Standing at the gateway of Sonoma Wine Country, Cline Cellars is a beacon for those wishing to know more about California history, sustainable agriculture, and wonderful wine.
The tasting room, located in an 1850s farmhouse, stands on the site of an ancient Miwok Village. This was also the site of the first Sonoma Mission camp, built in 1823. It is now surrounded by beautiful lawns sprinkled with ponds, shade trees, and ever-changing gardens. There’s even a fascinating tribute to California’s past on site: the California Missions Museum, featuring handcrafted models of all 21 California Missions made for the 1939 World’s Fair. But it’s important not to become too enchanted by one’s surroundings when the opportunity to learn more about Cline Cellars wines waits inside.
Fred Cline and his wife Nancy established the winery in 1982 at the site of their first vineyard in Oakley and then relocated to Carneros-Sonoma in 1991. Given that the Oakley vineyard was home to some of the state’s oldest and rarest grapevines, they began by cultivating ancient Mourvèdre, Carignane, and Zinfandel. Fred believed in the future of Rhône varietals, and today Cline Cellars is known for its distinctive Rhône-style and Zinfandel wines.
Cline Cellars is also known for its environmentally conscious farming and business practices. In fact, Fred helped found the Green String method of farming, which promotes sustainable practices; the reduction of a reliance on chemical pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers; and a self-nourishing system requiring less human intervention. Sheep and goats are used routinely to weed the vineyards. The winery has also installed a solar electric system that provides 100 percent of its Carneros facility’s annual electricity needs.
Winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos works closely with the winery’s vineyard managers and has developed a stunning portfolio boasting intense, jammy reds and bright, fresh whites. The wines receive many accolades, but what’s most important to note is that Cline Cellars produces top-quality wine while staying mindful of history and finding ways improve the land.