Amalie Robert Estate Situational Review: Living the Dream
Hello and Welcome,
We have arrived at the 7th month stretch, Willamette Valley Vintage 2022. Much of Vintage 2022 has gone well. We did have a cool spring, but no ice storm. Then late June warmed up considerably forcing the Pinot Noir vines to bloom, but we did not get to 100 degrees – yet. The odd power outage now and again introduces some spontaneity into the daily routine. We are living the dream… so you don’t have to.
There is, however, some consternation in the equipment corner. The Collard hedger is one helluva piece of farm equipment. And therein lies the rub, it is in fact farm equipment. And as such, Murphy’s law applies. To wit: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time." And so, it did.
If you are looking for an alternate perspective on Amalie Robert Estate, check out this article, Amalie Robert Estate shines in the shadow of Mount Pisgah, written by Michael Alberty for The Oregonian/OregonLive on July 18, 2022.
The Big Picture
It’s just as green as the day is long. That’s our Big Walnut tree. It is actually 7 massive trunks that make up that tree. Most likely a squirrel’s nest at some point, long ago. Quite possibly a Red-tailed Hawk was soaring majestically when their two worlds collided.
The squirrel, who has since passed on (or through), did leave a marker on Amalie Robert Estate. The leaves of that mighty tree begin to senesce just about the same time that we begin the Great Cluster Pluck. And we still have Red-tails soaring majestically over the vineyard. If you are lucky, and your timing is good, you may be able to catch some Red-tails racing across the vineyard during your tasting appointment.
Winemaking: The Continuation of Terroir by Other Means.®
This is our Brand Terroir. The repository of our farming history at Amalie Robert Estate. We have over 200 posts going back some 20 years. It’s all out there on Substack. More than you would ever want to know about the agrarian endeavor of farming wine. It's a FLOG communication (Farming bLOG). Check us out on Substack, your subscription is FREE! If you want to see what we see on a more regular basis, follow us on Instagram @AmalieRobert. FREE! It's all FREE!
Planning to enjoy traveling again and exploring the Willamette Valley? Amalie Robert Estate is open year round by appointment for vineyard tours and tastings. Request a tasting appointment with your preferred day and time.
Amalie Robert Estate Open House THIS Weekend!
The winery will be open this weekend, July 23rd & 24th, from 10 am - 3 pm by appointment. Request a tasting appointment with your preferred day and time. Your appointment may collide with a soaring Red-tailed Hawk. We are a dog friendly site, but it's a best practice to keep small dogs close by.
If your plans have you somewhere other than here, the Big Blue Button can co-locate our wines with YOU. Flat rate ground shipping is in effect for the continental US. We suggest a UPS or FedEx drop point to allow you to pick up your wine at your leisure. AND shipping is included on all wine orders over $350! It's better on the A-List. Please email Dena at firstname.lastname@example.org for shipping options to Alaska and Hawaii.
The Main Story
And the vineyard is also looking very healthy. That 13 inches of soil moisture from April through June really enabled some impressive growth. Ernie was able to hedge a few rows back to normalcy before the “Dual Effect” hydraulic cylinder failed. It is a French implement mounted onto an Italian tractor. What could possibly go wrong?
Proper vineyard management relies on doing the right thing, at the right time, in a timely manner. We have been going full out trying to harness the vines’ growth in our 7 trellis wires. As longtime readers know, we implement a Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) trellis construct. The mismatch is that our vines do not possess a vertical growth habit. They grow out a foot or so and then flop over. Slackers…
That means vineyard workers are needed to position our shoots all by hand. This takes time. And the more the vines grow, the more time it takes. It is rumored in some industries that work expands to fill the time available. In the vineyard space, time expands to fit the work available.
This means long days and some weekend shifts are required to position our shoots within the confines of the trellis wires. Then and only then, can Ernie apply a little tough love and hedge off the extraneous growth.
What Does This Mean and Why Should I Care
Hedging is the turning point in the vintage. Hedging removes the shoot tips, but leaves about 90 vertical inches worth of leaves along with 2 or 3 clusters of wine berries (which are looking quite stunning by the way.) With the shoot tips cut off, the vine redirects its energy to ripening its seeds, so it can reproduce. This is a strong motivator in many plants and animals.
The process of ripening seeds is where major changes in the wine berries occur. The first thing we notice is the wine berries begin to turn color from dull green to pink. Depending on the variety, they eventually turn honey yellow in Chardonnay, Plum Crazy purple in Pinot Noir and gun metal blue in Syrah. Gewürztraminer turns the cheeriest holiday pink-red. All of this occurs under the watchful eye of the resident population of robins and starlings. Which in turn are being monitored by our raptor aviary of Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks.
Once their true colors are revealed, we notice that the wine berries are building sugar concentrations. They are also reducing their malic acid concentrations by metabolizing malic acid for energy. This combination of increasing sugar concentration and reducing acidity is the expected ripening trend. And they begin to smell and taste good. The deer notice this as well.
If we have a very hot fall with desiccating winds, the sugar concentrations will continue to increase. But the acid concentration will not go down. It will also increase. This is due to the wine berry losing water due to desiccation from the sun and wind. Also, from the vine translocating water back to the leaves because there is no available soil moisture in the rootzone. We have seen that movie in the early and hot vintages of late.
Vintage 2022 was late to flower with an expected harvest window beginning on October 10th. The odds favor a cooler fall for the last few weeks of ripening. This would be typical, however it’s not over until it’s over. For now though, Ernie is waiting on a replacement cylinder and a repair window to get his hedger back in service. And THEN, we are going to make a serious impact on vintage 2022!
Dena & Ernie