At the turn of the 20th century, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese immigrants, first drawn to California with the promise of the Gold Rush, had settled west of the gold fields, near the current city of Oakley, a few miles from the San Francisco Bay. As the reality set in that agriculture rather than gold mining was the key to their future, they travelled further west to the Sonoma Valley to collect the budwood that they would eventually plant in the sandy soils of their new home of Contra Costa County.
Little did they know that the phylloxera bug that would eventually wipe out most of the world’s vineyards, requiring any new vines to be grafted on bug resistant wild American grape root stock, couldn’t survive in the arid sands of Contra Costa. This has left these ancient vines of Carignane, Mataro, Zin and Alicante Bouschet as not only some of the oldest in the world but also some of the only ones with their own roots!
Winemaker Matt Cline has always been drawn to these American heirloom vines starting in the mid-80s when he and his brother Fred founded Cline Cellars on the ability of these ancient vines of Oakley to produce massive concentration yet with silken texture and snappy vibrancy. This allegiance carried through his time with Cline Cellars and now with Three Wine Company. His latest venture honors the pioneers of this valley whose budwood fostered vineyards that still produce incredible wine, 136 years later.
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