While the rest of the world was in upheaval during the tumultuous days of the early 1970s,
family and tradition were very much alive on a bucolic farm in Oakley, California, as Valeriano Jacuzzi - one of the original Italian immigrant brothers of spa fame - showed his grandson Fred Cline how to tease magic from the soil. Fred learned, among other things, how to turn grapes into wine ripe with character and intensity, with full and abundant heart.
Nancy Bunting, herself the product of pioneer family roots, met Fred when they were both students at UC Davis. They married and began a humble winery in Oakley with Fred's small inheritance. Ignoring the hyped-up wine trends of the day, Fred and Nancy chose to restore acres of 100-year-old vines and produce Rhone-style varietals like Mourvedre, Carignane, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. They also planted acres of what would become legendary Cline Cellars Zinfandel.
In 1993, Fred and Nancy moved the winery to a 350-acre ranch in the famed Carneros Valley in Sonoma County. There the Clines planted Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. They opened a tasting room in the 1853 farmhouse, and renovated the grounds to highlight the history and pastoral beauty of the property.
Today, the Clines own many acres of vineyards throughout Sonoma County, with other properties in Oakley and Tehama County. Passionate about the importance of history, they own and have restored the nearby Dillon Beach Resort, the Mizpah Hotel and Tonopah Brewing Company in Tonopah, NV, and the Villa Laura in Tuscany. They also operate Green String Farm, a 150-acre working farm that produces a variety of fruits and vegetables grown on soil that is tended and nurtured without toxic chemicals. The produce from Green String is used by such culinary luminaries as Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. Their oldest son Ramsey operates the Mizpah Club, a casino and entertainment complex in Tonopah.
Cline's level of sustainability and pride in their product really made me a bigger fan of Cline than I was before.
Oakley is home to some of the oldest and rarest grapevines in California, some over 100 years old, bearing Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre, Viognier, and other Rhône-style varietals. Sandy soil, deep roots, and a climate of hot days and cool nights produce fruit of legendary intensity, character and flavor.
Grapes that ripen slowly produce more flavor, color and character. Our estate vineyards are cooled down every afternoon by the "Carneros Express," an ocean-borne breeze that helps increase the fruit's 'hang time.' Shallow clay and loam soils help the vines produce small, tight clusters. The estate is planted with Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne grapes.
These vineyards in the region known as the Petaluma Gap are draped in morning fog from the nearby Pacific, with a combination of shallow clay and deep loam blocks that make this area much sought-after for pinot noir and other challenging varietals.