Recently, Wine World (sponsor) hosted “Tempranillo and Tapas: Washington Style” a panel discussion of Washington Tempranillo wine makers and Tempranillo wine tasting. The wine makers talked about Tempranillo being an ideal food wine. That point was well proven during the winemaker reception, pairing  their Tempranillo wines and delicious appetizers from Tango Restaurant, as well as Lenny Rede’s famous paella.


Tapas from Tango

Washington Tempranillo is a bridge between new world and old world wine styles. The fruit is restrained and elegant Tempranillo and Tapas: Washington Style was a great opportunity to hear all about this delicious wine varietal and to taste some amazing Washington wine. According to the wine maker panel, Tempranillo has the potential to become Washington’s signature wine, as it shares a lot of the same growth parameters as Spain.

Washington Tempranillo

Tempranillo panel

Javier Alphonso, Don Corson and Doug McCrea

Don Corson from Camaraderie Winery, crafted a Tempranillo very similar to a Pinot Noir with subtle fruit notes and soft tannins.  Doug McCrea’s Salida Albariño and Tempranillo were delicious!  I especially liked pairing the Italian Chorizo with the Salida Tempranillo. Brian Carter, from Brian Carter Cellars poured his 2008 Corrida which is a luscious blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet  Sauvigon and Garnacha. Brian also poured a beautiful port-style fortified desert wine called “Opulento” that sold for under 20 dollars per bottle.

Amy Stottlemyer  from Stottle Winery also poured a very nice Tempranillo with a good balance of spice and fruit. Unfortunately, a distribution issue meant there wasn’t enough of Pomum Winery’s Tinto for everyone to taste. The Tinto is predominantly a Tempranillo wine blend with Grenacha, Graciano and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I look forward to tasting the Tinto soon.  Javier Alfonso, originally from Spain and the Pomum wine maker, was excited about the possibility crafting great Spanish style wines in Washington the first time he explored Eastern Washington.

Washington Tempranillo History

tempranillo tasting

Tempranillo and tapa tasting

Tempranillo began in Washington state, with just 15 vines at the Red Willow Vineyard in the late 1970s. In the beginning of this century, Washington vintners started growing Tempranillo grapes for commercial wines. Most Washington Tempranillo is grown on  Tempranillo clones from California. In 2009,  new Tempranillo and Graciano blocks custom planted and farmed for Pomum, including the very first Ribera del Duero Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) clones imported from ITACyL in Spain.

Washington Tempranillo Future

The wine makers at the first inaugural gathering of Washington Tempranillo producers are all a part of Tapas Society, an organization promoting Spanish and Portugal varietals grown in North America. With more vineyards planting Tempranillo and more wine makers using Tempranillo as a primary grape instead of minor player in blending, the future for Washington Tempranillo is wide open. The organizers hope to make this an annual event to highlight Washington Tempranillo.