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September 1, 2017 | 11:13 AM

Wine Business Monthly's September 2017 digital edition is now available  

Tempranillo and Trials

One of the features that sets Wine Business Monthly apart is the Varietal Focus reports we publish twice a year. They’re a cool reference tool, and can be found in the online archives. We’ve published more than a dozen, covering most major varieties, blends, sparkling wine, and Rosé. This month’s issue features a Varietal Focus on Tempranillo.

In the report, Lance Cutler and the participating winemakers get into the details of making Tempranillo, talk about stylistic goals, about the specifics of what they do to achieve those goals, and also about challenges with Tempranillo: high pH, tannins and vigor. Tempranillo is widely planted throughout the world, it’s the fourth-largest variety in terms of planted acreage, but not that much Tempranillo is made in the U.S.

According to our database, 451 wineries, or just 5 percent of the 9,091 U.S. wineries currently make Tempranillo. Two hundred are from California, 76 are from Oregon, 54 are in Washington and six are from Idaho. (note, there are also 65 wineries making Tempranillo in Texas). Our Tempranillo report contrasts wines from Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Lance thinks Tempranillo might be the next big thing and, you never know, he might be right.

Another feature of WBM that sets it apart is an emphasis on vineyard and winery trials. This month we report on a screw cap trial that focused on how different levels of O2 affect a wine’s fruitiness, freshness and other characteristics. The winemaking team held in-house sensory analysis sessions and discussions, but also wanted feedback from peers, so shared the wines with ultra-premium winemakers during the annual Innovation + Quality conference. The session at IQ also included useful discussion of the things that can go wrong with screw caps on the bottling line—things to look out for.

Barrel trials are the most common of all winery trials but our resident curmudgeon suspects that barrel trials all too often are set up in a manner that precludes useful results. So he’s got a few pointers this month about setting up a successful barrel trial.

Topping off this month’s issue are results of a trial where the winemaker fermented separate lots of grapes in both stainless steel and wood barrels. There was a noticeable difference in extraction and aroma and flavor profiles between the two trialed lots. That trial, and more than 70 others we’ve collected so far, can also be found in the Trials Forum that just launched at It’s a space where winemakers can share trials so that others can learn from their findings. Here’s to finding the next big thing, to useful winemaking trials and to a successful 2017 harvest.

Cyril Penn – Editor


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