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Varietal Info

Carignane is a widely planted, late ripening black grape that produces an above average yield. It prefers hot weather and can survive in very poor soils. As a result, it is grown in many countries including France, Italy, Spain, and Algeria, as well as California where about 8,000 acres exist. Most Carignane is used as a blending grape for its color and structure.

By contrast our Oakley vineyards yield a mere two tons per acre of Ancient Vines Carignane. Dark ruby in color, the wine shows aromas of plums, chocolate and cloves with a hint of dark berries. The wine is firm and rich in structure. It’s a perfect match for grilled meats, braised short ribs, even pizza with goat cheese.


Grenache is the most widely planted red grape in the world. While Grenache is native to Spain (Garnacha), it is also the leading red grape in the southern Rhône and one of the principal grapes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cotes du Rhône and Gigondas. Typically Grenache displays a perfumey, spicy nose with black currant and blackberry nuances.
We grow Grenache in our ancient vines vineyards located in Oakley, California. The yield is so scarce that we are always amazed that we get any tonnage at all but the fruit we do pick is luscious and concentrated. We use this grape in our wonderful Cashmere wine.

Marsanne is the majority white wine blender in the northern Rhone regions of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, St-Joseph and St-Péray. The French have very stringent rules as to what gets planted where. Marsanne is not permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape whereas Roussanne is. Marsanne in France often has to deal with howling winds known as le mistral which quickly cools the vines. Our Marsanne grows particularly well on our home ranch and our vineyards in the Sonoma Carneros growing region. Marsanne has minerally qualities, often with citrus notes.

Mourvèdre is an exotic grape found in the Rhône and Provence regions of France, Spain (known as Monastrell) and Australia. It is a key component in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and has a starring role in Bandol. Once widely planted in California, today only a tiny amount, approximately 560 acres, exists and Cline owns many of the historic ancient vines that remain. Mourvédre is a varietal that is late in both bud break as well as ripening. It prefers warm weather and well drained soils. Redolent of dark plum, chocolate, eucalyptus and a hint of oak, our Ancient Vines Mourvèdre is a perfect complement to grilled pork tenderloin, dark chocolate or grilled Lamb.

Pinot Gris, also known in some countries as Pinot Grigio, is a luscious grape that produces a rich honeyed, spicy and nutty wine. With its crisp fruit-forward elements of pineapple, apple, ripe pear and creamy lemon, this wine works equally well as an aperitif or as a perfect match for quiche with a butter lettuce salad, herb-crusted halibut or our Warm Chicken Citrus Salad.


Grown primarily in the northern Rhône, besides Marsanne, Roussanne is the only other white grape permitted in the region. It is a tempermental grape to grow; ripens unevenly, is prone to powdery mildew and has little resistance to wind and drought. The grape is usually chosen for its bright acidity and unique floral aroma and is often blended with Marsanne.

A Syrah is a Syrah is a Syrah and also a Shiraz but not a Sirah (Petite type)! Long associated with the northern Rhône Valley of France, Syrah has been used for centuries to produce some of the world’s finest and exotically aromatic wines. It is now widely planted in other regions of France, Italy, Australia (known there as Shiraz) and California. Syrah has the ability to form intense wines that are deep violet - almost black in color, with chewy texture and richness. The aromas tend to be more spicy than fruity and are a great addition to almost any food.

Cline Syrahs are known for their deep color, distinctive aromas, smooth tannins and robust flavors. Cline's Syrah hails from the cool climate growing regions of Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Carneros. The results are wines of surprising complexity. The deep purple color explodes with fresh blueberry and black cherry jammy fruit spiced with cracked black pepper aromas. It’s a great match for grilled salmon or Turkey Burgers.

Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-nyay) is most famous for producing the rich and exotically perfumed white wines in the Condrieu and Château-Grillet regions of northern Rhône. It was presumed to have been transported there from Dalmatia by Emperor Probus in AD 281.

Viognier is a sacred find that only the most patient and skilled of vintners may coax to life. The major demise the varietal faces is its extremely low yield. Like many other varietals, Viognier must reach a peak of maturity in order to display its extraordinary aroma and flavor character. Currently, there are approximately 1800 acres of Viognier planted in the Rhone region of France and 2,200 acres planted in California.

Cline’s Viognier offers rich and distinctive aromas of peaches, apricots, orange blossoms and honeysuckle. Its blockbuster flavor and full-body mouthfeel make it an ideal match for spicy stir-frys, grilled fish topped with fruit salsa or try it with our Curried Shrimp dish.

Zinfandel, thought to be identical to a Croatian grape called Plavac Mali and the Italian grape Primitivo, arrived in California in the 1840s and is the third most widely planted red grape in the state. It can produce a blockbuster of a wine with fruity strawberry, black cherry and raspberry flavors.

Cline’s Zinfandel is produced primarily from 80- to 120-year-old vines from our historic Oakley ancient vine holdings. We also produce a Sonoma Zinfandel from grapes grown in exquisite areas such as Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley.

Zinfandel is an excellent accompaniment to grilled meats and vegetables, Parmesan risotto or New York Steak.


For More Varietal Information, View our Rhône Varietal Power Point Presentation (Just click here)

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