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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cline Wines: an intriguing story

By itself a wine dinner is a wonderful way to discover and learn about wines and taste foods ideal for pairing with different vintages. But the experience is flavored by the crowd, its curiosity and its questions.
I'd like to tell you that the video with this blog is moody because of the lovely evening I spent this week at Sapore, Loretta Paganini's fine restaurant in Chester Township. But in truth it was a splash of Cline Pinot Gris that clung to the lens of my FlipCam and somewhat blurred its images.
Diners that night were mostly Paganini followers, curious well traveled folks who greatly appreciate fine food and fine wines. The questions they posed to Cline Cellars' Keith Morris made for a fascinating experience.
I was familiar with the winery's Ancient Vine Zinfandel, one of my favorites with grilled meats in the summer. The vines still used for that wine date to the early 1900s when they were planted in Sonoma by the Jacuzzi family.
Valeriano Jacuzzi came to this country after his suggestion to the Wright Brothers resulted in success for their flying machines. The Wrights had propeller problems and Jacuzzi, a furniture maker in Italy, wrote to suggest that if the Wrights twisted the propeller wood in the same way Jacuzzi twisted his wooden chair legs, it would strengthen the wood.
The proposal worked and soon the Wright Brothers were pioneers of flight. Their supporters sent for Valeriano Jacuzzi so he could continue to advise the brothers. Jacuzzi arrived in the U.S. along with several of his own brothers and their families. They settled in San Francisco and began to make furniture in this country. Missing the farms of their native Italy, they began to buy land in what is today southern Sonoma County where they planted grapes and made wine as a hobby. Meanwhile, they invented the Jacuzzi as a way to help a family member who had medical problems.
Fast forward to 1982 when Valeriano's grandson Fred Cline consolidated the family's vineyards and began to produce Cline Wines. The vineyard is organic and solar-powered and maintains a herd of 1,700 sheep and goats to eat the beans it grows between the vines to nourish the soil. Last summer the Wall Street Journal rated its fragrant Viognier as the best value Viognier in America. We also tasted the Cline Cashmere, an extraordinary blend; the pinot gris, Zinfandel and late harvest Mourvedre. Some of these wines will also be poured on May 29 when Holden Arboretum hosts its annual wine and food event among the rhododendrens.
Get details in Wednesday Food.

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