Cline

Our Roots Run Deep

Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay may seem ubiquitous in Northern California’s wine industry, but it wasn’t always that way. Seeing the old vineyards near his grandfather’s ranch in Oakley, California, Fred Cline learned that wine growers 100 years ago preferred Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mataro (Mourvedre) and Carignan – often planted together in one vineyard as a “field blend.” Because this pattern is found in old vineyards throughout the state, it must have been a conscious choice among winegrowers back then. They must have understood that Zin and the Rhone varieties perform better under California’s dry but variable conditions than the finicky, slow-ripening Cabernet. These vines can thrive without irrigation (a.k.a. “dry-farming”) and the blending of grapes with different qualities would have ensured that the finished wine attained a proper balance of sugar, acid, ripeness and tannin.

In order to pursue his interest in Zinfandel, Rhone grape varieties and old vineyards, Fred Cline founded Cline Cellars near Oakley in 1981. The Ancient Vines bottlings are made from grapes grown in these low-yielding, Contra Costa County vineyards. In 1991, Cline moved his winemaking facility to a large ranch in Carneros, the cool, wind-swept district just north of San Pablo Bay between Napa and Sonoma counties. Even though Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate the vineyards here, Cline decided to plant Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane and has proven that even in a cool climate these varietals can develop intense but elegant fruit and perfume. A more recent acquisition lies near Petaluma, in Sonoma County, and Cline Cellars has now added Pinot Noir to its roster of Zinfandel and Rhone reds and whites.

A focus on Zinfandel and Rhone varietal wines has not always been easy, but Cline Cellars has repeatedly earned accolades and critical acclaim. Over the years, many of the Zinfandels and others have earned 90 points and up in the Wine Spectator, and Wine & Spirits has called the Ancient Vines Mourvèdre “one of the top 100 values.” It doesn’t get much better than this: hand-crafted wines from sustainably-farmed vineyards that are intimately connected to California’s winemaking history. The wines of Cline Cellars are deep and rich with elegance, complexity and flavor AND available at reasonable prices.

Wine Maker

Charlie Tsegeletos

Country

USA

Region

California


Photo Gallery



Wines from this Winery


2016 Cline

Cline’s Old Vine Zin in the 375 ml bottle solves that problem of what to do when only a glass or two of of a fine red wine are called for. The grapes for this rich and complex red wine come come from several old vineyards located in the Mokelumne River AVA, one of Lodi’s seven sub-AVAs.  Located at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley, the region has been producing wine grapes since the 1850s and is renowned for distinctive, voluptuous Zinfandel. Abundant heat on long summer days is balanced by cool nights, an ideal condition for growing excellent Zinfandel grapes. By carefully selecting and blending the fruit, Cline produces a lush and juicy Zin in which fruit, acidity and tannin and in excellent balance. The rich berry flavors and smooth structure suggest excellent pairing with bold-flavored foods such as penne putanesca, grilled meats or chili con carne.

Details »
¥1,550
2018 Cline

Cline’s Farmhouse label celebrates the Green String Farm in Petaluma, a center dedicated to studying methods of farming that are "beyond sustainable." These same methods guide the viticultural practices at Cline Cellars so that the vineyards will remain bountiful for decades to come. Farmhouse 2018 consists of Zinfandel, Syrah, Carignane, Mourvèdre, and Grenache. Oak barrel aging integrates the flavors and other components, producing a wine that’s bright but full-bodied with jammy berry flavors and soft tannins. It's hard to believe such a fine and distinctive wine is available at such a reasonable price! Try this with a steak - beef or tuna would satisfy equally - or a rustic pasta with plenty of mushrooms.  

Details »
¥2,000
2018 Cline

With Farmhouse, Cline Cellars takes the art of blending to the next level, assembling a bright, crisp and rich white wine from the likes of Pinot Gris, Muscat Canelli, Palomino, Chardonnay, Viognier, Arneis, Marsanne and Roussanne, grapes that in Europe would never find their way into the same tank. Cline’s Farmhouse brand honors the Green String Farm in Petaluma (about 15 km from Cline Cellars), where a “beyond sustainable” philosophy of agriculture is taught to students from around teh world. Since 2001, Fred Cline has been farming the Green String way, using no pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers; controlling weeds with sheep and goats, and encouraging friendly insects to prey upon harmful ones. It’s a crisp, bright wine that delivers great value for the price. Farmhouse White pairs well with appetizers such as ripe tomatoes and mozzarella, salads with extra-virgin olive oil, Asian cuisine and fish dishes.

