A Visit to Cline Cellars – Sustainable and Affordable Wines in Carneros

Cline Cellars was founded by Nancy and Fred Cline in 1982. Originally based in Oakley, California, the winery moved to Carneros in 1992 and is owned and operated by the Cline family to this day. Fred Cline learned how to make wine as a teenager from his grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, founder of the hot tub company and Jacuzzi Vineyards, which is located just down the street from Cline Cellars. Fred Cline used his inheritance and knowledge learned from his grandfather to start his own winery. Though his family is Italian, Fred Cline wanted to experiment with growing Rhône grapes in California. Today, Cline successfully produces a number of Rhône varieties, including Grenache, Carignane and Mourvedre.

Sustainability is a core value at Cline, which is a certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery. They follow the Green String Farming method, which aims to reduce soil erosion and enhance soil biological activity. A team of 1500 sheep and 500 goats roam the property during the spring, munching on weeds and removing the need for herbicides. Their methods are similar to organic farming but not exact, as Cline disagreed with some of the requirements for organic farming as actually being more sustainable. They are one of the largest wineries in the country to run fully on solar power. 

Small church and olive grove

Planning Your Visit

Reservations are not required for a standard tasting, which is $10 per person for up to 6 people per group. Group walking tours of the property take place at 11am, 1pm and 3pm daily, which you can join for free. Keep in mind that Cline can get quite busy at times, so private tastings are recommended if you want a more peaceful wine tasting experience. Reservations for private tours and tastings must be made seven days in advance and are $20 per person. Picnic tables are available for rent, which can be reserved ahead of time for $10 per person. A guided hike up scenic Syrah Hill is available on weekends during the warmer months for $55 per person. The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Tasting Room and Property

Cline’s tasting room looks like it has been transported from a southern plantation, painted fully white ringed by a covered porch. The property is riddled with fountains and willow trees, with plenty of space to wander and explore. Cline’s estate vineyard is adjacent to the tasting room, where over 300 acres of grapes are planted. Cline also owns a number of other vineyards around the Bay Area. In addition to their indoor tasting room, an outdoor tasting bar is also open during the summer. Don’t forget to stop by their small farm, where you can say hello to donkeys and other farm animals. 

The California Missions Museum is located on the Cline Property. Here, you can learn about the history and see models of all of California’s 21 missions. Admission to the museum is free. 

Donkey at Cline Cellars
Succulents at Cline Cellars
Flowers at Cline Cellars

Cline Wines

Cline is known for their Rhône varietals and Zinfandels. They also produce classic Carneros varietals such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their wines range in price from around $60 at the expensive end to around $10 on the more affordable end. However, their most affordable wines are only sold in grocery stores and not available from the tasting room. Overall, their wines are very good value and include a wide variety of styles. 

You can choose from 6 different tasting menus to suit your preferences: Classic, Flagship, Discover, California, Zin Lovers and Rhône. The $10 fee is waived with the purchase of a bottle. 

Here is what is being offered on the Classic Tasting in March 2020:

  1. 2018 Estate Pinot Gris – $18. Fresh pear, apple and lemon.  
  2. 2018 Estate Viognier – $20. Apricot, orange blossom and honeysuckle. 
  3. 2017 Ancient Vines Mourvedre Rose – $18. Peach, pomegranate, guava and grapefruit. 
  4. 2018 Ancient Vines Zinfandel – $22. Cooking spice, strawberry and chocolate. 
  5. 2017 Cashmere Black – $25. Raspberry, chocolate and black pepper. 

Final Tips

Cline’s wine club offers quarterly delivery of two, six or twelve bottles of customized wine to your doorstep. Additional wine is 25-30% off for wine club members, as well as free wine tastings and exclusive events. 

Cline’s tasting room is currently closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You can support them by purchasing bottles from their online store or grocery stores. You can read more about how to support local wineries during Coronavirus here

If you’re looking for more wine tasting to do in the area, we recommend Viansa Sonoma, Domaine Carneros, Jacuzzi and Cornerstone Garden Center. 

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