Stopping in Sonoma (Cline Vineyards)

| September 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Andy Abernathy –

This trip to California took us to Sonoma Valley and Carneros, where we visited Cline Vineyards.  Charlie Tsegletos, previously at Benziger, has been the wine maker here for 8 years. Our host was Larry Holman, VP of marketing and sales. (Pictured, left, between ABC Exec. VP Jess Bailes and COO Andy Abernathy)




This is beautiful property with a view of the Mayacamas mountain range (separates south Sonoma from south Napa valley).  View of the Mayacamas range, looking toward south Napa Valley.

Cline has three different vineyard properties in Sonoma. The first is the “winery estate vineyard,” which is on property with the tasting room. They’ve recently modernized with proceeds from sale of Red Truck Wine.

We started our visit with a tasting of Cline viognier….. They produce 25000 cases a year.  $10 range. They used to barrel ferment this wine, but for the past three years they’ve been fermenting in stainless steel for a clean, crisp style. BOLO for this—it may be available at ABC soon.

The Sonoma vineyard is basically organic since 1999. They practice sustainable farming and use mostly sheep to keep the vineyard rows weed free. They have a very small carbon footprint, using 2100 solar panels at the main vineyard and several hundred more at the other vineyards. They produce all the electricity they consume and even sell some back to power companies.

We saw full veraison (the ripening of the grapes)—this is early September, so weeks later than usual ….some farmers in the valley are just starting to harvest.  Only hand picked fruit goes in Cline wines, although some fruit is picked mechanically if they sell it to others (such as LaCrema).

They own and run a quirky vegetable farm and school called “Greenstring.” It is a very rustic school where they give hands-on teaching in farming. The students don’t get paid but get room and board and the program runs three months at a time. They grow vegetables on the farm and sell them at their own farmers’ market at the 900 acre “lazy p vineyard”….which will be the site of their new winery (currently in permitting).  They also have 65 acres of olive trees at the “lazy  c vineyard,” which is planted in Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

Just across the street from the Cline main winery and tasting room they also own the brand new (three years old) Jacuzzi winery, which specializes in Italian grape varieties. Jacuzzi currently is only available in a few California retailers and most sales are at the tasting store. Jacuzzi got its name from Fred Cline’s Italian grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, the inventor (along with his brothers) of the Jacuzzi pump and founder of the Jacuzzi company.

We tasted several wines including Zins from 130 year vines and mourvedre called “small berry mourvedre” from 150 year old vines.

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Category: Wine Zombie Articles

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