Details »
¥2,000
2018 Cline

Lodi may be less familiar than Sonoma County or Napa Valley, but this laid-back, non-touristy district been producing wine since the 1850s. Located at the northern tip of the San Joaquin Valley – east of the Bay Area – Lodi is considered the Zinfandel Capital of the World because it produces over 40% of California’s premium Zin. The grape thrives in Lodi’s summer climate of hot days and cool nights. And because of the unique sandy soils, the ancient vines escaped the ravages of the phylloxera louse and remain planted on their own vinifera roots. The grapes for this rich and complex red wine come from several vineyards planted in the 1940s and 1960s in the Mokelumne River AVA, one of Lodi’s seven sub-AVAs. By carefully selecting and blending the fruit, Cline produces a lush and juicy Zin in which fruit, acidity and tannin are in excellent balance. The rich berry flavors and smooth structure suggest excellent pairing with bold-flavored foods such as penne putanesca, grilled meats or chili con carne. 

Details »
¥2,200
2018 Cline Sonoma Coast Syrah

While Syrah has made it’s way into vineyards throughout California, only the influence of a cool climate will bring out a delicate perfume of violets, pepper and savory spice. Cline Cellars sources its Syrah exclusively from estate vineyards in Sonoma’s newest AVA, the Petaluma Gap, where the climate gives the wine fresh acidity, pure fruit and a vibrant mouthfeel. Take in the aromas of black pepper and savory herbs, flavors of licorice, olive and boysenberry and try not pour a second glass! Cline fans may notice the change in appellation (from Sonoma County to Sonoma Coast), the redesigned label and the more substantial bottle. The wine seems heftier, too, with more structured acidity and serious tannins holding up the myriad flavors. What hasn’t changed is the price, making Cline’s Sonoma Coast Syrah one of the great bargains around today!

Details »
¥2,200
2019 Cline North Coast Viognier

A finicky grape that’s not easy to grow or to make into fine wine, Viognier was all but lost in the 1960s, when only a few vineyards remained in the northern Rhone Valley. But Viognier had qualities too alluring to ignore, and interest in the grape revived to where it now occupies a modest but unignorable niche in Australia, North America, Chile, and southern Europe. In order to develop the desired floral aromas, stone fruit flavors and full body, Viognier grapes require a climate that will produce enough - but not too much - ripeness. The fruit in this offering was sourced from eight vineyards across the AVA, from Mendocino to Carneros and the Sonoma Coast. Warm days and cool nights produced a full-bodied wine with vibrant flavors, a lush mouth-feel, crisp finish, and mouth watering acidity that would pair well with Gruyere or Camembert cheese, sushi, or tarragon chicken. 

Details »
¥2,200
2018 Cline Rose

Mourvèdre is a late-ripening grape that thrives in the hot, dry climates of southern France and Spain. In Cline’s Oakley Vineyard, Mourvèdre was planted over 100 years ago in the windswept, well-drained, sandy soils of the Sacramento River delta. Low yields are a feature of ancient, head-pruned vines, but the fruit is dark black with bright and intense flavors. Cline Cellars uses traditional Provençal methods to make this “blanc de noir.” A gentle crush and immediate pressing produces the lovely salmon color while avoiding astringency. Served well-chilled, this Rosé Mourvèdre will perk up a weekend lunch or refresh parched throats on hot summer evenings. Try it with tropical fruit salad, Provencal-style chicken or grilled salmon.

Details »
¥2,600
2017 Cline

Fans of wines made from California’s heritage vineyards should check out this wine. The Carignane vines that produced this this dark, spicy gem were planted in the sandy soils of Oakley in the first half of the 20th century. Planted widely in Southern France and Spain, Carignane is seldom bottled as a varietal wine. Naturally high in tannins and acidity, it is used to add color and body to red blends. But these head-pruned vines dry-farmed in the Oakley terroir produce fruit with stunning concentration, ripeness and dimension. With dark berry and plum flavors, spicy aromas, this Carignane is rich, ripe and full-bodied; an excellent match with for grilled meats or pizza with goat cheese.  

