Abacela 2017 Estate Fiesta Tempranillo
By Great Northwest Wine, January 13, 2021
Rated "Excellent" - In many regards, there are two wines released each year that serve as the Northwest’s emblematic expressions of Spain’s signature grapes Albariño and Tempranillo. Both hail from Abacela – the country’s commercial-scale launching pad for both varieties – and here’s the red example of the style reminiscent of the Ribera del Duero. Billed as fresh and fruity, Fiesta is the approachable ambassador of Tempranillo while offering lots of layers with gusto. Founding winemaker Earl Jones’s research with Clone 2 Tempranillo is seen as the key to this program. There’s an inkiness to the nose of elderberry and brambleberries, but also a spicy gaminess bringing pinches of cumin and sage. A deliciously massive entry of bold purple fruit gathers up some musculature on the midpalate that leads out with a nibble of Western serviceberry in the finish. Suggested pairings include chorizo, Manchego cheese and anything off the grill.
Top 20 Northwest Wines of 2020
By Eric Degerman, The Seattle Times, October 2020
No one in the Northwest matches Earl Jones’ devotion to Iberian Peninsula varieties, and this fortified dessert wine from Southern Oregon is dense, fruit-forward, fresh and complex with dark purple fruit, sweet herbs and nuttiness.
Region’s fortified wines provide sweet warmth on chilly nights
By Eric Degerman, HearldNet.com, October 20, 2020
"This past summer, 48 Northwest wineries submitted samples for Wine Press Northwest’s first large-scale judging of fortifieds since 2015. Abacela winemaker Andrew Wenzl earned four “Outstanding!” ratings for the Jones family, including the Abacela 2014 Estate Port, which topped the judging."
Timber to Tempranillo; Father Of Tempranillo
By Noelle Laury, Urban Link Magazine, October 2020
"When most experienced wine connoisseurs think Tempranillo, they think Spain – and rightly so! Wine makers had been struggling to create a delicious and competitive Tempranillo in the US for a hundred years before Earl Jones decided to get into the wine industry. But Mr. Jones realized that a critical detail was being overlooked by other..." Watch the Interview with Earl Jones.
Triumph of Tempranillo; Abacela honors 25 years of leading an American-Spanish wine revolution
By Sophia McDonald, Wine Press Northwest, October 1, 2020
Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Earl Jones planted a dream in the Umpqua Valley. ...he applied his skills and tenacity as a researcher to a new quest: finding the best place in the United States to grow Tempranillo."
Abacela Winery 2019 Estate Grenache Rosé
By Great Northwest Wine, October 1, 2020
Rated "Outstanding!" - As much acclaim as the Jones family has merited for its work with Albariño, Tempranillo and Port programs, they’ve also earned five career Platinums from Wine Press Northwest magazine via its rosé. That success began with the 2008 vintage – Andrew Wenzl’s first as head winemaker. His latest example has qualified for the 2020 Platinum via gold medals at three West Coast competitions, and our panel would agree with those awards. The festive color waves you in for some fun and tickles the fancy by bringing hints of pink grapefruit, Rainier cherry, honeydew melon and strawberry/watermelon. Its structure is compelling, clean and refreshing with a raspberry finish that’s ideal for tapas. This fall, 25% of Abacela’s sales of this rosé, its Albariño and Syrah will be donated to the Greater Douglas County United Way for wildfire relief.
Abacela tops spirited tasting of Northwest port-style, fortified wines
By Eric Degerman, Wine Press Northwest, September 23, 2020
"Earl’s comment; "Abacela entered five port style wines and won 1st place (2014 Vintage Style Port) and three more highest ratings and one excellent rating. Thus 5 of 5 Ports rated excellent or better."
Nine All-American Grenache Rosés
Wine Enthusiast, August 12, 2020
"This is a powerful fruit-driven wine..." 2019 Grenache Rosé - 90 points. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.
Outside the Box - Loyal patrons react to “new normal”
By Paul Omundson, Oregon Wine Press, August 1, 2020
"Abacela, where owners Earl and Hilda Jones first introduced Tempranillo to Oregon, is in the midst of celebrating its 25th birthday..."
