Cline Cellars

Cline CellarsEverything Old is New Again

As you enter Sonoma county from the south on California 121, one of the first wineries you encounter is Cline Cellars, and there could hardly be a better introduction to the Carneros AVA.

Even as a young teenager, Fred Cline learned to make wine from his grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi (yes, he of the hydrotherapy tub, as well as many other innovations). With a $9000 inheritance from Valeriano, in 1981 Cline founded the eponymous Cline Cellars in Oakley, California.

The winery was relocated to its current location in 1991. The property is the original site of the Mission San Francisco de Solano, the 21st and final of the historic California missions. Although the mission was moved in 1823, the Cline tasting room is located in a rustic 1850s farmhouse that is original to the property, surrounded by spring-fed ponds and thousands of rose bushes. The vineyards also reflect this history, with vines ranging from 80 to 120 years old.
Cline is one of the first of the pioneering Rhone Rangers, a group dedicated to wines from the grapes of the Côtes du Rhône in France (ironic for a boy with an Italian grandfather, no?)

Cline also has been a pioneer in sustainable farming. It is the second-largest completely solar-powered winery in California. Natural cover crops are used to nourish the soils, sheep and goats roam freely as they graze on weeds, and compost teas are used as fertilizer. “We’d be considered ‘organic’ if we wanted to follow the rules of the government,“ said Cline. “We are actually more sustainable [than the law calls for] by not following their organic rules.“ He calls his methods “beyond organic.”

Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvèdre Rosé 2017

C’mon! Don’t be afraid! Summer’s here, and what could be better than rosé? There are all kinds of dry, crisp expressions available, absolutely none like the dreaded cloying White Zinfandel of days gone by. This selection is an excellent place to start.

Fresh herb and strawberry aromas are followed by tart watermelon and just a hint of lemon peel and thyme flavors in this medium-bodied, smooth, and rather soft-textured wine.

Excellent as a well-chilled aperitif, or pair it with raw oysters, lobster Newburg, or planked salmon.

Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2017

The grapes for this Zin were planted by Italian and Portuguese immigrants in the sandy, phylloxera-resistant soils of Oakley, California, more than 100 years ago. Ancient, indeed. This dusty-ruby colored wine is lively and supple, with raspberry and baked stone fruit aromas. Tart cherry predominates on the medium-full body, complemented by medium tannins, moderate vanilla oak, and just a hint of pepper.

Serve this up with venison sausage and smoked gouda pizza, Kentucky burgoo, or barbequed duck.

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