate growing season especially suited to Pinot Noir.


And we had rain. The evening of September 5th brought us a full inch, increasing the growing season total to 7.53 inches. Well (a hole in the ground with water in it), the grass certainly has greened up!

From here on in anything could happen and probably will. The warm temperatures up into the 90s after our early September rain event helped to green up the grass and rehydrate the wineberries. The rest of September is looking kinda carppy with miserable little cloud outbursts here and hopefully over there. The good news is that we have finally slowed down the growing season to let the flavors catch up with the sugars. However, we now face the risk of split berries and Botrytis bunch rot. If 2011 was a character building vintage, success in 2013 will be marked by nimble harvest operations ready to go at a moments notice. That’s how the birds do it. Welcome to the advanced class.

Bonus Material: For those of you actually considering getting into growing wine in Oregon, please refresh yourselves on the definitions of the following 2 words: Could and Should. As used in a sentence: “Oh sure, I could grow great wineberries.” And “Growing wineberries and placing my family’s entire financial future in Mother Nature’s hands is not something I should be doing.” May we suggest writing the second sentence on a cocktail napkin and carrying it with you during the evening hours in case the need to use it suddenly arises?


This is what we had to say for Mid-September 2012:
Ah, the numbers. We take a reading mid month in September because we can. It is just another data point along the way and helps us to understand our fruit development coming down the home stretch. Through the 15th of September, we have accumulated 244 Degree Days, for a growing season to date total of 1,718. We are only 4 Degree Days short of the entire 2010 growing season of 1,722! But wait, there's more.

Our high temperature was 97.1 and our low temperature for the month was a brisk 41.0 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no rainfall in the first 15 days of September. Rainfall since April 1st through September 15th remains 8.96 inches. A full and comparative report will be provided at month end.

But heat units aren't the whole story. We need time for the berries to ripen their seeds and ultimately develop stunning flavors and aromas while maintaining vibrant acidity. Besides, the birds aren't here yet. The real excitement begins in the second half of September. We expect a little precipitation, but who knows when.

In the past few cool vintages, it has been the latter half of September and the first half of October that Mother Nature decided to send a little love our way. Then there was 2011, where September felt like April and we burned through all of October to finish our Pinot Noir harvest the first week of November! That tingling sensation originated just below our spines. We think of the 2011 vintage often, but not fondly.

"Lean into it" they say. Yep, that's what’s next - Okto-vember. More than any other time during the year, this 61 day period is when we switch from wine to bier. It's a Germanic thing. See you next month!

Kindest Regards,


Dena & Ernie

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2013 August

Hello and Welcome,

This is the climate summary for the month of August 2013 (Julian calendar days 213-243 inclusive.)

They say the line between genius and insanity is a thin one. We would add that in winegrowing this relationship is in a constant state of flux dependant upon the weather. And the final product, even years down the road, is repeatedly subject to interpretation.




August has been such a month. We have had very warm days with dry breezes from the east. The mornings have sometimes blessed us with a heavy onshore flow from the coast providing humidity and cloud cover, and on the 15th an early morning double rainbow over Block 2. The evening sunsets and the full moon have been stunning. And we have even had the “R” word. Yep, a little bit of rain to close out the month. But to get a true read on the vintage, we need to pay attention to the underlying fundamentals – night time temperatures which have been warm.

For us, the line between unripe fruit and wonderfully expressive flavors and aromas in Pinot Noir occurs at about 105 days after flowering. In that other Pinot Noir growing region, Burgundy, they only need about 100 days to cross the threshold. So what gives? The nights in Burgundy are typically a little warmer, and even a little increase in temperature adds up over 100 days.

But what does this mean and why should I care? It means that during the day the leaves are carrying on photosynthesis and exporting that energy through the vascular tissue to the rest of the plant. This is how the vine is building sugars in the wineberries. However, the leaf can generate much more energy than it can export during the daytime hours.

As nightfall approaches the temperatures begin to drop. The leaf is still trying to export energy back into the vine, and will continue to do so until the temperatures drop down to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, the vascular tissue is too cold to continue transporting energy from the leaves. The leaves are left to store the energy until the temperature rises.

As the sun rises and greets the vines, the leaves are once again photosynthetically active. However, the leaves are still storing energy from the day before. This limits the amount of photosynthesis that can occur each day, and in turn increases the number of days necessary to ripen the fruit. Now, 100 v 105 days may not seem like much, but try holding your breath for 5 days. It makes a difference.

But wait, there’s more! As part of the Pinot Noir cluster, we have the wing. This little, or sometimes large, appendage has got to go. Here’s why. The wing flowers about a week after the main cluster and therefore ripens about a week late. We would prefer not to have the unripe flavors from these berries in our wine, so we nip them off. That’s about a minute per vine by 45,000 vines. That’s pretty easy farmer math.

Now let’s talk about ripeness. What does it really mean? We look at it from two points of view. The first is the scientific analysis. We measure the fermentable sugars, primarily Fructose and Glucose, represented as Brix. We know that we will convert sugars to alcohol at a rate of about 60%. So if we have 20 Brix in our fruit, we will end up with about 12% alcohol. If we see 25 Brix it means we waited a bit too long and are peddling 15% alcohol Pinot Noir. Those are the rules of the road.

Acids are great and we measure those with a pH meter. For those of you who skipped high school chemistry, like Ernie, just remember the lower the pH the more acidic the wine will be. A microbial stable wine will be somewhere between 3.0 and 3.7 pH, the lower the better for extended aging. That is why wines from cool, character building vintages like 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011 may need a little more time to tell their stories than warmer, more accessible vintages.