Cycling Series: Part 5, Umpqua Valley
By Dan Shryock, Oregon Wine Press, August 1, 2020
"Cycling the Umpqua Valley should include a visit to Abacela Winery..."
Bringing Tempranillo to Oregon - An interview with Earl Jones
By Liza B. Zimmerman, Forbes.com, July 22, 2020
"Trying to grow and bottle varietal Tempranillo, a wine that had never been successful in the U.S., was risky but science is a solid guide and today 25 years later everything we grow on our estate is site climate matched." -Earl Jones
Oregon Wine, What We're Drinking - 2015 Abacela Reserve Tempranillo
By Michele Francisco, Winerabble.com, July 10, 2020
"Wow, this wine is complex! ...It’s built for aging, so don’t hesitate to lay a bottle or two in your cellar to enjoy in the next decade."
Wine, etc.; Tempranillo In Oregon
By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, Capital Gazette, June 24, 2020
Comparing Wines Made From Tempranillo Grapes
By MoreAboutWine.com, SouthFloridaReporter.com, June 21, 2020
"Tempranillo in Oregon too... We’re suckers for a good story"
Wines to Know; Abacela 2019 Grenache Rosé
By Karen MacNeil, winespeed.com, June 5, 2020
"...we liked this Abacela from southern Oregon for going up against some pricier, fancier competitors–and still tasting the best!"
Oregon Wine, What We're Drinking - 2015 Abacela Reserve South Face Block Syrah
By Michele Francisco, Winerabble.com, May 30, 2020
Oregon Wine, What We're Drinking - 2017 Abacela Tempranillo Fiesta
By Michele Francisco, Winerabble.com, May 24, 2020
The Innovative and Delightful Wines of Abacela
By Frederick Thurber, SouthCoastToday.com, May 22, 2020
"These wine are really exceptional; I don’t think I have ever tried a winery’s lineup that was this perfect, from top to bottom."
Great Northwest Wine: Reach for rosé at any time, anywhere
By Eric Degerman of Great Northwest Wine, The Spokesman Review, May 2020
[Brand-Wagon] From Timber to Tempranillo
By Noelle Laury Urbanlink Magazine, May 2020
Tempranillo For Two In The Umpqua Valley
By Margarett Waterbury for Travel Oregon, May 2020
After an early-morning departure from Portland, our first stop is Abacela, Oregon’s tempranillo pioneer, with the hope that founders Earl and Hilda Jones can help shed some light on how and why tempranillo first took off in the Umpqua. By Margarett Waterbuy
Oregon Wine, What We Are Drinking - 2019 Albarino
Winerabble.com, May 2020
If you have a hankering for the tropics, you must buy this wine! If I had only one word to describe the Abacela Albariño, it would be passionfruit! Thankfully, I’m not limited to just one word, but wow, this wine brings me right back to Hawaii!
Abacela Vineyards in Umpqua Valley, Oregon: A “Special Pocket of the World” Where Spanish Varieties Flourish
Grape Experiences, April 25, 2020
"What I discovered during our conversation was that Earl Jones, forthcoming and friendly, intelligent and innovative, is an undeniable force in the wine industry."
Drinking With Esther - Abacela Tinta Amarela Umpqua Valley 2016
SFChrinicle.com, April 17, 2020
This southern Oregon winery has been a leading producer of Spanish- and Portuguese-style wines for decades, and it continues to make solid renditions of Tempranillo, Graciano and Albariño, among other wines. But I was particularly excited to try this Tinta Amarela, a Portuguese grape variety that Abacela owners Earl and Hilda Jones believe they were the first in the U.S. to bottle as a varietal wine. I’m sure I’ve had Portuguese red blends, including Ports, that have included Tinta Amarela before, but I’d never tasted it on its own. Abacela’s version is densely structured, with forest berries, graphite and cocoa powder flavors.
Abacela appoints Gavin Joll to General Manager
WineBusiness.com, April 2020
Abacela is pleased to announce that Gavin Joll will start as General Manager May 1st, 2020. Gavin, a native Oregonian and graduate of Willamette University, has worked in the wine industry since 2004, including thirteen years as the General Manager of White Rose Estate in the Dundee Hills.