Details »
¥3,000
2017 Cline North Coast Roussanne Marsanne

Vintners in the Rhone Valley have long known that Roussane and Marsanne are fantastic blend partners, able to combine into a white wine that’s delightfully aromatic yet rich and well-bodied. While Marsanne provides depth, body, richness and nuttiness, Roussanne adds acidity as well as floral and fruity aromatics. The result is a rich and elegant wine to be enjoyed with meals. Both varieties are rare in California. The Marsanne comes from a small corner of Cline’s Carneros estate while the Roussanne is sourced from vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and the cool Petaluma Gap. The combination of citrus, tropical fruit and full-bodied vitality suggests smoked fish, grilled salmon, or even curried or stir-fried dishes. Cline is one of a handful in California making wine from Marsanne and Roussanne; those looking to move beyond the typical whites should give this one a try!

Details »
¥3,000
2018 Cline

Cline's Ancient Vines Mourvèdre embodies the notion that affordable wines need not be ordinary. In fact, this wine is so good - and has such a great story - that you can take it to dinner parties and impress your friends. An important component in Spanish and Southern French blends, Mourvèdre's heyday in California was in the early decades of the 20th century. Cline's Mourvèdre vineyards in Contra Costa County are relics of that bygone age. Sandy soils allowed the vines to be planted on their own European roots without succumbing to the Phylloxera louse. The warm but windy climate around the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers allows these grapes to get fully ripe while retaining acidity and freshness. Soft tannins and lush, concentrated plum flavors make this wine a wonderful accompaniment to grilled lamb, wild mushroom ragout or peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin.

Details »
¥3,000
2018 Cline

Contra Costa County may not spring to mind as an ideal locale for wine growing, but this isolated area near Oakley, along the Sacramento River delta, is home to some of California’s oldest and most unique heritage Zinfandel. Because the sand has kept out the deadly phylloxera louse, the vines are planted on their own roots, a practice that has gone the way of the horse and buggy throughout most of the world. The moderating influence of the Sacramento river delta encourages the gnarled vines to produce grape clusters with a great balance of acid and fruit. These vines are head-pruned and dry-farmed, much as they were by the Italian and Portuguese farmers who planted them originally. Organic, low-intensity farming and a hands-off approach to winemaking produce Zinfandel of stunning concentration. The 2018 is a multi-layered delight of spicy, bright strawberry flavors, topped with notes of espresso and dark chocolate. Try it with slow-cooked BBQ pork or a spinach mushroom casserole.

Details »
¥3,000
2018 Cline

“An indulgence you can afford” is how Cline Cellars describes this silky & smooth blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Syrah. We love its enchanting flavors, notes of pepper and versatility around grilled salmon or duck or pork. While modeled on the soft, juicy-ripe, perfumed reds of the Southern Rhone, it nevertheless asserts its California identity with its seductive color and intense fruit flavor. The Mourvedre and Grenache were sourced from dry-farmed vineyards in the Oakley region of Contra Costa County, while the Syrah grew in the cool hills of the Sonoma Coast. Each variety added something unique to the whole, whether the chocolate and cherry flavors of the Mourvèdre, the softness of the Grenache or the tannic structure and berry fruit of the Syrah. 

Details »
¥3,000
2017 Cline Los Carneros Syrah

Straddling southern Napa and Sonoma counties, Carneros features rolling hills planted largely to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. But the cool climate and clay soils turn out to be a fine terroir for Syrah. The estate features a foggy and windy hillside vineyard that ripens slowly over a long growing season, producing grapes with concentration and flavor. These conditions produce the wine’s awesome savory character of cracked black pepper and flavors of black cherry and chocolate that may remind one of the great Syrah wines of the Northern Rhone. Obvious pairings would include a juicy steak or spicy Moroccan Chicken, but thinking outside the box might lead one toward grilled salmon or sautéed vegetables served over pasta.

Details »
¥3,300
2015 Cline