In the latter part of the 1800s and the early 1900s, Oakley, California was a picturesque farming community. Oakley, in eastern Contra Costa County, is equidistant between Sacramento to the northeast and San Francisco to the west. Situated on the banks of the San Joaquin river at the point where the Sacramento river merges, the two journey west to empty into the San Francisco Bay. At the turn of the 20th century, Oakley was home to a number of Portuguese and Italian immigrants who found many similarities to the Mediterranean climate they had left behind. They planted thousands of acres of orchards and vineyards. Today, a century later, due to the devastation of phylloxera and the encroachment of commercial and residential development, only 600 acres of vineyards remain in this evolving community. Cline owns and controls 300 of those acres including some of the oldest surviving vines in California; a little bit of history. Fred Cline’s maternal grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi who founded the famous pump and spa company with his brothers, called Oakley home. On summer visits to his grandparents, where he escaped the suburban Southern California life that had attracted his father, Fred learned from his grandfather both the love of the agricultural life and the mysteries of the vinification of grapes into wine. These lessons led Fred to U.C. Davis to study agriculture management, a rebellious departure from the U.C. Berkeley tradition of his father and paternal grandfather. After attaining his degree, in 1982 Fred returned to Oakley to found the company that would become Cline Cellars. There he started producing wines and restoring ancient vines. In 1991, the winery relocated from Oakley to the Carneros region of Sonoma County on a historic 350-acre estate with new vineyards and facilities. While much of the cool Carneros region is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot, Fred Cline pioneered the planting of Rhône varietals including Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. In 1997, Cline ventured further west into an even cooler growing area in eastern Petaluma and again planted more Rhône varietals.
Eucalyptus mint, firm structure and exotic spice are key elements in our Big Break Zinfandel. Always one of our most robust wines it oozes with power, revealing crisp dark wild berries, exotic spice and hints of dark chocolate. A distinct dusty berry character, what we affectionately describe as our “Oakley terroir,” effuses predominantly from this wine.