Oregon Wine, What We Are Drinking - 2019 Grenache Rose
Winerabble.com, April 2020
Abacela, located in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, is celebrating 25 years of winemaking! Owners Earl and Hilda Jones traveled all over the world, searching for a prime location in which to grow Tempranillo, finally landing in Roseburg. This rosé is made using Grenache fruit from their estate vineyard.
Why Wine? An Interview with Earl Jones of Abacela Winery
By Michelle Francisco, Winerabble.com, March 2020
Look at homegrown products to avoid tariff woes on imports
By John McDonald, Cape Gazette, January 20, 2020
"Umpqua Valley near Roseburg. Here I like Abacela. They live outside the Oregon box and produce wine normally associated with Portugal and Spain: Tempranillo, Albarino, Dolcetto, Tinto Amarela, Graciano, an excellent Malbec and Port. All are grown in small, defined lots on the slopes of a cone-shaped foothill for maximum terroir effect. Clever viticulture. Barbara and I visited in 2016. Their vineyards and buildings were very carefully groomed. Always a good omen. Their Barrel Select Malbec rated 91 McD, 2011-15 around $30/bottle. Abacela also does a good job with big bottles for those who like unique."
Cheers to these 2 Roseburg wineries: Gerry Frank's picks
By Gerry Franks, The Oregonian, July 14, 2019
"When Earl Jones and his wife, Hilda, adopted Oregon as their home in the early 1990s, Oregon’s small wine industry had already earned an international reputation for great pinot noir. But the Joneses had come to do something different."
Great Wines for 2020, Part II
By Lou Phillips, Tahoe Weekly January 21, 2020
"Abacela Vineyards and Winery in Roseburg is a thought and action leader here with multiple, different wines each vintage, the majority of which are out of the box and, more importantly, delicious. It also farms some of the steepest vineyard terrain anywhere; one vineyard is Chaotic Ridge Parcel, which along with climate and soils, translates into real terroir in the bottle." Read full article
The Nittany Epicurean Review
By Michael Chelus, Read full article
"We're headed back to Abacela to enjoy a red wine that really blew me away."
Oregon’s Iberian Connection
By Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast Read full article
"Tempranillo is the leader here. Its introduction signaled the start of a spreading Iberian influence initiated by the Abacela winery more than two decades ago."
Ready, set, tempranillo!
Growing successes at Roseburg’s Abacela prompt more domestic vintners to experiment with bold Spanish red
The Science Of The Soil: The Abacela Story
Built Oregon, Mitch Daugherty, August 4, 2018
10 Top Wines To Serve To Your Next Dinner Guests
Abacela's 2017 Albarino listed in Forbes.com's 10 Top Wines!
Abacela Appoints Paula Caudill to National Sales Manager
We are pleased to announce that Paula Caudill is being promoted to Abacela’s National Sales Manager effective November 1, 2018. Many of you have come to know Paula through the years via emails, phone calls, and in person at the winery. She has been and will continue to be a great asset for Abacela since 2002. Paula replaces Sarah Waring who will be leaving Abacela after 3+ years of outstanding leadership building the Abacela brand on a national level. We wish both Sarah and Paula the best in thier new adventures.
Does Southern Oregon Need (or Want) a Signature Grape?
By Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, October 24, 2017
“Currently, the best option for Southern Oregon is Tempranillo. In Spain—especially the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions—Tempranillo produces exceptional, expressive wines. Yet, unlike the Rhône grapes that have proliferated in the western U.S., Tempranillo remains almost invisible as a varietal wine.” PDF
Oregon Wine Press - Cellar Selects; "Blanc? Check!"
2016 Albariño, A cornucopia of fruit. Peach dominates the aroma followed by pear and jasmine. A slight, pleasantly perfumed bitterness leads to lime, dragon fruit, nectarine, tangerine and apricot flavors, ending with a fleshier, fruitier finish.
