Thanks primarily to some visionary grape growers and winemakers, the noble Spanish red grape Tempranillo has been coming into its own across the great Pacific Northwest.
Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley planted the first Tempranillo in the Northwest when he put some in the ground in 1993.
Earl Jones of Abacela in Roseburg, Ore. kicked off a revolution when he moved across the continent from Florida to plant a vineyard on Memorial Day 1995 in the sunny Umpqua Valley.
He not only set the standard for Oregon Tempranillo, but also the quality of his wines encouraged others to follow his lead. In 2000, Abacela’s 1998 Tempranillo received a double gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. That judging included 19 entries from Spain
Now we’re seeing Tempranillo showing well across the region, including in the high-elevation vineyards of Idaho’s Snake River Valley.
Here are a half-dozen Northwest Tempranillos we’ve tasted recently. Typically these will be difficult to find at wine retailers, so it will be easier to track them down by contacting the wineries directly.