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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2017 April

Hello and Welcome, 

This is the Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2017 April. 

Well, let’s see, where to begin. It’s been raining. In fact we have received over 50 inches of rain from last October through March, 2017. That is a significant event due to the fact we “normally” receive that amount of rain in a 12 month period. Rain: Over received. 

And it has been unseasonably cold. Starting in mid-December we experienced our first of several arctic blasts and snow accumulations. And then there was the freezing rain. Always an unwelcomed event where tree limbs and power lines grow in close proximity.

The vines, of course, were unfazed. In fact they were still asleep and missed out on all this fine and peasant misery we call winter in wine country. Even a brief sojourn to Texas did not spare us. The arctic air made it down to Austin, and at 27 degrees, gave us a chilly send off back to Oregon. There
really is nothing quite like arriving after dark at the airport to find your car encapsulated in ice due to a week of freezing rain, and the activities that ensue forthwith.

And it was cold and flu season. Those nasty bugs visited themselves upon us. Fortunately we had the proper cold medication on hand, and in good quantity.

Alright, let’s grow some wine! By the time you are reading this, the 55,000 or so vines that make up the vineyard at Amalie Robert Estate have been pruned and are ready to do their part for vintage 2017. Chardonnay, G’wz, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Viognier reporting for duty!

Pruned and tied down properly 

Escaped tie down, but won’t get far

Ernie has put down the first mowjob of the season. This first pass chops up all of last year’s canes from the trellis (browns) and mixes them with the Tall Fescue that he grows between the rows (greens.) These browns and greens make it to the vineyard floor where a host of soil microbes (and worms, don’t forget the worms) are waiting to compost them back into the soil. Waste not, want not.

Another thing you might notice if you happen to be in the neighborhood is that he doesn’t mow the grass in the road ways. He is waiting for it to go to seed and fill in any bare spots. And besides, the quail like fresh grass seed, so we feed them along the way (standard farming procedure.)

And then he starts to open up the nutritional rows to incorporate last fall’s cover crop and put down a summer blend of plants that will nourish our vines. The first pass is with a chisel plow. What a great implement! It’s easy to hook up, hard to break, and cheap, as far as vineyard equipment goes. This pass also has the benefit of pruning off any shallow roots the vines have produced. Of course you don’t have to do this to grow world class Pinot Noir, but someone has to.


Click for a few seconds with Ernie. He’s out there all day.

Then the rototiller comes along and makes a fluffed up seed bed. We are just working with about the top 6 inches of soil. That is where the real microbial activity is happening. Finally, the seed drill puts down 7 equally spaced furrows containing our standard blend of Buckwheat and Vetch. Easy on the water during the summer and full of nutrients to be incorporated back into the vineyard after harvest. Mmmm Yummy!

And we had bud break on Earth day, but you already knew that. What you don’t know is how “utterly and completely crappy” (technical farming term) the weather was during this time. Montmorency cherries have a tendency to flower at the same time as Pinot Noir has bud break and they need bees to pollinate. Bad weather and no bees mean not so many cherries this year. It could be the case that cherry pies are going to be hard to come by. We may all have to be “re-accommodated” to apple pie instead.

Attention all number crunchers and scriveners! Bear witness to the first data set for vintage 2017. It’s not a pretty picture, just ask the cherry growers.

The high temperature recorded for April was 67.6 degrees and the low temperature was 30.0 degrees Fahrenheit. The first half of the month recorded no degree days. The second half of the month recorded 1.3 degree days. While that is not much, it is also not nothing. Rain for the month of April totaled 4.80 inches and included the gratuitous hail storm or two.

From Vintage 2016: For the month of April, we accumulated 165.0 degree days. The high temperature was 88.9 degrees on April 19th and the low temperature was 37.8 degrees on April 4th. Once again we see a warm start to the growing season, but at this point on the calendar anything could happen, and most likely will.

From Vintage 2015: We have accumulated 53.6 degree days for the first 30 days of the growing season beginning on day 91 (April 1), 2015. The first half of April did not record any degree days, and therefore, all degree days were recorded in the second half of the month. This is another example of the “mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive” principle.

The high temperature for April was a balmy, if not scorching, 80.1 degrees on April 20, at 4:40 in the afternoon. In farming parlance, this is known as beer’thirty. The morning of April 29 hovered right at 34.2 degrees from 5:40 until 6:40. It was a fine time for a second cup of coffee and a warm slice of 3.14159265358979.

So there it is. Vintage 2017 is off to a slow start but it is too soon to worry - excessively.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie

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