Wine Business Monthly
Varietal Focus: Tempranillo
Earl and Hilda Jones.... "They planted their first grapes in Southern Oregon in 1995; and after 22 years, they are one of the foremost producers of Tempranillo in the New World." Read the full PDF.
The Changeup: Goodness Graciano - A trip to Spain with a sip from Southern Oregon
By Michael Alberty Oregon Wine Press
A decade ago, when traveling to Spain to explore as many wine regions as possible, I toured from the desert sands in Jumilla to the lush green hillsides of Galicia. Consequently, I developed quite a passion for Spanish wine and food culture, which is why my curiosity was piqued when I learned a winery in Oregon was making wine with Graciano, one of the rarest red winegrapes in Spain. It was no surprise to discover the winery was Abacela, where founder Earl Jones and his head winemaker, Andrew Wenzl, craft some of the finest examples of Tempranillo and Albariño in the New World. I couldn't drive to Roseburg fast enough. more
SIP Northwest Magazine; Just Desserts, Sweet Wines of the Pacific Northwest
Strength in Numbers: Fortified Bottlings
Abacela Winery in Southern Oregon's Umpqua Valley produces two dessert wines in this traditional style with Portuguese grapes. Earl Jones, owner of Abacela, says the sloping hillside microclimates of his valley are quite similar to that of western Portugal's main dessert wine region, the Douro Valley, where Port is produced. For that reason, he grows classic Portuguese varieties like Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Bastardo, Tinta Cão and Touriga Naçional; five of the over 30 varieties allowed in Port production. - Sipping Sweets 2013 Estate Port, This beautiful wine is inky dark in the glass with aromas of black cherry, dark plum, brambleberry, dates, savory spices and dark chocolate.
Great Northwest Wine Review
Outstanding!, Vintner's Blend #16
"The robust Spanish grape Tempranillo is the historic headliner at storied Abacela in Southern Oregon, and so it understandably makes up essentially half of this Mediterranean-style blend that calls upon 11 varieties. Syrah is the next grape up (21%) for winemaker Andrew Wenzl, who used it to create remarkable balance while toning down the tannins. There’s still ample grip, yet there’s an abundance of fruitiness to match. The nose features hints of black currant, cherry and lingonberry with touches of caramel corn and oregano. Inside, blackberry jam and bittersweet chocolate flavors are joined by tannins reminiscent of espresso grounds, which are led out by a raspberry cream finish." 3/14/2017
Wine Enthusiast Reviews
Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, April 2017
91 points, 2014 Fiesta Tempranillo
"Fiesta is the lightest, most fruit forward of the four different Tempranillos from Abacela. In a great year such as this, it's also substantial and authoritative, with deeply driven flavors of red and blueberry fruit, a whiff of oak and slightly grainy tannins. This wine clearly over-delivers for the price."
90 points, 2014 Barrel Select Graciano
"Rare in Oregon (or anywhere this side of the Atlantic), this Graciano pushes a mix of pomegranate, cranberry and raspberry fruit front and center. It dips in the midpalate, then re-gathers with a mix of tea, coffee grounds and dark chocolate wrapping up the finish. Put this ringer into your next tasting of Spanish wines and you'll stump everyone."
90 points & Editors' Choice, Vintner's Blend #16
"Roughly half estate-grown Tempranillo, this smooth and deeply-fruited red includes small amounts of 10 other grapes. For all that it's complete, complex and composed, with pomegranate jam, loganberries, polished tannins and prolonged power. Drink now through 2020."
Top 12 NW Tempranillos
Oregon Business Magazine names Abacela in "100 Best Fan-Favorite Destinations in Oregon"
Promise fulfilled at the First Oregon Tempranillo Conference
By Randy Caparoso, The Tasting Panel, June 2016 Read more
Abacela Featured in the Wine Spectator
Syrah Stars in Southern Oregon, By Harvey Steiman, June 15, 2016
Back to Oregon for some outstanding wines
By John McDonald | May 16, 2016 Cape Gazette
Great Northwest Wine Review
Outstanding!, 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo, Great Northwest Wine
"The Northwest Tempranillo master has proved his expertise once again. Earl Jones' Abacela estate grapes from 2013, put into the capable hands of winemaker Andrew Wenzl, were used in this fruit-forward wine aptly called Fiesta. And you'll want to start a celebration of your own after sampling it. Its nose opens with mint, spicy oak and nimble cherries. In the mouth, the cherries are dark, dipping down toward dark Marionberry skin, then unearthing Abacela estate's minerality and grippy tannins. It’s a huge mouthful – “Yuuuge, I tell you” – that calls out for a rare ribeye amply dusted with cracked black pepper. This earned a double gold medal at the 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition."
