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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2017 May

Hello and Welcome, 

This is the Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update for May 2017. 

Hurry up and wait and then get ‘er done “Right Farmin’ Now” so you can wait some more seems to be the way forward this May. And in fact, that is just what we did to get the vineyard floor set with the most exquisite carpet of fully germinated cover crop - EVER. Oh, you should see what it looks like from out here! 

After a very wet spring, a few days of clear blue sky found Ernie clanking up and down the rows with his (somewhat) trusty (though quite finicky) Italian steed with chisel plow in tow. Opening up the soil with the sun and the breeze on your face is a unique farming experience as was the sun and wind burn he was sporting the next several days. Yeah he was beaming, quite literally.

 Click the image above for a few seconds with Ernie. He's out there all day.
Click the image above for a few seconds with Ernie. He's out there all day.



Then it was time for a quick-change from the chisel plow to the rototiller and we wait for another nice day or two to fluff the soil to make a comfy-cozy seed bed for the third pass of our cover crop regime. And the third pass is with the Schmeiser seed drill that puts down about 30 pounds of seed per acre spaced about 3 inches apart in eight equally spaced furrows. And then like all farmers, everywhere, we wait for rain. It is the faith in near term measurable precipitation that that binds us together as a community of the faithful. And two days later, our faith was renewed with about an inch of rain.



It is quite a thing to behold, to see all those estate grown quail out there eating a seed every three inches. And that’s OK, because just before harvest we always thin off some “wings” and that is when they will get theirs. You know, Ernie didn’t get invited to try out for the Olympic shooting team based on his good looks alone.

Of course not everyone feeds their vines with cover crops, but they should. And if they don’t use cover crops, they have to use chemical fertilizers or small to medium sized farm animals – but what do you feed them? You get the idea. Be a steward of the land and feed the soils that feed your vines, or don’t. The next time you make it out into wine country, look around then ask – What are you feeding your vines? The vines know the difference and they will tell on you in the quality of the fruit they produce. In the real world this is akin to “No Coffee, No Workee.”

And then the vines, once they started to bud out, needed to be cleaned up a bit. Often times there are just too many shoots that emerge along the cane and some of them, well, they need to thinned off. Not really their fault, just growing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Along the fruiting wire we like to see a shoot every 4 inches or so. Any closer than that and there is not enough room for what will become a quarter pound worth of an oh-so-spectacular Pinot Noir cluster. Make a hole, as they say in the submariner’s handbook.

Those clusters need to be separated and spaced in the canopy to allow light penetration and good air circulation to fend off against mildew and bunch rot. And on rare occasions, when the moon is just right, the sock monster gets loose from the laundry room… We shudder at the thought.

And we also see some shoots trying to grow out of the graft union that is just about 3 inches off the ground. Yeah, that means about 1,452 deep knee bends per acre. That’s farming, not for the faint of heart or weak of knee.

Then the vines are set – for that particular moment. Much like when the piston hits Top Dead Center of the combustion stroke - it lasts only for an instant. Next up we will be running wires to contain all of the growth that has been focused into these 12 to 14 shoots that we left on the cane. We imagine with all the currently available soil moisture and a few days of summer temperatures, we are going to get quite busy for quite some time.

Here is the math (You can go ahead and wrap your head in duct tape at anytime if you fear it might explode):

Each acre of vines at Amalie Robert Estate is the equivalent of 5,808 lineal feet of canopy if we were to put each row end to end. This is an exercise left for the reader, as we are not going to go and do that for this illustration. And since we have about 35 acres of vines that means we have about 203,280 lineal feet of canopy to manage. Now that is kind of a big number, so let’s convert that to miles. How about 38.5 miles? That is about the average commute these days. That’s better, easier to grasp. And besides, that duct tape was starting to get tight.

But we run wires on both sides of the canopy to catch the shoots in the trellis. So, 38.5 miles of canopy requires 77 miles of wires and enough hands to tuck each and every shoot into its rightful place in the canopy. And then here is the kicker - we run three sets of wires. So this is how 38.5 miles of canopy magically turns into 231 miles of wires to control and manage the canopy at Amalie Robert Estate. (We really shudder at that thought.)

Right. While the duct tape is still in place, let’s run the numbers for May. Then you can get cleaned up and comb your hair back into place before anyone notices the swelling.

The month of May logged 224.3 degree days, with a high temperature of 90.1 and a low temperature of 36.3 degrees Fahrenheit. This brings the growing season to date total from April 1 through May 31 to 225.6 degree days.


The 2017 vintage marks a significant shift to the cool side from the 2016 vintage where May recorded 277 degree days for a growing season to date total of 441.9 degree days. While the data supports no conclusions as of yet, we may be witnessing a return to cool climate viticulture circa 2005 and 2007. If only…

We have had plenty of liquid sunshine so far this year, and the month of May added another 1.23 inches. That’s nice and also very good for the new vines to help establish their root systems. And the cover crop is just growing like the little weeds they are! On the other hand, Ernie has been watching the grass grow out of control. As the sole tractor driver, he also gets to cut the grass. He always remarks on how much grass he has to mow in order to make wine. It just boggles his brain!


Kindest Regards,


Dena & Ernie

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