Tempranillo adds Spanish flair to Northwest wine

By on December 21, 2014
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Tempranillo has been grown in Washington since 1993.

Mike Sauer’s sign for his original Tempranillo – the first planted in the Pacific Northwest – now hangs on his shop wall at Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Two decades ago, Tempranillo was barely a blip on the radar for Northwest wine lovers, grape growers and winemakers.

Today, the robust red wine still is grown and produced in small amounts, but many wine lovers are discovering the joys of Tempranillo.

The earliest known planting of Tempranillo was in 1993 at Red Willow Vineyard in Washington’s Yakima Valley. Not long after, Earl and Hilda Jones arrived in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley for the express purpose of growing Tempranillo in what they viewed as a perfect climate for the red variety. Since then, their winery – Abacela – has led the charge for increasing interest in Tempranillo.

In recent weeks, we’ve tasted a number of Tempranillos, and we’ve been especially impressed with what we’ve tried from the high-elevation vineyards of Idaho’s Snake River Valley – an emerging region that is showing great promise with Spanish and Rhône varieties.

Here are 10 examples we’ve tasted blind from Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

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.

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