Cline Family Cellars tasting room exterior.

Cline Family Cellars in Sonoma

By Published On: June 29th, 2023

Specializing in Zinfandels, Rhône-style wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

One of Sonoma’s most storied wineries is Cline Family Cellars, once the home of a Miwok village and later the site of the first Sonoma Mission, San Francisco de Solano. It’s easy to see why this property drew California’s earliest inhabitants.

Thermal springs bubbled up from the soil, providing healing waters and irrigation for the gardens that still grace the grounds today.

Visitors to Cline Family Cellars don’t need an appointment, which makes visiting very convenient.

Winery entrance and sign at Cline Family Cellars.
Winery entrance and sign. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

A lush lawn in front of the 1850s farmhouse tasting room invites guests to enjoy a wine and cheese picnic. For more outdoor experiences, relax in their newly-remodeled cabanas overlooking the pond and gardens. Enjoying wine inside their tasting room is also an option, especially in the cool fall or winter months.

Cline Family Cellars Tasting Room.
Cline Family Cellars Tasting Room. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

The Tastings

The Cline Ranch Tasting takes place in the garden patio, where you can choose from a curated flight of their Sonoma AVA wines, or wines produced from Cline Family Cellars’ Oakley vineyards and Rhone varietals. An optional cheese plate can be added for pairing. 

Ancient Oakley grapevine at Cline Family Cellars.
Ancient Oakley grapevine. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

Club members who choose the Pendulum Club Tasting will enjoy a selection of newly released and limited-edition wines from Cline’s Single Vineyards. 

On Saturdays and Sundays, visitors can book Sip and Stroll, a 30-minute hosted tour of the gardens, grounds and winemaking facilities. 

Proprietor Fred Cline winemaking at Cline Family Cellars.
Proprietor Fred Cline winemaking. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

The Garden Cabanas tasting is a two-hour experience in a private cabana that includes a provision basket and two bottles of Cline wine.  

Cline Family Cellars Garden Cabana experience.
The Garden Cabana experience. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

Lastly, the Pondside Sips and Bites lets guests relax by one of the spring-fed ponds and enjoy a bottle of Cline wine with an optional cheese and charcuterie board or picnic basket.

Cline Family Cellars pond with tasting room in background.
Pond with tasting room in background. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

The Winemaker

Tom Gendall joined Cline Family Cellars in 2016, bringing his expertise as a winemaker in his home country of New Zealand. His assistant winemaker Katie Hoggins is also a New Zealander.

Gendall likes to think of his wines as transparent. His philosophy is that of a farmer; he gives the vines what they need to produce great fruit. “We’re not doing crazy stuff back in the winery. We farm sustainably and produce clean, classic, fresh wines,” said Gendall.

Cline Family Cellars Tom Gendall Director of Winemaking & Viticulture.
Tom Gendall Director of Winemaking & Viticulture. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

The Wines

Cline Family Cellars Classic Collection features Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made with grapes from the family’s Petaluma Gap vineyards and the Carneros vineyard at the winery.

Gendall says the vines in the Petaluma Gap produce intensely flavorful fruit thanks to the cool corridor of wind that gusts from the Pacific Ocean through the gap in the Sonoma Mountain range.

The Classic Old Vine Zinfindel, Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon round out the offerings of Cline Classic wines that are sold in stores but not online or in the tasting room.

Cline Family Cellars Petaluma Gap Vineyards.
Petaluma Gap Vineyards. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

Cline Family Cellars AVA Series showcases varietals from Sonoma’s best growing regions.

Hat Strap Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in the J. Poppe vineyard at the winery. (Poppe owned the property in the mid-1800s). The wine’s name comes from the strong winds that force owner Fred Cline to hang onto his hat strap when he walks the vineyards.

Fog Swept Pinot Noir is sourced from vineyards where the summer evening fog acts like a cold blanket on the vines. The Dry Creek Valley yields the grapes for Cline’s Eight Spur Zinfandel and the winery’s Rock Carved Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from one of the wettest and warmest microclimates in the Alexander Valley.

