In 1991, Fred Cline and his wife Nancy relocated their winery from Oakley in Contra Costa County to the Carneros region of Sonoma County on a historic 350-acre estate with new vineyards and facilities. While much of the cool Carneros region is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot, Fred pioneered the planting of Rhône varietals including Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. At JN we were particularly impressed with Cline’s lovely, fruity Zinfandels
Fred’s innovation and experimentation led to the production of intense, flavourful Zinfandels for which he has garnered enormous acclaim with many domestic and international awards. Since 2000, Cline Cellars has been farming according to the precepts of the Green String way – naturally and sustainably, avoiding chemical pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers. Techniques include the use of organic cover crops, compost teas, crushed volcanic rock and oyster shell, natural mined sulfur and sheep grazing.
Once every year, Cline reduce vineyard cultivation and degradation by providing the soil with organic matter to help retain soil structure, water infiltration, and microbial activity. Throughout the vineyards, compost derived from natural products such as grape pumice, vine prunings and other mature organic material is applied helping to improve the texture and depth of the soil and providing sustenance to the vine. “Compost Tea” is added to the vines via drip irrigation and also applied directly to the leaves. This tea contains molasses, fish emulsion to increase nitrogen content, rock dust, microbes and other nutrients. Other environmentally-sensitive activities include using grazing sheep to keep harmful weeds at bay. Needless to say, the use of chemicals for weed and pest control is eschewed.
Zinfandel, thought to be identical to a Croatian grape called Plavac Mali and the Italian grape Primitivo, arrived in California in the 1840s and is the third most widely planted red grape in the state. It can produce a blockbuster of a wine with fruity strawberry, black cherry and raspberry flavours.
Cline’s Zinfandel is produced primarily from 80- to 120-year-old vines from the Oakley ancient vine holdings. JN’s hottest seller is the entry-level Cline Californian Zinfandelwith the top-notch Big Break Zin being a special wine for a special occasion.
Cline’s star white wine is a delightful Viognier which offers rich and distinctive aromas of peaches, apricots, orange blossom and honeysuckle. Its rich flavour and full-bodied mouthfeel make it an ideal match for spicy stir fries, curried Thai dishes and grilled fish. Cline wine, fine wine.