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, April 30, 2013

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2013 April

Hello and Welcome,

This is the Climate Update for the month of April 2013.

April has turned out to be a fine month indeed. While the numbers are clearly subject to interpretation, we can report with great confidence that everything felt just about right as we entered the 2013 growing season.

April is the time when all of the previous growing season’s wear and tear becomes evident. Our summer clothes have shrunk, again. Those nice new “Georgio Farmani” boots from last year are looking more like the “Claude Hoppers” of our misspent youth. And for some reason these glasses seem to drift in and out of focus.

The equipment is also looking for a little preventive maintenance, or percussive as the case may be. The flail mower is a piece of equipment that has a very hard life. The flail mower, while not an independent agency, is responsible for mowing all of the vineyard rows, headland spaces at the end of the rows, all roadways, open ground, small and sometimes large tree branches, and the front yard. This implement is also responsible for the majority of Ernie’s repairs and maintenance budget. It eats grease, bearings, flail blades, nuts and bolts, diesel and time, lots and lots of time. But when the flail is dialed in, it can really put down a nice trim.

After a recent gearbox seal replacement Ernie had to refill the gearbox with gear oil. Of course the fill plug is on the side, not the top of the gearbox. Apparently, this is the preferred design of Bondioli & Pavesi. At the same time, the “3 Point” mounting brackets were being reattached and reinforced by a really great friend (people who know how to weld are, by definition, great friends.)

Ernie is now scouring the shop for a funnel with a 90 degree bend and 3/8” outlet. But much like the Grinch searching for Reindeer, there were none to be found. However, after 14 years of farming, Ernie has seen this movie before. As if standing at the top of Mt. Crumpet (where wine critics said to take the 2007 vintage and dump it) he quite proudly announced to his welding buddy:

“Hey, I just made a funnel out of an old business card!” The reply was delivered dry and in perfect cadence: “Yeah, we’re really farmin’ now.”

Which leads us to this inescapable axiom: Farmin’ is what you are doing when you are not growing great wine.

Another curious thing happened this Spring, the vineyard grew! In size that is. Yep, after wishing and waiting and farmin’ all of these years, Ernie finally pulled the trigger and planted a wee little bit of the very fine Gew├╝rztraminer. While this is all very exciting, it will be another 2 years (or more if the deer discover it) before we have wine to enjoy.

As is par for the course, the grassed vineyard rows have received the brown canes and shoots from last year where the flail mower found them and promptly returned them to the soil along with some nice green grass clippings. The “Alternate” rows are where we plant cover crops to feed our vines.

That process is a bit more involved and includes not only the obligatory flail mowing but a pass with the chisel plow as well to open things up. We then hook up the roto-tiller to turn last years cover crop back into the soil and prepare a nice fluffed-up seed bed. The last step is to fill up the seed drill with a summer blend of Buckwheat and Vetch and drill it in. Then there is a bit of tried and true farmin’ – we wait for rain.

These are Buckwheat and Vetch cover crop seeds before and after being drilled into the “Alternate” rows. We consider the soil to be the plants’ stomach. By planting cover crops that add nitrogen to the soil and promote overall soil health, we can avoid the use of chemical fertilizers. These cover crops also provide a nice habitat for beneficial insects (think carnivores) that can help manage the populations of non-beneficial insects (think dinner.)

However interesting these acts of farmin’ may be, the vines are dedicated to a singular purpose: Making us work for it! And that is what’s up next. Each of these precious little “wine makers” are in for a little shoot thinning and trunk suckering. Then we start bringing up the catch wires and clipping their fruit bearing shoots into place. This is followed by more farmin’ as we hope for nice weather while the vines are flowering and hopefully setting a nice crop of wineberries. Wouldn’t that be somethin’?

Well, here are the farmin’ numbers so far this year.

We entered the growing season on April 19 (day 109 of the Julian Calendar) with Budbreak. This is the first marker from the season that lets us know that harvest is happening in the southern Hemisphere and we are a scant 6 months away here.

We look at April in two halves because the first half is usually pretty cold and we have the technology to separate the data. The first half of the month gave us 0.0 degree days, a high of 68.8 (told you it was nice) and a low of 34.9 degrees F.

The second half of the month gave us 51.7 degree days, a high of 80.6 (How’s that for April showing off?) and a low of 32.4 degrees F. Rainfall for the month was 2.22 inches.

Here’s what we had to say last year: “We have recorded about 52.9 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.”

Hmm, seems like we may have seen this farmin’ movie before.

If you missed the 2013 Spring Cellar report, you can find that right here: Amalie Robert 2013 Spring Cellar Report

Kindest Regards,

Dena and Ernie

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