In August, I had the pleasure of attending the grand re-opening of the historic Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, Nev. That beautiful old lady has changed hands many times over the last few decades, and now it is in the keep of Fred and Nancy Cline, who happen to own the eponymous Cline Cellars in Sonoma, Calif.
Historic sites, haunted hotels and wine — my dream come true!
The Clines welcomed their first guests with a bottle of their 2009 zinfandel, appropriately labeled “Lady in Red” in honor of the Mizpah’s resident spirit. (I didn’t see the ghost while I was there, but I heard some good ghost stories from friends who stayed an extra night after the opening when the rest of the hotel was nearly empty.)
Nancy Cline has family roots in Nevada, and her desire to revive the Mizpah and bring her back to her former glory is immediately evident when meeting her. The hotel is as much a labor of love as it is a business investment.
And the Clines know a thing or two about business, which bodes well for the old Mizpah. Aside from the vineyards that bear their name, Fred Cline also owns Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma. The array of cool-climate wines that they have not only attempted but perfected is testament to their dedication to success.
Tonight I decided to finally test my bottle of Lady in Red, and the Clines did not let me down. Cline Cellars’ expertise with zins is evident from the first waft of vanilla and spice on the nose to the hint of coffee and cherry aftertaste. It’s deceptively light on the tongue but leaves nothing to be desired in taste. The earthy flavors are neither weak nor heavy, but perfectly balanced with equally weighted currant and cherry.
This wine isn’t available with the commemorative label, but the 2009 Sonoma Zinfandel is available on the website for $26 ($20 for club members!). Judging by the tasting notes of that wine, I think it’s the same.
I challenge the truly adventurous to visit the winery in Sonoma and pick up a bottle or four, then head east toward Tonopah. Book a room at the Mizpah, wait until dark, then take your wine out into the desert to take advantage of the inky dark sky (thanks to almost NO light pollution). You’ll see stars like you’ve never seen before, and if you drink enough wine, you might just catch a glimpse of the Lady in Red upon your return to the hotel.