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Thus, the "Abacela" idea was to find in America a similar climate to that of the finest Tempranillo growing areas in Spain. The "marginal" climate sought was hot enough to ripen the fruit but not so hot that it cooked out the essence of the grape. A climate which provided dry summers and cool but wet winters, relatively free of severe freezes to minimize potential cold injury to the vines.
Searches through tomes of wine books, climate records, and maps led us to the West Coast. The search ended in the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon, 11 miles southwest of Roseburg Oregon. Here, the vineyards bask by day in the hot summer sun and are cooled at night by Pacific Ocean breezes. The long growing season allows the fruit to ripen slowly and fully. Our Abacela idea, now a working winery, was christened Abacela, utilizing an old Castilian word that means "to plant grapevines."
Three substantial mountain ranges intersect to create a region of great diversity, not only in soil and topography but also climate and as a result, grape varieties.
Where the Klamath Mountains, Coast Range and Cascades converge, is the rather small AVA, the Umpqua Valley, which boasts over 150 soils in a total growing area of merely 1,500 acres. The soils range from sedimentary, metamorphic or volcanic where valley floors are deep alluvium and heavy clay and hillsides are typically silt or clay.
In the Umpqua Valley AVA, vineyards in the north are cooler and wetter; cool climate grapes such as Pinot noir, Pinot gris and Riesling do well. In the warmer and dryer south mainly Syrah and Tempranillo thrive. But growers here are not afraid to investigate new grape varieties; the region is home to over forty types.
There are two sub-AVAs within the boundaries of the Umpqua Valley: Red Hill-Douglas Country, established in 2004 and Elkton, established in 2013.
Notoriously food-friendly, long-lasting and Spain’s most widely planted grape, Tempranillo is the star variety of red wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The Rioja terms Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva indicate both barrel and bottle time before release. Traditionally blended in Rioja with Garnacha, plus a bit of Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano, the Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero typically stands alone. Somm Secret—Tempranillo claims many different names depending on location. In Penedès, it is called Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Known as Tinta Roriz in Portugal, Tempranillo plays an important role in Port wine.