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Beyond Organic: Cline Cellars

The name Jacuzzi may be most often associated with spas and hot tubs, but in the Carneros region of Sonoma, California, locals know that the family surname means great wine. Vineyard owner Fred Cline, the grandson of Valeriano Jacuzzi, began making wine even before he was even old enough to drink it. At the tender age of 13, his grandfather made sure he learned his way around a vineyard and when he received his small inheritance in 1982, he promptly started Cline Cellars and plotted their first ancient-vine Zinfandel and in 1003, they planted their family land with Mourvèdre, Carignane, Marsanne, Roussane, and Viognier grapes.

Cline Cellar's Tasting Room (Photo: Cline Cellars)

Cline Cellars has claimed dedication to sustainability and their farming processes reflect this dedication: it's one of the largest winery in California that is completel solar powered! Cline's commitment to authentic, sustainable agriculture has been unwavering for 30 years. He is careful to clarify what that means – that true sustainable agriculture requires giving to the land as much as is harvested: "50% of total biomass to feed soil, and 50% to feed humanity."

The vineyards use only non-synthetic pesticides. As Cline explained, "Just because you have pests, doesn't mean you have to get rid of them. We don't want to farm in a sterile environment." Some examples include: the usage of cover crops such as barley and oats to provide a haven for beneficial insects, the use of sheeps to eliminate weeds and the use of compost teas for fertilizer instead of petroleum-based equivalents.

Sheep and lambs at the vineyards (Photo: Cline Cellars)

Sustainability is not only good for the land; it's economical. "We're a lower-price-point operation, so we have to grow the fruit within that price point," says Cline. "We don't spend that 30-35% on pesticide and vineyard management inputs the way most farms do. The economy of natural agriculture speaks for itself." Furthermore, he adds, “People want to feel they are buying a healthy product. The sustainability practices assure our customers that they are receiving a certain quality. And once the fruit reaches the cellar, that quality control continues. We use no fining and no enzyme additions.”

A bottle of Cline Farmhouse White (Photo: Cline Cellars)

Clearly, it's working. Cline not only operates one of Sonoma's busiest tasting rooms, but also consistently wins awards. Can other farmers meet the unusually high standards Cline has championed for most of their life? That remains to be seen. For now, those standards are a crucial part of what makes Cline so distinctive.

Shop Cline Cellars wines here.

Article credits: Tree Hugger and NomaCorc

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