Amalie Robert Estate, Making Pinot Noir in Oregon

Dena Drews at work, courtesy Amalie Robert Estate

It was a pretty basic interview Anne was doing with Lisa Rigisich regarding the recent Pinot Days Los Angeles festival that happened at the end of January. Rigisich asked us to help Dena Drews and Ernie Pink pour wine from their winery Amalie Robert Estate at the festival.

Like we were going to say no. But not only did we get a chance to pour some insanely gorgeous pinots with Dena, and learned a lot about what they’re doing with their wines, we got to know Dena, especially, and just loved her passion.

She and Ernie started their winery back in 1999. Both were working in the technical industry – Dena was a software consultant and getting pretty tired of getting on a plane to go to work.

They found land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and planted the vineyard, finishing in April 2000. They started building their winery in February 2006, and it was ready just in time for their first estate crush in October of that same year. They grow mostly pinot noir on their 40 acres, but also have some chardonnay, pinot meunier, syrah, and viognier.

Ernie Pink and the good soil that grows their wine

Ernie also gave us one of the better answers we’ve heard when we asked why people should learn about wine.

“An educated consumer is a better consumer,” he said. “If you know what you’re drinking and why it is what it is, you can have a better appreciation for it or you can know that it’s not my style and why it’s not my style. Why other people get it is beyond me, but it’s not for me. Or vice versa. I really like the depth, I like the acidity. I like the way this pairs with duck confit. and I know why. I know there’s whole clusters in this. I know the barrel regime. I know these guys – they really manage the field. I understand what they do and why it’s done that way. People who understand those things can better appreciate the wines that they’re trying.”

So, while you don’t need to know everything about how a wine is made, it does help when you’re perusing that massive row of wines at the supermarket to know that if a wine is made in a similar style to something you know you like, you’ll stand a better chance of finding something tasty to drink. And that’s ultimately what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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