Once the numbers tell us we are “in the zone” we can get onto more subjective evaluations. The objective here is to understand what the wineberries taste and smell like. Think of the grape skin as a little flavor and aroma packet. Our job as wine growers is to use the 105 days of ripening to influence how those flavors and aromas will develop. We have several tools at our disposal including removing leaves to increase sun exposure, or not. We hedge the canopy to help accelerate ripening or let the shoot tips grow to slow down the ripening process. Cover crops and grasses play a role by taking up excess moisture when they are allowed to grow tall. Not so much when Ernie lowers the flail for a tight trim.

It also helps to keep the crystal ball in good repair so as to factor in what Mother Nature has planned. Obviously, we spend a lot of time in the vineyard tending to the vines. It keeps us off the streets, but we can only dance to the music she plays. And our station is WTFR (Waft The Fruit Radio) where the hits keep on coming.

So, there it is. The canopy is still looking very green and healthy. The wineberries are turning from green to mauve to purple. We are trimming off excess crop and the late to ripen wings. We are also waiting for a spot of rain to soften up the rows in the vineyard so Ernie doesn’t have to buy a new rototiller this year. Then the summer cover crop gets turned into the soil and we put down about 50 pounds per acre of Winter Peas to fix nitrogen and Rye Grass to hold it until the Spring when the cycle starts over again. No chemical fertilizer here, we grow our own!

Of course, everyone has an opinion on the upcoming vintage quality. It is said that only journalists can know the quality of a vintage before the grapes are actually harvested. That may be true, but we also have our own “Peanut Gallery.”


These guys and hens are constantly in the vineyard. Mostly they are eating the Buckwheat seeds from the summer cover crop mix. But they pop off quite often and loudly. We usually get an earful at the breakfast table, as there favorite spot to orate is in the shrubbery between the kitchen and block 2. They also have their own rabbit. He, or she, seems to be quite shy and we have yet to see an appropriate suitor on the scene.
 
And Peaches is still running around here somewhere. Ernie was discing the “Upper West Side” getting ready for a spring planting of Wadenswil clone when he saw this beautiful doe running along the inside of the new deer fence. Her coat was the most amazing color of a Redtail hawk’s tail feather. Not much to worry about in the vineyard just now, so Ernie geared down on the crawler and let her by. Since Ernie’s encounter, Peaches has been a bit shy, so we’ve issued a “Missing Peaches Report.” We expect she is getting ready for the rut and will be back in fine form just as the grapes ripen up.

Before we get to the numbers, we wanted to remind everyone that if you are doing any home repairs or remodels, you need one of these. This basic model has a handle for red and a handle for white. However, with just a little more effort you can find a model that will provide several choices to match your mood. We do recommend that if you are addicted to bubbles like Dena, the traditional glass bottle and tree bark stopper is the proper way to go.


And here are the numBERRRRs!
We have recorded 524 degree days for the month of August, providing a total of 1,737 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1, 2013 (Julian calendar day 91.) For analytical comparative purposes only, the 2010 vintage only recorded 1,722 degree days through the end of OctoBERRRR.




Silky, sexy wines they are, with relatively low alcohol. When Ernie was in Dublin, the Irish guys would say “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.” If that is the case, then 2010 is the vintage.

Crunch ‘em if you got ‘em, and Ernie does. Looking at the first 15 days of August we see a high of 92.0 degrees and a low of 47.2 degrees, with an average temperature of 66.39 degrees. This is from the optimally positioned weather station that takes a temperature reading every 20 minutes. The next 16 days of August provided a high of 89.3 degrees and a low of 50.6 degrees, with an average temperature of 67.31 degrees from the aforementioned, optimally positioned, weather station. The second half of August also brought a shot of rain and heavy cloud cover that held the daytime heat through the evening hours.

Here is what we can glean from these numbers:

R   The high temperatures are well below the levels that will shut down the vine and potentially sunburn overexposed berries.

R   The low temperatures tell us that the vines are continuing to export energy from the leaves during the evening hours. This is advancing the ripening curve and reducing the number of days the vine needs to build sugars.

R   Conversely, the vines are reducing the potential number of days we need to achieve flavors and aromas in the skins due to an advanced ripening trajectory.

R   We may not be able to wait the full 105 days to start harvest operations. Good news for you. You may only need to hold your breath for 3 days instead of 5.

Based on the date the vines flowered plus 105 days, a harvest window opens on day 262 of the Julian calendar (aka Thursday, September 16.) However if September continues on August’s course, we may be forced to begin harvest a little early to avoid high potential alcohol wines. What a change this would be from 2010 and 2011 where we were still harvesting well into NovemBERRRR.

August rainfall occurred from the 25th thru the 29th and totals 0.29 inches. While not a significant amount of rain, this event is significant as we typically do not see rain in August. It was a welcome sight as we have been pretty warm and dry since our last rain event on June 30th. Total rain for the growing season is now 13.37 inches.

Here is what we had to say last year, August 2012:
We have recorded about 545 degree days for the month of August, providing a total of 1,474 degree days since the beginning of the growing season on April 1st. This compares with 582 degree days last August and a comparative total of 1,271 degree days for 2011. Ceteris Paribus for August, but we are still holding our degree day advantage from the Spring.

Our high temperature was 101.0 and Ernie’s hi-tech, wireless weather gauge chose this day to display “OFL.” We couldn’t agree more, it was awful! Our low temperature for the month was 45.4 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no rainfall in August. Rainfall last August was also zero. Rainfall since April 1st through August 30th remains 8.96 inches, and is 0.43 inches less than last year's growing season to date rainfall of 9.39 inches.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie