Climate Update: August 2023
Hello and Welcome,
Suggested reading time: 1.15 slightly chilled ARB's (Adult Recreational Beverages)
This is the August Climate Update Vintage 2023 from Amalie Robert Estate, aka The AUG FLOG. Our mighty walnut tree is holding fast through August. We believe this collection of 7 trunks was once a squirrel’s nest. If you have visited our property, you know that red-tailed hawks nest in the nearby forest and provide sunup to sundown air cover for our ripening wine berries.
This squirrel may have been doing the right thing, saving for a rainy day. But the hawk was more concerned with living in the moment. We’ve all been there and had to make a choice. When we see the first leaves begin to turn yellow on this majestic tree, we know it is time to get out the buckets because THE GREAT CLUSTER PLUCK be upon us!
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The BIG Picture
Summer is behind us, and we have set our sights on about 100 tons of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. They are just right there, out the kitchen window where we can keep an ever-present eye on “things”. This is not to take anything away from the very special plantings of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Meunier, Syrah and Viognier that share this hallowed ground. They each have their schedule, and we have penciled ourselves into it.
But “things” happen in farming and that’s why we use a pencil. We have come to accept that as a “feature” of the agrarian endeavor, not a “bug”. With artificial intelligence and machine learning “things” can happen too. Usually on a very large scale with unintended and mostly unwanted consequences. A feature or a bug? Not quite sure. That pretty much covers “things” in the social media space.
Another unwanted consequence of farming 100 tons of wine berries is the annual unpleasantness perpetrated by the predatory social wasp. There are 4 species in the Willamette Valley, colloquially known as the yellow jacket. They appear to be called social, because they like to interact with their environment. And if YOU happen to be around their environment, they want to interact with YOUR environment.
This can easily be proven by erecting a small tent over an in-ground yellow jacket nest. During any mid-afternoon summer day enter the enclosure with a package of smoked salmon (you won’t need much for this experiment) and begin to eat it. Or at least TRY to eat it. You will very quickly notice how social these wasps can be. Aggressive and hostile too, but that is another matter.
In response, we have begun the prerequisite yellow jacket harvest. It is a feature, not a bug, of the agrarian endeavor. As this video clearly shows, we have been able to isolate these social wasps within this yellow tube. Now, you may be asking yourself how do we get them in there. What sort of harvest practice produces this result? Are they hand harvested or by machine? And furthermore, what do you do with them after you harvest them?
Many people are unaware that yellow jackets are easily captured in the wild. You simply put a bit of their preferred food inside this well-designed yellow tube, and they are predisposed to enter the tube to eat it. We find salmon or steelhead scraps simply drive them wild, they can’t help themselves. Fortunately for us, the person who designed this tube spent some time studying their habits and found they do not exit through the entry holes. Why this is, is an exercise left to the reader. We have simply accepted it as true and moved on.
Right. Now that we have about 20 of these tubes teeming full of yellow jackets, our next task is to rehabilitate them and return them to the wild. We have had some trouble in getting them to respond to our rehabilitation efforts. After soaking the traps in a 5-gallon bucket of water overnight, we find them to be mostly unresponsive the next day. So, we refill the traps, put them out and try again. Rinse and repeat, as they say…
If this seems like a little more than you are willing to take on, let us recommend another approach. It is called Pyganic. It comes as a concentrate in a very convenient 2.5 gallon jug and is OMRI listed for organic gardening.
Mix up a little in a spray bottle and just wait for the social experiment to begin. They won’t know what hit ‘em! Enjoy that smoked salmon and what the hell, have a glass of wine. Trust us, this is some really good sh#t. And a helluva lot more fun than an Epi-Pen! While not as environmentally friendly, an old fashioned aerosol can and a BIC lighter also work.
We are Living the Dream, so You Don’t Have To!
Winemaking: The Continuation of Terroir by Other Means. ® is our story. An unfinished set of autobiographical stories reflecting our agrarian endeavor, marked by “unfortunate, but not uncommon” experiences and easily referenced by vintage. Irreverently referred to as the FLOG (Farming bLOG), it captures our 20+ year journey of making a winegrowing life in Willamette Valley wine country. You can peruse our 20 year history of FLOGs here.
If you want to see what we think is worth seeing on a more regular basis, follow us on Instagram @AmalieRobert.
We are open by appointment this Saturday, September 16th. You can request a tasting appointment with your preferred time. Dena will confirm your appointment and create a tasting event specific to your party – that’s the way we do it.
Keep in mind, wine flies FREE from 32 west coast cities on Alaska Airlines. This includes our two closest airports Eugene (EUG) and Portland (PDX). Amalie Robert Estate is open year-round by appointment for vineyard tours and tastings. You can learn more about who we are and what we believe by taking our virtual tour!
Note: Your appointment may collide with a soaring red-tailed hawk. Raptors are in the air patrolling the vineyard providing air cover to our slowly ripening wine berries. We are a dog friendly site, but it's a best practice to keep small dogs close by. Perhaps consider a designated driver.
Fall shipping season is just around the corner!
It was recently reported that about half the population of the United States is on some form of medi-cation. As scary as that might seem, consider this. Half the people you encounter on a daily basis are UN-MEDICATED!
Now to be fair there are three primary groups to consider. The first group is everyone on a va-cation. These folks are mostly harmless and are really just “off the farm” trying to see the sights. However, travel is a bit touch and go, whether by air, sea, or land. Best to give those folks a wide berth when you see them. They have a way of letting you know who they are.
The next group to consider are those encamped on a stay-cation. Maybe at their primary residence or a second home at the lake. As long as a Costco is nearby, they are mostly likely set for a week or two and are not really going to bother anyone except their immediate party. They have gone to Margaritaville in their own minds – albeit the experience is different for each one. Pretty safe, as long as someone can reliably operate a blender. Phasers are all set to stun.
Now it is this last group representing the other half of the population that has our attention. They are self-prescribing AND self-medicating. As each state contributes to our collective effort to form a perfect union differently, some state's medication lists are more varied than others. Here in Oregon most anything goes, and Agritourism has taken on a whole new meaning.
If you are finding it is time to refill YOUR wine prescription for estate grown, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, we can help. The dispensary at Amalie Robert Estate is available by appointment for you to pick up your medication. Alternatively, we can legally ship a 30, 60 or 90 day supply to most states. The BIG BLUE button will take you to our formulary, where you can select the correct medication and the proper dosage for your particular ailment. While we are not making any health claims, Pinot Noir has been alleged to produce some level of euphoria when paired with a nicely prepared meal. Free cork in every bottle, too!
The Main Story
Apparently, someone spilled the beans from our last communiqué and Mother Nature caught wind of our plans. We are not naming names, or E-mail aliases, but we have no other explanation for the half inch of rain we received on the Blue Supermoon night of August 30 through the afternoon of August 31. It was, in a word, GLORIOUS! #Yayoubetchya!
And so, that changes “things.” We were not expecting any rain before harvest. But if you are growing Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and you want rain, the very best time to get it is at the end of August. This allows the vine to take up water from the soil. Our concern was that without rain, the vine would rob water from the wine berries. That concern has been abated, for now. But as we have been able to demonstrate, “things” change.
The next big concern is the heat units over the next few weeks. The forecast for September looks quite moderate. High temperatures in the 70’s and just hitting the 80’s (maybe) and lows dipping into the 40’s creates SIMPLY IDEAL Pinot Noir ripening conditions. And for those of you who still can remember the 70’s, Slow Ride is the theme song leading up to harvest 2023. If you can’t quite remember past the fog of the 70’s, then let’s just say we gotta License to Chill.
Jolly Mon Sing. If Jimmy Buffet were reading this he might just sing, “The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful.” And no matter where YOU are, it’s always a Livingston Saturday Night!
Jimmy Buffet is making his Pascagoula Run:
It's time to cross the wild meridian
Grab your bag and take a chance
Try not to fill your pants
Kids you're gonna see the morning sun
On the Pascagoula run
See you on the Flip Side, Jimmy!
Here it is. The nitty, gritty side of “things”. The first three weeks of August were on a tear from a Heat Dome and no measurable precipitation in sight. Well, “things” have changed. The last 10 days of August provided a return to the more moderate Vintage 2023 we were previously experiencing and a shot of rain across our bow. As farmers, we respond to the daily changes in climate as do the vines, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. It's a feature, not a bug...
Total Degree Day accumulation for the month of August is 646.0 Degree Days with 478.2 coming from the first 21 days of the month. Total heat accumulation for Vintage 2023 now stands at 2,073.9 Degree Days. The high temperature remains for the month 106.0 degrees recorded on August 14, at 3:48 pm, and the low temperature for the month was 47.1 recorded on August 22, at 5:12 am.
We received a total of 0.56 inches of rain during the month of August, which equates to 15,206 gallons per acre, weighing in at 63.4 tons. Now think about this. We are trying to harvest about 2.5 tons of wine berries per acre, and we just received 63.4 tons of water - per acre.
From a micro point of view, we are densely planted at 1,452 vines per acre, and that equates to about 10.5 gallons of rainwater per vine, weighing 87.3 pounds. We are aiming to harvest about 3.5 pounds of wine berries per vine. As winemakers, we will take that water and keep an eye on our Mighty Walnut Tree as we ride September 2023 hang time into The Great Cluster Pluck!
Trade Buyer Section
We believe the future is DIGITAL Wine Distribution! Say hello to WINERY DIRECT relationships, and goodbye to sales reps and warehouses.
This is the future calling! Bypass the distributor and work DIRECTLY with the winery. No longer are you constrained by what some distributor decides you can sell. Forget that! You can bypass the distributor and have DIRECT ACCESS to our FULL Portfolio!
Any Wine, Any Place, Any Where, Any Time! The wine comes DIRECTLY from our Willamette Valley estate winery delivered to your restaurant or retail door. Usually within a week, or less! And it is fully 3-tier compliant! All of the logistics and compliance rolled into one without any of the baggage! How cool is that?! ALL 👍 NO 💩!
We are currently offering DIGITAL Wine Distribution in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey and New York; and WINERY DIRECT Distribution in Oregon and Washington. If DIGITAL Wine Distribution sounds like it is too good to be true, let us show you how it can benefit you! Download our FREE DIGITAL Wine Distribution “How To” Guide.
If you are NOT in one of our DIGITAL Distribution markets, please contact Dena@amalierobert.com or your local distributor for availability, pricing or to request a sample.
Dena & Ernie
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