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Why Tempranillo? Early on Earl had found certain Spanish wines to pair well with the spicy meats and peppery foods he enjoyed. His favorite Spanish reds, from the Rioja and Ribera Del Duero regions, simply held up better than French and Italian wines to these foods. Although enjoying these Spanish wines, Earl knew little of the varieties that they were made from because Spanish wine labels provided the area of origin but never included information on the winegrape(s) utilized in its production. Later he discovered that the principal winegrape used to produce both Rioja and Ribera Del Duero wines was Tempranillo.
Later, while searching for American Tempranillo wines he was puzzled to learn that while most French and Italian winegrapes were being grown and made into excellent wines in America, there was no varietal Tempranillo being produced. This fact was confounded by California's modest production of Tempranillo grapes, which although beginning almost a century ago, was as of 1990 being relegated to the role of a blending grape for production of jug wine. Why?
Was quality limited in America by a deficit of some specific soil or climate essential or the presence in America of some occult anti-quality factor, e.g. a yet to be identified microbial or viral pest? Earl's curiosity was piqued and he saw in this vinous puzzle an opportunity to improve his understanding of Tempranillo viticulture and enology as well as visit and explore the culture of Spain. During that quest Earl and Hilda traveled to Spain and became fascinated with the culture of Castile. "Hilda and I became especially fond of their unique concept of tapas. At the days end, it seemed so remarkably civilized to sit down with friends and enjoy a small glass of wine paired with a harmonizing portion of food. What could be better?"
A combination of their new found enjoyment of Spanish culture, love for Tempranillo wines, and the exciting challenge of trying to produce a Spanish style Tempranillo varietal wine in America drove their dream of Abacela. Their passion fueled a scientific inquiry on both sides of the Atlantic and energized the planning, vineyard and winery work necessary to make the dream a reality.
Chronology of the Dream
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