© 1999 - 2013 Amalie Robert Estate, LLC
Amalie Robert Estate
2011 Winery of the Year
Amalie Robert Estate Profile - Wine & Spirits Magazine
25th Anniversary Buying Guide - Winter 2011
It is our pleasure to let you know that Amalie Robert Estate has been chosen as a “Top 100 Winery of the Year” by Wine & Spirits Magazine! It was the 2007 Syrah*, the 2007 Amalie’s Cuvée*, the 2008 Estate Selection and 2009 Heirloom Cameo* that put us in the ring. Each wine hit the 93 point “wineglass” ceiling. Not so bad, and it gives us something to work on for next year. (Note: * Also denotes a “Year’s Best” selection.)
We first learned the news on July 28th, the night before we were a featured winery in IPNC. Of course, we couldn’t tell anybody until September 15th. Keeping the “cat in the bag” was easier than getting it in there, but still a daily challenge.
The first thing we did was make a list of everyone we wanted to tell (the naughty list.) The next morning we put that list in the cook stove, aka shredder, and started a different list of who we wanted to thank (the nice list.) Nobody succeeds in the wine business alone and there is something to learn from everyone.
Our first most deserving mentor was Bill Gates who said, “Go big or go home.” He also provided us with an opportunity to compete on the world stage of business and enjoy the financial rewards of our efforts.
The other 80% of life is just showing up and underlying that is believing in yourself. While we chose humble beginnings with a cherry orchard, we had the benefit of not buying someone else’s vineyard mistakes. This provided us the opportunity to make our own. An opportunity we did not squander and provided us so many learning opportunities that have shaped our viticulture and wines.
The ¡Salud! Pinot Noir auction was the key event that put us on a slippery slope. We met the founding fathers of the industry and enjoyed their wine. Dick Ponzi’s words ring as true today as they did back then when he offered: “Don’t spend any more money than you can afford to lose.” Thanks Dick.
We are often asked how we learned how to make wine. Our response is that throughout our careers, the most important thing we learned was how to learn. With three bachelor’s degrees and an MBA between us, we spent plenty of time with the books. In Oregon, we swapped books for boots, but the thirst for knowledge only intensified.
Dick Erath deserves credit for saving Ernie from planting his Syrah in the wrong place. One blustery March day, they were walking the soon to be planted vineyard, and Ernie pointed out where he was going to plant the Syrah. As Dick saved his hat from a strong gust of wind, he asked “What’s wrong with down there, where the trees aren’t swaying in the wind? It will be more sheltered and warmer. You will have a better chance of ripening Syrah. Not that you will ripen it, but you will have a better chance.” Thanks Dick.
Ernie said, “I will know it when I see it, and I knew it the moment I saw Bruce and Ginny’s Leland Vineyard.” Bruce Weber maintains his vineyard like the national treasure that it is. At just 5 acres, planted in 1982, he is a one man show that maintains the utmost in quality. As Ernie explained to Bruce the eventual 30 acre size of Amalie Robert Estate, Bruce acknowledged the amount of work we were in for. As we looked into the manicured reality of his vineyard, Bruce said, “You won’t be able to farm that many vines like this.” Ernie picked up that nugget and put it in his pocket. As Ernie designed (and continually modifies) the vineyard program, Bruce’s dedication to wine growing excellence is a constant reminder of what could and should be done. Thanks Bruce.
Steve Doerner was Ernie’s biggest influence in growing Oregon Pinot Noir wine - whether Steve will admit it or not. Our most treasured Burgundy wines are from Domain Dujac. These wines are lithe and floral, present body and flavors without weight, and are in a word, ethereal. This was the reason we were drawn to Steve’s similar winemaking style. It took some doing, but Ernie finally convinced Steve that we had 15,000 not 15 vines in the backyard and were looking to sell those grapes. That was 2002 and we continue to be the beneficiary of Steve’s gift of time. Thanks Steve.
If you want it done right, do it yourself, so Ernie hired Ernie to build the winery. Ernie Munch (ERM) came with two of the best recommendations you could ask for: He’s demanding and he built Dick Erath’s house. Not to mention, ERM is the wine industry’s “go to guy.” Ernie Pink (ERP) explained what he wanted and told ERM, “I understand you are the best, and I don’t have time for anything else.”
ERP knew that experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. After planting the vineyard, ERP wasn’t in the market for any more experience. ERP wanted to steward his efforts from the vineyard into bottles. While we still can’t find the elevator ERM promised ERP, we are rewarded every harvest with a building that suits our needs and allows us the flexibility to implement “undocumented features.” Thanks Ernie.
We wish to extend our gratitude to you. We are constantly inspired and encouraged by the comments you share and the time you take to visit with us. We do our best to share our stories and images and keep you in touch with the vineyard and cellar happenings. Someone once remarked how verbose we were in our communications. Ernie responded, “Our readers have long attention spans. They think about E-mails like we think about roast duck and chanterelles. If there is not enough there to keep you busy for 30 minutes, why bother?” If you have made it down this far - Thank you.
“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with you.” Bob Dylan certainly has insight, even though he was not in the wine industry. At the end of the day, it’s just the two of us - We are Amalie Robert Estate. While there is always more to do than hours in the day (remember this is farming), we try and carve out a little personal time. We have a glass of Satisfaction (Syrah that is) and remember the other thing we learned from Bill Gates: It is better to be lucky than good.
Dena and Ernie
You can view the full list of the Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 here.
Wine & Spirits Magazine - 25th Anniversary Buying Guide
Here’s our tweet if you don’t follow us on Twitter:
It was the night before IPNC and we were just getting packed,
Then an E-mail arrived and no excitement it lacked!
It said “Amalie Robert Estate is a Winery of the Year!”
The ramifications of which soon became clear.
You’ve got to hold the news, say not a bit,
But Dena let out and said “holy cit!”
But the time is now and the world can know.
Oregon reigns supreme from Syrah to Pinot!