The national Rhone Rangers will present its seventh Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, June 24, 2023, to recognize the significant contributions made by an individual to the American Rhone wine movement. This year’s honor will be bestowed to Frederic Cline, founder and owner of Cline Family Cellars in Sonoma, CA. Cline is also one of the original founders of the Rhone Rangers organization.
A native of Los Angeles, Frederic Cline spent his summers as a teenager in Contra Costa County at his grandfather Valeriano’s farm. Valeriano, an Italian immigrant, shared with Cline a European approach to winemaking, and taught him how to farm grapes with care and intention. This sparked a lifelong love of agriculture and winemaking, with Cline attending U.C. Davis to study viticulture.
In 1982, Frederic Cline started Cline Family Cellars in Oakley, California, making his first vintages from original plantings of head-trained and dry-farmed Mourvèdre, Zinfandel, and Carignane, with some plantings dating back to the 1880s. In 1989, Cline and his wife Nancy purchased a 350-acre horse ranch property in the Los Carneros region of Sonoma County, which is home to the present-day location of Cline Family Cellars. Cline’s love for Rhone varietals led him to initially plant Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne, which were viewed with skepticism at the time. To help raise awareness for these obscure varietals, Cline co-pioneered, with other industry legends, the original Rhone Rangers. Cline has devoted his career to sustainable farming practices in the vineyard, the preservation of heritage vineyards in Contra Costa, and to his passion for sharing the highest quality Rhone-style wines with the world at accessible price points. Cline Family Cellars will celebrate forty-one years in business this year. “It is a great pleasure that the Rhone Rangers have the privilege of honoring foundational leaders in the wine industry with the Lifetime Achievement honor. Fred and his family have never wavered from their dedication to crafting fine wines from the classic Rhone varieties. They have built a foundation for all Rhone Rangers making wines from these varieties in the United States today,” noted national Rhone Rangers President Craig Camp of Troon Vineyard.
Past Rhone Rangers Lifetime Achievement honors have been awarded to notable Rhone wine luminaries, including Randall Grahm – Bonny Doon Vineyard (2013), Robert Haas – Tablas Creek Vineyard (2014), Robert “Bob” Lindquist – Qupé/Lindquist Family Wines (2015), Bill Easton – Terre Rouge (2016), Sondra Bernstein – the girl and the fig (2017), and Gary Eberle -Eberle Winery (2021).
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Frederic Cline during the Rhone Rangers Summer Gala evening wine dinner, to be held at Cline Family Cellars on June 24, 2023. The evening will include eminent speakers from the Rhone wine community and a stellar selection of Cline Family wines, in the exquisite outdoor setting of Cline Family Cellars. Tickets are $250 per person and include a multi-course dinner, in addition to VIP Access to reserve wines at the afternoon wine tasting. The afternoon Rhone Rangers wine tasting will be held on the Cabana Lawn at the winery, featuring 30 Rhone Ranger wineries from throughout the national organization, representing Sonoma, Napa, Lodi, El Dorado, Lake County, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara County, Oregon, and Texas. Wine tasting only tickets are available for $75 per person. For tickets and additional information on participating wineries, please visit www.rhonerangers.org.
About the Rhone Rangers
Founded in 1998, the Rhone Rangers are a group of 100+ wineries throughout the United States dedicated to making wines from the 22 grape varieties originally made famous in France’s Rhône Valley. These varieties range from the better-known Syrah and Viognier to the up-and-coming Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Roussanne, and obscure grapes like Counoise and Picpoul.
The Rhone Rangers started from a small gathering of American vintners who began meeting informally in the 1980s. As their numbers expanded, the non-profit organized under the name “Rhone Rangers,” with a focus on promoting the enjoyment of Rhône varietal wines produced in the United States. These grapes include the 22 traditional varieties approved by the French government for the Côtes du Rhône, as well as Durif (Petite Sirah). For a wine to qualify as a Rhone Rangers wine, the winery must be a member of the national organization and 75% of the wine’s content must include one or more of the twenty-two traditional Rhone grape varieties. For more information, please visit www.rhonerangers.org.