by Fred McMillin
for February 9, 1999


Contra Costa Hoopla


Mourvedre, Contra Costa Contra Costa is Spanish for the "other coast" across the water from San Francisco. One of the original 27 counties of California, Contra Costa is red wine country. It has the highest percentage of red wine grapes in the state. Due to the high quality of its Mourvedre, Carignane, etc., around the town of Oakley, the region is suddenly called the "Rhone Valley of California."

...Prof. John Baxevanis, Wine Regions of America

Our Contra Costa vineyard is best known for its 100-year-old plot of Mourvedre near Oakley, which represents 85% of the state's supply of this fascinating varietal.

...Fred and Matt Cline of Cline Cellars

The Rest of the Story

It wasn't always peaches and cream at Cline Cellars. A dozen years ago there was such little interest in Mourvedre that the winery didn't generate sufficient funds to bottle the 1987 vintage. Yet, two years later the Rhone Rangers started to stir, and sales soon shot through the roof. If you want to taste what caused all the excitement, here is the latest bottle my panel enjoyed.

The Wine

'94 Mourvedre, Contra Costa County
Cline Cellars
Contact: Nancy Cline, (707) 935-4310
Tasting Notes: Robust, earthy...serve with robust dishes, such as pesto pasta, beef enchiladas, etc.
Production—Only 852 cases. (Other wineries take part of the fruit.) More recent vintage available.
Cellaring—The Clines said it should age nicely for 7 to 10 years. We gave this bottle over two years and it's still growing.
Price: $18.50 when it went into my cellar.


Contra Costa Tidits:
Contra Costa is not as large as when it became one of the original 27 California counties in 1850. Three years later it lost its southern tip to a new county, Alameda.

Thirteen years earlier the first physician to practice medicine in the area arrived at Martinez. The residents became so dissatisfied with Dr. John Marsh's services and his charges that three of them murdered him. (Source: The Robert's Historic California)

Note: For an earlier tasting of the '94 Cline Mourvedre, see the Aug. 25, 1997 WineDay, " Mourvedre's Doomsday."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

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