Cline Family Cellars Single Vineyard wines.
Cline Single Vineyard wines. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

“This is a new proposition for us,” says Gendall. “We’ve got two vineyards there, one on the valley floor – really, really hot and gravely soil. It actually soaks up the sunlight during the day and then reflects it at nighttime. Then, on the southern end of the valley we have another vineyard – a cooler spot that takes a little bit longer to ripen. It also gives us a lot of tannin, a lot of structure and a lot of acidity.”

He says when you marry the two together you get a rich, vibrant cab that tastes great now and years from now. 

Cline Family Cellars also has a Single Vineyard Series, Farmhouse Series, Heritage Collection, Seven Ranchhands (in homage to the Cline family’s seven children) and its Gust collection – wines from the windy Petaluma Gap appellation known for excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.

The Gust wines highlight the second-generation at Cline Family Cellars – the brainchild of sisters Megan and Hilary Cline and winemaker Tom Gendall.

Cline Family Cellars family members: Megan, Hilary and Henry Cline.
(L-R) Megan, Hilary and Henry Cline.

History

Cline Family Cellars opened in 1991 after Fred and Nancy Cline purchased the 350-acre horse farm and moved their winery from Oakley, California. Fred had been making wine in the warm East Bay region for several years, cultivating vines dating back to the 1880s.

Fred and Nancy Cline of Cline Family Cellars.
Fred and Nancy Cline. Photo Courtesy: Emma K. Morris.

In fact, he was one of the original Rhone Rangers, planting Rhone varietals including Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Today, Cline Family Cellars is also known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Cline family enjoying dinner and wine.
Cline family enjoying dinner and wine. Photo Courtesy: Emma K. Morris.

Family-Friendly

Children are also welcome at Cline Family Cellars, with plenty of room to romp and a pair of donkeys (Pudding and Fancy) to visit, reminiscent of the animals used at the mission until it moved to its current site in Sonoma Plaza. 

Cline Family Cellars Donkeys Pudding and Fancy.
Donkeys Pudding and Fancy. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

The winery even has a whimsical map (color crayons included) that highlights the property’s 3000-plus rose bushes, dozens of turtles and carp in the pond, the old mission bell in the garden and more.

Weddings

As the historical first location of Mission, San Francisco de Solano, an authentic Adobe Mission was built on the site in 1996. The property is officially sanctified by the Catholic Church for weddings and other religious observances.

Cline Family Cellars Adobe Mission.
Adobe Mission. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

The mission can hold up to 100 guests and features an arched stone bridge leading to a flagstone patio punctuated by lotus ponds, gardens and vineyards. There is also an expanse of green lawn that can seat up to 500 guests for outdoor events.

Cline Family Cellars even offers overnight accommodations on its 160-acre property for up to 10 guests. The Vineyard Estate sleeps up to 10 guests and includes an outdoor swimming pool and firepit.

Cline Family Cellars Estate Vineyard.
Estate Vineyard. Photo Courtesy: Cline Family Cellars.

From its beautifully manicured grounds to its celebrated wines and reverent nod to history, Cline Family Cellars is not just a winery – it’s a destination.

Related Posts:

Six Must-Visit Tasting Rooms in Woodinville, Washington

Six Must-Visit Tasting Rooms in Woodinville, Washington

Winery Interviews
Chateau Ste. Michelle, DeLille Cellars, Long Shadows, L'Ecole No. 41, and Barnard Griffin with a bonus stop for bubbles.
Read More
Santa Barbara Wine Country is a Wine Lover’s Paradise

Santa Barbara Wine Country is a Wine Lover’s Paradise

Winery Interviews
Featuring Four Wine Gems: The Hilt & Jonata, Au Bon Climat, Folded Hills and Beckman
Read More
Shafer Vineyards in Napa 

Shafer Vineyards in Napa 

Winery Interviews
A Must Visit and Stags Leap District Star.
Read More
The Grove Restaurant at Copia in Napa

The Grove Restaurant at Copia in Napa

FEATURED - HOME Things To Do
Garden-to-table menu.
Read More
1 2 3 61

Related Posts:

Go to Top