Abacela, Bunnell stand out at Pacific Rim International Wine Competition
Best of Class & Gold Medal 2015 Grenache Rosé
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Abacela in Southern Oregon and Bunnell Family Cellar in Washington's Yakima Valley each were awarded three gold medals Thursday at the 31st annual Pacific Rim International Wine Competition in Southern California. Eight wines from the Pacific Northwest captured best of class honors at the two-day fundraiser for the National Orange Show. One of those BOC awards went to Abacela winemaker Andrew Wenzl for the latest vintage of his perennially popular Estate Grenache Rosé made from the Fault Line Vineyards of Earl and Hilda Jones. Two other wines from the 2015 vintage – Albariño and Muscat – also went gold.
Great whites from 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition
Gold 2015 Muscat: Annually, Abacela crafts one of the most beautiful and graceful Muscats in the Pacific Northwest. This new vintage is no exception, thanks to aromas of rosewater, lavender and clove. On the palate, it offers flavors of lychee, pink grapefruit and Golden Delicious apple. Its 3% residual sugar and gentle acidity make this a delicious and approachable sipper.
Gold medal reds from 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition
Double Gold, 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo
The Northwest Tempranillo master has proved his expertise once again. Earl Jones’ Abacela estate grapes from 2013, put into the capable hands of winemaker Andrew Wenzl, were used in this fruit-forward wine aptly called Fiesta. And you'll want to start a celebration of your own after sampling it. Its nose opens with mint, spicy oak and nimble cherries. In the mouth, the cherries are dark, dipping down toward dark Marionberry skin, then unearthing Abacela estate’s minerality and grippy tannins. It’s a huge mouthful – “Yuuuge, I tell you” – that calls out for a rare ribeye amply dusted with cracked black pepper.
Top wines from 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition
Best Dessert/Gold 2015 Blanco Dulce: Southern Oregon winemaker Andrew Wenzl crafted a beauty of a dessert wine here, using estate Albariño that hung on the vines and accumulated sweetness well past its normal harvest time. Aromas of honey-glazed apricot and intense Christmas spices lead to flavors of candied orange peel, poached peach and vanilla ice cream. It is a stunning dessert wine. Read more.
Abacela awarded People's Choice at Greatest of the Grape Wine Gala
Best Wine 2012 Northwest Block Reserve Malbec and Best Wine & Food Pairing with K-Bar Steakhouse. Read more.
Abacela earns four 90+ point reviews from Wine Enthusiast
93 Points & Cellar Selection, 2012 Northwest Block Reserve Malbec; 92 Points & Editors’ Choice, 2012 Barrel Select Syrah; 91 Points & Editors’ Choice, 2013 Barrel Select Malbec; 90 Points, 2013 Barrel Select Tinta Amarela; WineMag.com. April 2016 Issue
Get to Know a New Side of Tempranillo
Tempranillo Bottles to Try. By Rachel Singer, Eater.com. February 2016
Terroirist.com: American Tempranillo
92 points, 2012 Abacela Tempranillo Barrel Select Estate. Read the full article on Terroirist.com. February 2016
A little bit of Spain taking root in Oregon
Lovers of the Spanish wine varietal called Tempranillo can take heart that this grape is taking root in the soils of Oregon. By Victor Panichkul, Statesmen Journal. February 2016
Southern Oregon wines' gaining clout could bring onslaught of tourists
The winsome wines of Southern Oregon are gathering acclaim far beyond the Cascades and Siskiyous. Read the full article. January 2016
Southern Oregon named 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations
Abacela is mentioned as a must-see winery in Roseburg. Read the full Wine Enthusiast article. January 2016
Northwest Tempranillo continues to shine
Abacela's 2013 Fiesta Tempranillo and 2012 Barrel Select Tempranillo highlighted by Great Northwest Wine. January 3, 2016
Abacela makes Top 100 Wines of 2015 list
Our 2012 Fiesta Tempranillo made Great Northwest Wine's "Top 100 Wines" of 2015 list!
