Spanish grape earns gold at Cascadia for full-bodied wines

Only 5 percent of the 9,000 wineries in the U.S. produce a tempranillo, including 54 in Washington.

Boise native Melanie Krause at Cinder Wines blended grapes grown in Idaho and Washington to produce a tempranillo that earned a gold medal at the 2018 Cascadia International Wine Competition. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Boise native Melanie Krause at Cinder Wines blended grapes grown in Idaho and Washington to produce a tempranillo that earned a gold medal at the 2018 Cascadia International Wine Competition. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Among the most interesting trends throughout the Pacific Northwest wine industry is the appreciation for the red grape tempranillo, the dominant variety in Spain’s famous Rioja region and one that produces deeply colored and full-bodied wines.

It is an early-ripening grape, pronounced temp-rah-KNEE-yo, that has been grown on the Iberian Peninsula for at least 2,000 years. In Portugal, it goes by the name tinta roriz, where it is a traditional part of port-style dessert wines. Globally, tempranillo is the world’s fourth-most planted grape.

In the Northwest, the first commercial planting of tempranillo was established by Earl Jones at Abacela Winery near Roseburg in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. He established it in 1995, and his wines soon began winning gold medals around the world. Thanks to this, the Umpqua Valley and the rest of Southern Oregon is viewed as the Northwest epicenter for serious tempranillo production.

Recent research by Wine Business Monthly magazine revealed that only 5 percent of the 9,091 wineries in the U.S. produce a tempranillo. That includes 54 wineries in Washington.

Here are six examples of tempranillo from across the Northwest, all of which won gold medals at this year’s Cascadia International Wine Competition. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or order directly from the wineries.

Belle Fiore Winery 2014 Reserve Tempranillo, Rogue Valley, $39: Blackberry, plum, blueberry and baking spices meld the racy acidity expected from a youthful tempranillo. Its bittersweet chocolate tannins and lovely Montmorency cherry finish begs for cheese, hummus, olives and pate.

Spangler Vineyards 2014 Tempranillo, Oregon, $28: This wine from Pat Spangler, Wine Press Northwest magazine’s Oregon Winery of the Year, creates aromas of sweet tobacco, cherry and rose petals, which lead to bold flavors of cherries, toasted oak and vanilla. The big finish of smooth tannins and touch of leather will be served well with grilled portobellos or mushroom risotto.

Cinder Wines 2015 Tempranillo, Idaho/Washington, $30: Melanie Krause, who trained at Chateau Ste. Michelle before launching her winery in her hometown of Boise, develops notes of blackberry, graham cracker, plum and nutmeg in this example of tempranillo. Bright acidity and silky smooth tannins make this an easy drink.

Maryhill Winery 2015 Art den Hoed Vineyard Painted Hills Tempranillo, Columbia Valley, $34: This marks just the latest vintage of award-winning tempranillo that Richard Batchelor has made as part of his Vineyard Series, featuring in this case, Painted Hills near Mabton, Washington. Lovely aromas of plum, blackberry and dates are nicely balanced on the solidly structured palate that makes room for a hint of mint on the finish.

Indian Creek Winery 2015 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley, $24: This past winter, founding winemaker Bill Stowe received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Idaho Wine Commission, and his winemaking son-in-law, Mike McClure, continues the pursuit of quality at Indian Creek. Their work with Idaho tempranillo produces a nose of red cherry, red currant and rose petal that carries along into flavors of cherry cola and red plum. Its tame tannins make way for a flourish of food-friendly acidity.

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Estate Winemaker’s Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, $29: There seem to be few grapes that Stephen Reustle can’t magically turn into gold-medal wines. His latest reserve temp opens with dark cherry, plum and smoke aromas. On the palate are dark cherries, purple plums, Baker’s chocolate and the bold tannins of a young tempranillo. Try it with grilled lamb or ribeye.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman operate Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at

Talk to us

More in Life

A course of traffic-cone slaloms is one way to help teens improve their driving skills. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Her teen is putting pedal to the metal for accident avoidance

She signed the new driver up for an advanced collision avoidance class taught by Defensive Driving School.

Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, now a symbol of peace and reunification. (Rick Steves’ Europe)
Rick Steves: Today’s Berlin is freedom’s victory dance

Checkpoint Charlie is now a capitalist sideshow. You’ll be sold fake bits of the wall, WWII gas masks and DDR medals.

Snohomish Historical Preservation Commission member Fred Cruger with his dog, Duffy, in Arlington along one of the history walk sections at Centennial Trail. The event will be up through September. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Discover local history as you walk the Centennial Trail

Take a smartphone quiz as you stroll the trail. If you answer every question correctly, you’ll win a prize.

We need to make suicide prevention a public health priority

The pandemic has impacted our mental well-being. Be on the lookout for suicidal behavior.

The Sauk River rushes by near a popular boat launch area close to White Chuck Mountain off the Mountain Loop Highway, just outside of Darrington. (Daniella Beccaria / Herald file)
Outdoors classes and activities around Snohomish County

The listings include Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest updates and REI Lynnwood workshops.

The “Fluffy” arborvitae has the ability to light up a Northwest landscape with its golden needles. (Proven Winners)
Gold tones of ‘Fluffy’ conifers make the landscape sparkle

It’s a new variety of Thuja plicata, native to the Pacific coast, known as western arborvitae.

Blue leadwort is a low-growing perennial that acts as a colorful groundcover for the garden. (Getty Images)
A few perennial gems to help brighten up the fall garden

He can’t help but find new treasures to plant each time he visits the nursery. Here are four he added recently.

The double-flowered autumn crocus has large lavender-pink blooms that resemble waterlilies. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Colchicum ‘Waterlily,’ double-flowered autumn crocus

This bulb features large double lavender-pink blooms that resemble waterlilies in the fall.

This French window bench was in style the last half of the 18th century. Although it was made to use by a window, it is popular with decorators today as a hall bench or a seat at the end of a bed. This bench sold for about $1,600 at an auction. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
French window bench in style the last half of the 18th century

This Provincial Louis XVI fruitwood window seat was sold at a New Orleans auction for $1,625.

Most Read