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.
- Winery Website: Cline Family Cellars
- Vintage: 2017
- Harvest method: By hand. These grapes were hand-harvested and delivered to the winery in excellent shape. The grapes were well colored with ripe seeds and great acid.
- Vineyard Yield: 3 tons/acre
- Vineyard notes: Grapes for our Syrah are grown on our Catapult and Diamond Pile Estate vineyards in the Sonoma Coast region. Specifically, these vineyards are located in the newest AVA, the Petaluma Gap which takes its name from the cooling afternoon breezes that funnel through the area. The winds drop temperatures and help create a long growing season. Our Syrah thrives in this environment, benefitting from a slow and even ripening that delivers bold, flavorful fruit and balanced acidity.
- Fermentation: Pumped over 3 times daily until dry
- Barrel Info: 40% new French medium toast 300 litre barrels plus a small amount of American and Eastern European oak for complexity
- Time in Barrel: 8 months
- Best Consumed: Within 5 years
This is an excellent choice to pair with oregano-rubbed leg of lamb, braised pork shank, or blackened sea bass.