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The current trend for all things Rhône-like was not what started Fred Cline down the Rhône varietal path more than twenty years ago. Fred's leap of faith from the traditional, well-trodden Cabernet route stemmed from his belief in the "magnificent old vines that were in my own backyard". While it has not been without struggle, Fred's vision has certainly paid off, and as a result, Cline Cellars now bears the reputation for producing some of the finest Rhône-style wines and Zinfandels in California.

Oakley – Ancient Vines
The Oakley ranch, situated 40 miles east of San Francisco, is home to Cline’s Ancient Vines - some of the oldest and most rare grapevines in California that range in age from 80 to 120 years old. One hundred and forty acres of varietals such as Mourvèdre, Carignane and Zinfandel are harvested each year. While Contra Costa is typically hot, the vines around the town of Oakley are in a viticulturally blessed sector, one that experiences daytime heat and the moderating effect of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, which significantly reduces the temperature at night. Cline's Mourvèdre and Carignane are planted in small blocks of gnarly, head-pruned vines in sandy soil. These growing conditions heighten the intensity of the fruit and forces the old vines to struggle to produce one to two tons per acre. The sandy soil also successfully inhibits the dreaded louse, phylloxera.

Carneros – The Estate
In 1991, the winery relocated from Oakley to the gentle rolling hills of the coveted Carneros appellation in Sonoma. Carneros extends across the cool southern extremes of both Sonoma and Napa counties and abuts the flatlands north of San Pablo Bay (the northern-most section of the San Francisco Bay region). In the afternoons, bay winds sweep the hills, moderating the blistering summer heat. Vines are planted in shallow clay and loam soils, and produce small, tight clusters of luscious fruit with an elegant balance of piquant acidity and mineral nuances. The estate is planted to Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.

Sonoma Coast – Petaluma Gap
In the mid-1990s after fully developing the Carneros property, Fred Cline was presented an opportunity to purchase some property in Petaluma; a short distance as the crow flies from the winery. Fred quickly grasped that just as years before Carneros had been an area of unleashed potential. The climate is cooler and similar to the Alsace region of France. These vineyards are typically enshrouded in early morning coastal fog, bathed in intense midday heat and cooled by late afternoon Pacific breezes. With more than twice the annual rainfall of inland appellations, the grapes demand longer hang-time to ripen. And although the yields are smaller, like Alsatian wine, the quality is better.


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