Tempranillo adds zest to Northwest wine scene

By on July 27, 2014
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Joe Hattrup grows Tempranillo in Washington's Rattlesnake Hills.

Joe Hattrup grows some of the best Tempranillo in Washington at his Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Tempranillo, the primary red grape of Spain’s Rioja region, has been planted in the Pacific Northwest since at least 1995, when Earl Jones at Abacela put his first vines in the ground in the Umpqua Valley near Roseburg, Ore.

From there, the rustic and robust red variety has spread throughout the Pacific Northwest into Washington, Idaho and British Columbia – albeit in small amounts. In Oregon, fewer than 400 acres are planted. In Washington, the tonnage is not yet large enough to be measured separately.

However, winemakers and wine lovers alike are beginning to appreciate Tempranillo, and we are seeing more and more bottlings of the wine. And it is a versatile food wine. A few favorite pairings include:

  • Paella
  • Enchiladas
  • Grilled portobello mushrooms
  • Moussaka
  • Lamb chops
  • Prime rib
  • Meat lovers pizza
  • Bacon cheeseburger
  • Lasagna

Following are a few Northwest Tempranillos we’ve tasted recently.

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.


  1. Ray Grinberg

    July 29, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    What about Daven Lore Tempranillo?

    • Andy Perdue

      July 29, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Hi, Ray. We tasted the DavenLore 2011 Tempranillo about nine months ago and enjoyed it. This list includes Tempranillos we’ve tasted more recently.

  2. Mark Stanley

    July 30, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Andy
    I have been making Tempranillo from the Sugar Loaf Vineyard almost every year since 2008. Every vintage has been good. This is a variety that has great potential for WA. The Sugar Loaf site is superb, but I think it is doing well in other WA areas as well. The varietal expression here in WA seems to be more fuller bodied than the typical Rioja or Ribera.
    WA Viticulturests–plant Tempranillo!
    P.S. Look for my new book to be published in August on Amazon “Creating World Class Red Wine” by Mark Stanley

    • Andy Perdue

      July 30, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Mark, thanks for the note. Sugarloaf is a terrific vineyard, especially for one that is so young. We’re seeing a lot of wines carrying the Sugarloaf designation.

      And we’re excited to see where Tempranillo goes in Washington. It’s unlikely to ever be a major player, but it could well be a niche role player, much like Sangiovese and Grenache.

    • Jeff Gordon

      August 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      I agree with Mark. The first time I tried our Tempranillo I noticed a bigger body. I would caution people on getting sold on this variety. We may like it here but you get out of the Northwest, for the most part, people want Spanish or South American Tempranillo, not something from Washington.
      Jeff Gordon

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