Wooly Weeders

Wooly Weeders Image

Last month Judd explained a little about Organic, Biodynamic and Green wine making. This month we introduce to you the 'Wooly Weeders'

Last September Sarah, when in California, made the trip 20 minutes north of San Francisco to visit Cline Vineyards in Sonoma. Before then we had dabbled in a little of the Cline wines but it was only when Sarah returned all enthused and bubbly (in more ways than one) did we really stop and take note at what is going on over there.

Owned by Fred and Nancy Cline this is quite an operation. They began a humble winery in Oakley, California in the early 1970s. Ignoring the hyped-up wine trends of the day, Fred and Nancy chose to restore acres of 100-year-old vines and produce Rhone-style varietals like Mourvedre, Carignan, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. They also planted acres of what would become legendary Cline Cellars Zinfandel. Later Fred and Nancy moved the winery to a 350 acre ranch in the famed Carnera Valley in Sonoma where they planted Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Sarah enjoyed seeing the vineyard and definitely enjoyed tasting the wines, however, what impressed Sarah the most was their level of sustainability and pride in their product! Below is a video from head winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos explaining how their "wooly weeders" are key to sustainable wine grape farming and the quality in every bottle of Cline Family Cellars wine.

In addition to ‘Wooly Weeders' Cline also do…

  • Green String Method developed by Fred and Bobby Cannard, is a system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. These methods minimize pollution from the air, soil and water whilst optimizing the health and productivity of soil, plants, animals and people.
  • Wooly Weeders, they use over 1500 sheep and 500 goats to remove harmful weeds from the vineyards. Brought out February to March to clean the vine rows. Sheep alone are used in the summer months (July – Sept) to help leaf the vines so sunlight can ripen the fruit and clean up summer weeds.
  • Cover Crop is grown to feed the soil. They use a wide mix of different plants some grow quickly while others take more time to produce organic material that is then folded back into the soil or is fed to the sheep. These systems are designed to stimulate the soil life, the life in which the vines are rooted in.
  • Compost and compost tea annually Cline compost and renew all of the digestible organic waste and materials from their winery: 3000 tons of grape pomace, the prunings from trees and vines and much of their paper goods. They turn this "waste stream" into biological stimulant and food for their soils.
  • Minerals Cline utilize new crushed volcanic cinder with its wide spectrum of varied mineralogy on their vines, providing their vineyard soils with all the possible nutrients known to nature.
  • Pest Control pests come in all forms- but none are really truly pests, they are all indicators of the health of an ecosystem. The night owl and the day hawk are the predator of the gopher and mice and these predators maintain ecological control, just as the spiders swarm up on the grasses to the canopy of the vines feeding upon mites and leafhoppers. The vine, as all other organisms, has a complete immunological system, if it's nutrition is in balance it will not be sick and it will not get bugs. They rely on nature to control pests with no use of harmful pesticides.
  • Powered by the Sun Cline went solar in 2005 to provide 100% of their annual electricity needs. The winery's roof is roughly 50,000 square feet and supports approximately 2,000 solar panels, which improved air quality by reducing 690,000 lbs. of noxious greenhouse gases per year.

What is there not to love about Cline… Sarah fell in love with the place and judging by the photos and stories she was very much looked after. As for the rest of us here, we have the wine and the assurance of their methods and practices, but just wait until you try the wine!!

Below are three Cline wines to have a look out for…

                              Cline Ancient Vine Mourvedre Cline Cellars Viognier, North Coast Cline Cellars Lodi Zinfandel

Ancient Vine Mourvedre, North Coast Viognier, Lodi Zinfandel


Last Updated: 15/03/2017
Author: Sarah Hattersley
Sarah Hattersley

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