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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2016 May

Hello and Welcome,

This is the Climate Update for May 2016 from Amalie Robert Estate.


The big news for the month of May is that the vines produced flowers on May 27th. This is a necessary precursor to harvest, however it does not guarantee we will have a harvest. That depends on Mother Nature’s mood during the bloom period. Alternatively, if the vines do not produce flowers, there will be no harvest regardless of the weather during bloom. Logic, while somewhat inconvenient, is your friend. But there is more, oh so much more, to the month of May for the Willamette Valley wine berry grower. Let’s digress, shall we?

Starting at the bottom, we have a lovely spread of cover crops this year. Ernie was able to decode the Spring rain pattern and get those seeds drilled in between the cloudbursts. What we see here are very happy little plants that will fix nitrogen, help condition our soil, provide pollen (protein) for our carnivorous insect friends, seeds for the Quail and then become food for our vines this fall. It’s now legal to grow your own in Oregon, but we have been using cover crops to feed our vines, bugs and birds since the turn of the century.


Moving on up about 34 inches we have our first set of catch wires clipped into place. This is a beautiful thing and the basis for a Vertical Shoot Positioned trellis system. The first set of wires is the most important set of wires as they dictate how the shoots and follow-on clusters will be oriented. We want them separated to promote good airflow that will allow for the evaporation of the morning dew that could allow mildew to take hold. We demand few things from the vines, but discipline in the canopy is one of them.

And just when you think you are ahead of the curve, it is time for the second set of wires to be raised. As we move further into the growing season, the weather generally improves. Warmer temperatures mean the vines grow faster. And that means the shoots get longer – Right Farmin’ Now! If we run the numbers on 45,000 vines with 16 shoots each, assuming a growth rate of an inch per day that would give us about 60,000 lineal feet of growth per day! That’s what we’re talking about! Canopy management is a job done by hand, and that’s a lotta hand “work.”

And somebody has to cut the frickin’ grass. Every other row in the vineyard has Tall Fescue as a permanent cover. This allows Ernie to get through the field in case of a wet and sloppy harvest. But the grass responds to the heat and available soil moisture just like the vines do. Going back to our handy dandy slide rule, we see that 45,000 vines work out to be about 90,000 lineal feet of vineyard rows to mow. Why that’s just about 17 miles worth of driving, at about 2.5 miles per hour. How was your day, honey?


Of course, hot and dry vintages need short grass to preserve soil moisture so there are a couple more mowing passes than what we would see in a wet vintage where we are letting the grass grow tall to deplete excess soil moisture. That’s the thing about viticulture, you gotta pay attention.

But relief is coming into view as Ernie gets ready for his first hedge. Oh sure, the vines have had their way with us up until now, but “The Enforcer” will soon be on the scene. We just need to get that third wire up and clipped into place first…

In light of the recent increase in Internet spamming of business phone numbers, we would like to share our new phone number with everyone. It is the square root of 25,389,796,008,272,100,000. Feel free to leave a message if you like.

And, quite conveniently, here are the numbers for May. While April was one for the record books, May gave us all kinds of fits and starts. We had high temperatures, low temperatures, wind, rain and why the hail was that ice falling out of the sky? It was like how April should have been, but wasn’t.

For the month of May, 2016, we logged 277 degree days with a high temperature of 87.4 and a low temperature of 38.0 degrees Fahrenheit. This provides a May to date growing season total of 441.9 degree days, compared with 287.4 degree days for 2015. The historical May to date growing season degree days are contrasted below:


Rainfall for the month of May totaled 0.77 inches and included a little hail. Fortunately, the hail was before the vines flowered and it was not forceful enough to do significant damage to the new shoots. Rainfall for the month of April has been revised up from 1.57 inches to 3.14 inches and that provides a May to date growing season total of 3.91 inches.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie

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