140 year old vines discovered at Abacela
Abacela discovers 140-year-old Mission grape planting on estate. Read the article. November 26, 2015
Abacela Releases #UmpquaStrong Wine to support the UCC Relief Fund.
Abacela proudly presented Ellen Brown, of the Umpqua Community College Foundation, with a check for more than $18,000. The money was raised by the spontaneous generosity of our bottle, glass, cork, label and capsule suppliers and the Abacela staff and owners for the bottling of #UmpquaStrong. 100% of the proceeds of this bottling went to the #UCCReliefFund (Umpqua Community College). The wine sold out in less than 48 hours, but you can still donate at Greater Douglas United Way.
Statesman Journal; Oregon wines for Christmas dinner
Abacela's 2012 Barrel Select Syrah was chosen by the Statesman Journal as a top wine to have with your Christmas roast.
Portland Monthly; Oregon's 25 Best Wines Under $25
Abacela's 2014 Albariño was chosen by Portland Monthly Magazine as one of Oregon's 25 Best Wines Under $25. Read the article. September 21, 2015
Earl Jones celebrates more history at Abacela
Great Northwest Wine by Eric Degerman on May 27, 2015. Read the article.
8 Excellent Oregon Varieties That Aren't Pinot Noir
Northwest Spain and Portugal's native grape, Albariño, in Oregon results in a fruitier wine than a typical Rías Baixas version. The best examples also show appealing minerality and crisp, ultra fresh flavors of celery, jícama, cucumber and a dash of daikon radish. Abacela, the Umpqua winery that pioneered Tempranillo in Oregon, has perfect Albariño, keeping alcohol levels low and acidity high. Read the full Wine Enthusiast article.
2015 American Winery of the Year Nomination
Abacela is one of five wineries nominated by the Wine Enthusiast for their Wine Star Awards "2015 American Winery of the Year". Read the article.
Northwest Wines: A few 2014 Northwest rosés to tuck in your fridge
Our 2014 Grenache Rosé is featured in The Bellingham Herald.
The Beauty of the Blend; Oregon's red blends come together to produce a tapestry of flavors that will improve your dining experience. Our Vintner's Blend #14 is highlighted.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Earl and Hilda Jones were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Oregon Wine Board at this year's Oregon Wine Symposium. Read the press release.
Greatest of the Grape
Our 2012 Malbec wins a Gold Medal from the professional judging and runner-up Best Wine & Food Pairing.
