Founded in 1982 by Fred and Nancy Cline, Cline Family Cellars is one of California’s most successful family-owned wineries creating unique blends from classic varietals. Star winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos masterfully crafts cool-climate varietal wines including Zinfandel and Rhône. Vineyard conditions are monitored throughout the year to determine wine making techniques best suited to exhibiting a particular harvest’s character.
Cline Family Cellars capitalizes on Northern California’s unique mesoclimate. Situated in a region renowned for its ancient vines, the town of Oakley is only 40 miles east of Sonoma County frequently experiencing diurnal temperature fluctuations up to 50 degrees during growing season yet rarely reaching 100 degrees even at the height of summer. Cline also sources Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Los Carneros vineyards in Sonoma County and a few miles away in their Sonoma Coast vineyards.
With a firm dedication to the earth’s long-term health and vitality, Fred Cline along with soil manager Bobby Cannard developed an onsite farm and implemented Green String, a soil management system reliant on helpful microorganisms and animals instead of toxic chemicals to control pests and weeds. Over 1500 sheep and 500 goats serve as weed removal patrol in the vineyards with sheep sticking to the ground cover while goats stray to vine growth. For this reason, only goats clean out rows in February-March while sheep clean up throughout the summer months.
Sustainable fertilizing is done using a wide variety of cover crops that are plowed under between the rows as well as 3000 tons of grape pomace, tree & vine prunings, and paper goods composted with the aid of worms via a forced arobic brewer producing a “tea” that’s distributed directly to the vines’ roots via irrigation. Volcanic cinders pulverized onsite containing a wide array of trace minerals are also sprinkled on vineyard soils impacting vine variety and character. This approach may yield smaller harvests but ultimately increases fruit intensity and flavors showcased in the following Cashmere vintages:
2015 Cline Cashmere Red – an elegant blend of dry-farmed Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Syrah grown in Contra Costa County vineyards like Massoni and Big Break Vineyards. Mourvèdre vines are planted in sandy soil yielding luscious flavors of chocolate and cherry while warm-grown Syrah provides rich berry character supported by just enough tannic structure. The fragrant aromatics of vanilla cedar, spices, and chocolate are a prelude to rich peppery fruit with a velvety mouth feel made possible by soft mellow tannins. Well balanced levels of acidity and minerality showcase resplendent honeyed bramble berry and plum notes pairing well with grilled salmon, pork roast, or duck.
2016 Cline Cashmere Black Magic – An altogether darker and headier affair both in hue and character, this blend of Petite Syrah, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Grenache packs 15% alcohol that benefits from the addition of North Coast California Syrah exuding bright boysenberry with a definitive tannic structure. This purposefully blended red hits many sensations across the palate earning its Black Magic label with a restrained bouquet of liquorice and black cherry. Chunky bramble berry, cloves, and peppery tannins embrace the palate yet quickly recede into a more velvety sweet punch.
Photos courtesy of Cline Family Vineyards. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored tasting.