Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel, Contra Costa County 2020

Deep ruby color; blackberry, raspberry, plum, strawberry on the nose; raspberry, strawberry, plum, black cherry, oak, chocolate, cinnamon spice on the palate.

Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel, Contra Costa County 2020

Dry; smooth, lush, pleasing in the mouth. Medium-full body. Light tannins with some acidity (3.62 pH). Grapes from vines that are 100-125 years old were largely de-stemmed and gently crushed so there was a large portion of whole berries in the must for carbonic maceration. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel to enhance flavors and color. Pressed off its skins and racked before aging in 38% American oak for one year. 14% ABV

Fred Cline marches to different drummer. While some of his generation frolicked in the 1960s, Fred learned the ways of soil and farming from Valeriano Jacuzzi—Fred Cline’s maternal grandfather and one of seven Jacuzzi brothers who pioneered in American aviation and water pumps. When you turn on a Jacuzzi in your hot tub you are enjoying his family’s work. Eschewing aircraft and whirlpool devices, Fred and his wife, Nancy, decided to go into the wine business in the 1980s.

Cline’s first mission was restoring old vines and vineyards growing Rhone-style wine vines, such as syrah and mourvèvdre. Later came attention to ancient—some more than a century old—zinfandel, and Cline became famous for its zins.

Fred & Nancy Cline

In cooperation with legendary farmer Bob Cannard, the Clines founded Green String Farm, a 150-acre working farm that produces a variety of fruits and vegetables grown on soil that is tended and nurtured without toxic chemicals. Produce from Green String is used by such culinary luminaries as Alice Waters of Chez Pannise.

Organic farming–weed control at Cline Cellars

Green String and Cline’s vineyards go “beyond organic.” They use no pesticides and herbicides. They incorporate sheep and goats for weed control (see link to video below), apply compost teas, encourage beneficial insects, apply ground volcanic cinders to replenish soils, and use whey to feed the microbiome. Cline wines are vegan, gluten free, and the vineyards are Certified California Sustainable.

A second winery, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards specializes in Italian varietals. It is located across the street from Cline Family Cellars and is modeled on the Jacuzzi family home in northern Italy. The Olive Press is one of the most recognized artisan olive oil and balsamic makers in the U.S. Tonopah Brewing Company is the only brewery in central Nevada serving American ales, IPAs, pilsners, hefeweizen, and Irish red ale, all brewed in-house. What a nice record of pleasuring diverse palates.

Author Emma Cline

One of the Cline’s seven children, Emma Cline, is a best-selling author and frequent contributor to The New Yorker magazine. You could do a lot worse than reading her work and sipping wine her parents make. Google her name to find a large amount of very entertaining video interviews with the next generation of Cline achievers.

Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel, Contra Costa County 2020 is smooth, rich easy drinker. Reserved tannins and mild acidity put the focus on dark fruits and lush mouthfeel. Pair with beef dishes cooked any way you favor; lamb; poultry—rotisserie, baked, broiled, grilled chicken; comfort foods in general—meatloaf, burgers and sliders, mac and cheese, pasta with meat and red sauces. Cheese—gorgonzola, romano, cheddar, raw milk manchego, asiago—cheese with bold flavors. $12-16

Cline Cellars website

Charming video about wooly weeders (scroll down to find it)

Cline Cellars winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos
Cline Cellars assistant winemaker Tom Gendall
Cline Cellars Vineyard
Cline Cellars winery, tasting area
Cline Cellars winery and vineyard