Wine of the Week for February 7, 2015, 2011 Dolcetto
Oregon Wine Press
"Value Pick" February 2015, 2011 Dolcetto and 2011 Malbec
2013 Albariño featured in the article Offbeat grapes making their way in American vineyards
Umpqua Valley: Only Hours From Napa, but a World Away
By Rachel Levin, The New York Times, July 6, 2014
Wine: Try rosés from Oregon: 2013 Grenache Rosé
Sip Northwest Magazine
"Daily Sip" by Erin James 2013 Albariño
2013 Grenache Rosé is a "Heavy Hitter" by Jon Bonné.
Oregon Wine Press
"Value Pick" July 2014, 2013 Grenache Rosé
Oregon Wine Press
"Value Pick" June 2014, 2013 Viognier
Great Northwest Wine
#14 of "Top 100 Wines", 2012 Albariño
James Melendez, JamesTheWineGuy.com
Top 100 Wines of 2013, 2009 Estate Tempranillo
The Passionate Foodie
"2013: Top Wines Over $50", 2005 Paramour
"Southern Oregon Wine of the Week" 2012 Albariño
"Top 100 Wines of 2013" 2012 Albariño
The Seattle Times
"Top 50 Regional Wines" 2012 Albariño
Taking risks in retirement, October 2011
"Abacela Syrah is Southern Oregon's First 95-Point Wine" March 09, 2009 Read the Article Here
"In an historical perspective, 95-point wines are rare. An online examination of data from wines reviewed in the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator revealed that together these two highly respected magazines have tasted approximately 10,000 Oregon wines of which they rated only 20 wines from just 12 Oregon wineries at 95 points or higher. None of the fruit for these wines was sourced, nor were any of the producing wineries located south of Oregon's famed Willamette Valley, known for world-class pinot noir"
When a meal calls for a big, bold red wine, most people reach for a bottle of merlot or cabernet sauvignon. But tempranillo, made with grapes of Spanish origin, is increasingly accessible to even those who like to stick to Oregon wines.
Tempranillo is the most-planted grape variety in Spain. It produces rich, darkly colored wines that are renowned the world over. Some of the best ones come from cool-climate growing regions where nighttime temperatures are dramatically lower than those in the daytime. Those conditions help the wine develop greater acidity, which adds balance and structure.
That familiar-sounding growing requirement is what got Earl Jones, owner and general manager of Roseburg’s Abacela, thinking about growing the grape in Oregon in the 1990s. Before he became a leading producer of American tempranillo, he was a research scientist who had developed a deep fondness for Spanish wines during his extensive travels in Europe. He couldn’t understand why no one in California had made a significant investment in them. Many French grapes had easily made the transition to a new country. Why couldn’t Spanish varieties do the same?
Climate and site critical
When Jones started looking into that question, he got his answer relatively quickly.
“In Spain they grow tempranillo in a different climate than exists in most parts of California,” he says. The growing season in many of California’s prolific wine regions is nine months, not the six and a half months needed for quick-ripening tempranillo. “The other aspect of climate that’s important is that even though it’s really hot here in Southern Oregon in the day, at night it will cool back down into the fifties.” That also was necessary for producing age-worthy, award-winning wines.
Jones put his research skills to work investigating what part of the country would be best suited for growing tempranillo and other Spanish grapes. He and his family decided to try their luck in Oregon.
But not just any site would do. Within one region or even a single vineyard, different sections can have vastly different microclimates, soils and sun exposure. All of those things affect what types of grapes will express themselves best. Jones and his wife, Hilda, knew they needed a place with well-drained soils, good sun exposure and close proximity to a valley to pull down colder air and minimize the risk of hard frosts. The perfect site was on the outskirts of Roseburg in a spot they called Fault Line Vineyards.
They planted their first vines in 1995. Two years later, their tempranillo won its first international award — and the American version had made its first notable appearance on the world stage.
Since that time, Jones has inspired growers all over the country to follow in his footsteps. He estimates there are 100 tempranillo producers in Oregon and as many as 200 more in Washington, California, Texas, Virginia and New Mexico. Around 70 percent of the plantings in Oregon are in the southern part of the state. Scattered vineyards in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge also are dabbling with the grape. The 2017 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Report puts the total harvested acreage of tempranillo at 319 and the value at more than $2 million.
By Sophia McDonald Bennett For The Register-Guard
Posted Nov 21, 2018
Vintner's Blend #16 Appellation: Umpqua Valley The robust Spanish grape Tempranillo is the historic headliner at storied Abacela in Southern Oregon, and so it understandably makes up essentially half of this Mediterranean-style blend that calls upon 11 varieties. Syrah is the next grape up (21%) for winemaker Andrew Wenzl, who used it to create remarkable balance while toning down the tannins. There’s still ample grip, yet there’s an abundance of fruitiness to match. The nose features hints of black currant, cherry and lingonberry with touches of caramel corn and oregano. Inside, blackberry jam and bittersweet chocolate flavors are joined by tannins reminiscent of espresso grounds, which are led out by a raspberry cream finish. Rated “Outstanding!” by Great Northwest Wine. (13.7% alc.) Price: $18 Cases produced: 2,486 Food pairings: Enjoy with anything pulled off the barbecue. Wine Press Northwest