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History of Tempranillo & Chuck Hovey's Vision for Calaveras Wine Country

Updated: May 30, 2023

[August 6, 2021 - Murphys, CA] Each month, the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance hosts a Growers Education Meeting, first Fridays, 9:00-10:00 at the Murphys Hotel and online. For our August Growers Education Meeting, we had an informative discussion about the "History of Tempranillo" and its progression in Calaveras Wine Country. Sandra Hess, Executive Director of the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance, moderated the panel discussion. A big round of applause goes out to the panelists who took time out of their day to share their knowledge. The panel included Dre and Nate Vader from Vina Moda, Sally Klassen and Sonya Garrison from Hovey Winery, and Rob Hendriks from Aloria Vineyards & the CWA Board President.

575,616 acres of Tempranillo have been planted across the globe as of 2020, with over 85% in Spain, followed by Portugal, Argentina, France, Australia, and then trickling down into the United States. 31.9 tons of Tempranillo grapes were harvested in Calaveras Couty last year according to the Calaveras County Agriculture Department Study in which 60 growers were surveyed and 62% participated with a completed survey. We learned that the Tempranillo grape thrives at an elevation of 2000-3500 feet, making Douglas Flat and above ideal growing areas in our wine region. We also learned that California growers only produce .02% of Tempranillo each year. The Calaveras Wine Region is in a unique position to grow this varietal and continue to produce award-winning vintages. Chuck Hovey certainly had the vision for bringing Tempranillo to our community when he and Barden Stevenot first planted it in 1998 at the Dragone Vineyard near Stevenot Winery. Chuck went on to be awarded Gold at the 2011 "Tempranillos al Mundo International Wine Competition". The 2009 Hovey Tempranillo was one of only two American Tempranillos awarded! Chuck was a founding member of Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) and had a passion for producing this interesting wine.

Since that time the team at Metate vineyard planted the Toro Tempranillo clone from Spain and other growers including Aloria Vineyards, Cavern Vineyards, Delatreca Ranch, and Twisted Oak have followed suit with a variety of clones. Nate and Dre Vader shared how they are experimenting with two different types of Tempranillo clones including the Toro when producing their small lot releases of this delicious wine.

A well-made Tempranillo can age for about 20 years and its primary flavors: cherry, dried fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill make it a wonderful wine to pair with spicy foods as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. A must-try pairing is Tempranillo and Pepperoni Pizza according to panelist, Sonja Garrison, from Hovey Winery who lived in Spain for several years.

Today, Tempranillo is shared by our winery members at these tasting rooms: Aloria Vineyards, Allegorie, Gossamer, Hatcher, Hovey, Ironstone, School Street, Stevenot, Twisted Oak, Val du Vino, and Vina Moda. A full list of varietals by winery can be found at the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance website HERE.

To learn more about this varietal and the panel discussion, find the presentation for review HERE.

We hope to see you all at our next Growers Education Meeting taking place on Friday, September 10th, 9:00-10:00 at the Murphys Hotel and via Zoom. The focus will be on "Nematodes" - when and how to sample, interpreting the results, and beneficial vs. harmful species. Becky is an Extension Specialist and Professor of Nematology at UC Davis. Arrive early to enjoy breakfast at the Murphys Hotel Restaurant - our education sponsor. To learn more or RSVP for the CWA Growers Education Meetings, reach out to Jody, our General Manager HERE.


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