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

Tom Gendall

Country

USA

Region

California


Photo Gallery



Wines from this Winery


2019 Cline

Cline Zin in half bottles provides the perfect answer to the question of how to enjoy just a glass or two of red wine at midweek! In this convenient format, nothing goes to waste.

Details »
¥1,705 (incl. tax)
2019 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 2019 consists of Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, Carignane, Syrah, Petite Sirah, 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 »
¥2,200 (incl. tax)
2019 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, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, Palomino, Marsanne, Viognier, and Gewürztraminer, grapes that in Europe would never find their way into the same bottle. 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 the 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 »
¥2,200 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline

Lodi may be less familiar than Sonoma County or Napa Valley, but this laid-back district east of the Bay Area has been producing wine since the 1850s. Responsible for over 40% of California’s premium Zin, Lodi is the true Zinfandel Capital of the World. Zinfandel thrives in Lodi’s summer climate of hot days and cool nights. And because of the unique sandy soils, vines in the older vineyards escaped being ravaged by phylloxera 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 »
¥2,420 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline Sonoma Coast Syrah

With years of practice, Cline Cellars has clearly mastered the secret to making gorgeously aromatic and succulent Syrah. The violets, coffee and black pepper on the nose - not to mention the structure and savory meaty notes on the palate — could suggest a coveted vintage from the Northern Rhone. But this is a California wine that’s priced to enjoy everyday. 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. A light but deft hand at winemaking maintains the purity of the fruit with just a short period of time in oak. Take in the aromas of black pepper and savory herbs, flavors of licorice, olive and boysenberry, and try not to pour a second glass!

Details »
¥2,420 (incl. tax)
2020 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 the grape’s alluring qualities and enthusiastic devotees slowly transformed Viognier from local hero to global C- or B-list celebrity, with acreage growing in California, Australia, Chile and Southern France. 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 »
¥2,420 (incl. tax)
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 »
¥2,860 (incl. tax)
2018 Cline

When we think of California heritage vineyards, we may imagine the backroads of Sonoma County. But Contra Costa County is home to some beautiful, long-forgotten vineyards, such as the plot of old Carignane vines, planted in the 1940s, that produced this this dark, spicy gem. Cultivated 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 »
¥3,300 (incl. tax)
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 »
¥3,300 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline

Affordable yet extraordinary – that’s Cline’s Ancient Vines Mourvèdre, a fine wine with a great story. 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 »
¥3,300 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline

Details »
¥3,300 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline Sonoma Coast Marsanne Roussanne

Rare in California, Roussane and Marsanne feature prominently in the Rhone Valley, where they are typically combined 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. The Marsanne (78% of the blend) comes from a small corner of Cline’s Carneros estate while the Roussanne (22%) is sourced from vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and the cool Petaluma Gap. Despite spending no time in oak, the wine has body along with fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Try it with 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. If you are looking to move beyond the typical whites, you should check this one out!

Details »
¥3,300 (incl. tax)
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 »
¥3,630 (incl. tax)