You learn a lot about winemakers talking and tasting with them. On day two of my visit with Manfred Krankl, we moved inside the walls of Sine Qua Non, which is tucked away behind a welder's shop in a small industrial area in Ojai. A light drizzle of rain fell outside, perfect weather for barrel tasting.
The winery is pretty bare bones, with boxy concrete walls, but it has a good vibe and karma. From the outside, SQN looks like the former storage unit it was, with roll-up doors. Inside it aptly reflects Krankl's personality, from the rich color schemes to the art on the walls and even the mix of barrels he uses for aging his wines.
He and his wife, Elaine, have a strong attachment to this building and I suspect they may keep it even as they are building a new facility for their new winery, Next of Kyn, which is located on their home property. It will be a fully modern design inside and out. But it's going to be hard to replace the original winery. I hope they keep it.
Krankl discussed several vital elements in winemaking with me. He talked about how he goes about evaluating his infant wines, his use of different sizes and kinds of oak and, most important, how he keeps close to his wines and likes to examine them blind in order to avoid prejudices or preconceptions.
Finally, wine can and often does surprise. A winemaker might well think one thing is going to happen with a wine, only to be surprised. These surprises, as Krankl explains, can come at just about any stage in a wine's development, in barrel, in bottle and most certainly with time. I've come to believe that in the end, once a wine is bottled and aged for a period, it reveals itself. But along the way it can go on many detours. Krankl, perhaps as much as anyone, appreciates a wine's individuality.
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Scott Oneil — Denver, CO — May 21, 2010 6:58am ET
David A Zajac — Akron, OH — May 21, 2010 10:23am ET
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