There are a few repeat travel moments that give me butterflies just by thinking about them. One of the major ones is stepping out of customs in Shannon Airport after a Boston to Shannon flight, seeing family for the first time, and then stepping outside for our airplane-dried skin to be bathed in a fresh, light misty early morning air. The smell of turf and rain and jet fuel is etched in my memory, and it always makes me think “home”.
Another favorite moment is when we get to this crossroads on the way to Napa and Sonoma and make a left toward Gloria Ferrer and all of wine country. I feel like a world is opening up to me, like I close a door behind us for however long we are away. So much waits beyond that crossroads!
On our last Sonoma County trip, we decided to check out Cline Cellars as our very first winery. You may know how much we love Cline wines, especially our house Viognier, but somehow we always missed visiting the winery. Boy, was I glad we took the time to stop (And we were their first guests at 10:00 a.m.! Blame it on #EastCoastTime)
Cline is beautiful. The whole area of Sonoma County is stunning, but from the road it is impossible to tell how involved and lovely Cline’s property is. If visiting Cline Cellars, give yourself an hour to wander around before you taste.
In addition to being surrounded by beautiful vineyards, Cline has exquisite gardens and ponds, one where you can even feed some very aggressive, large fish. I was like a kid again feeding them and the turtles around them. Cline also has a variety of interesting birds on property.
Cline’s gardens are gorgeous. I loved all of the fruit and flowers and became more inspired for my next season of gardening. Their gardens were both wild and groomed, creating a perfect space of natural beauty, surrounded by the bigger beauty that is Sonoma County.
Of course, Cline’s wines are as beautiful as their gardens, and their staff is wonderful as well. Days before we arrived, Cline lost quite a bit of wine to the Napa earthquake, and they also had some bottles with damaged labels for sale.
It was their Ancient Vine Zinfandel, with a gorgeous, intense burst of fruit and cocoa with a hint of pepper. Ancient vines are one of those things that make Cline so amazing. Kelli recommended I try the 2012 Ancient Vine Mourvedre which is seriously AMAZING. This wine is so rich and concentrated, lots of dark fruit and again those cocoa notes, which offer so much depth, slight sweetness, roasted flavors. Heavenly.
Peppery Syrah also made its way to my favorite list; we do love Cline’s white wines, quite obviously, but the morning we visited was before the fog lifted, and those deep dark reds were perfection.
Cline Cellars is an iconic winery, one of those spots you could easily visit again and again for the scenery and people and to check out the latest vintage. Now that we know what resides up that long vineyard road from the highway, we will find it impossible to ever pass again on a Sonoma trip.