Eleven of us ventured to Central CA to visit two of our favorite wineries…Saxum and Sine Qua Non. Let me start by saying that this was the trip of a lifetime made possible by the amazing generosity of our hosts Justin Smith and Manfred and Elaine Krankl. I posted on Saxum last weekend and wanted to take a moment to provide my thoughts and recollections of our time at SQN. Manfred and Elaine are by far the most generous, hospitable and genuine people one could ever hope to meet. We traveled from far and wide to visit the rocks stars of wine but in the end…WE were treated as celebrities. In an age where winery customers are treated as though WE are privileged just to have the opportunity to purchase their wares, the Krankl’s displayed a genuine sense of gratitude for our support rarely seen in our little world of wine geekdome. To the Krankl’s, I say thank you for the opportunity for the experience.

On day one, we visited the Cumulus vineyard site and home of the Krankl’s new winery. Let me say that the structure seemed like an invention of the mind of the late Frank Lloyd Wright but with the artistic touch and color of Van Gogh. It’s set beautifully along the hillside of Ventura beneath the breathtaking meticulous rolling vineyards, all perfectly manicured and precisely pruned as to create a natural work of art. The chickens and cows watched on with indifference as we rode up and through the various blocks of grapes up to the hilltop where we looked down onto the Cumulus Vineyard. Oh the romanticism of standing perch overlooking the open hills still green and holding on to spring. Napa now seems like a rolling advertisement whereas Ojai is a place of simplicity and freedom. We all just basked in the moment (and burned in the sun as some had forgotten their sunscreen). We then set back down the hill to the winery to barrel taste the various elements that would soon likely become a few perfect vinous concoctions. If I learned anything on this trip, I learned that end product starts with hard work, precision, dedication and pursuit of excellence in the vineyard and ends with the magic of blending the various elements to create the final piece of art. Like colors on a pallet, each piece is carefully selected to create what would become the complete picture and it is in these two elements that the Krankl’s excel and conceive what is to become their perfect artistic expression. At this point, I’ll leave it to one of my fellow attendees to provide some more precise notes as I was more than content to simply taste and contemplate. It’s amazing how different each of these barrel samples taste and smell and how each holds such a unique and important piece of the overall puzzle. We tasted, I believe, three grenache samples and two syrahs along with a few of the whites…one of which was a remarkable and beautifully acidic Petit Mensang. Later we would taste what would prove to be one of the highlights of the trip…the Krankl’s Petite Sirah. WOW! Now this is something for which you’d want to back up the truck. This is some serious hoodoo! After the barrel tasting, we were treated to an absolutely amazing lunch set up on what I believe was the crush pad overlooking the hillside. We were thrilled to find a host of mags of some of our favorite SQN creations. Again, I’ll leave it to my brethren to provide a list but as I remember, it included On Your Toes, Into The Dark, 17th Nail, Lil E, Rejuvenators, Kolibri, Hussy, Naked Truth, E-Raised, Just For The Love Of It and others. For me, the 17th Nail was the show stopper as was the On Your Toes. The surprise of the night was the Kolibri as last I tasted it (about a year ago), it was simply great but WOW has it become an absolutely brilliant wine! Eventually, as the sun began to set, we headed back to our hotel to prepare for another day of SQN madness.

Sunday had us heading to the Third Twin Vineyard located in Los Alamos, CA. The site is located in close proximity to Bien Nacido and White Hawk. It was amazing to see how sandy the soil was and again we found such meticulously manicured vineyards. Chris Hammell, vineyard manager of Bien Nacido, joined us. You couldn’t ask for a cooler guy to hang with and with such passion for the art of viticulture. If he ever ends up producing his own wine…buy buy BUY as he is uber passionate about his craft. It was cool to see many of the infant vines perched along the hillside. The setting was more green than Ojai as from what I understand, the area sees just a bit more rain. With Manfred, Chris and Mark (the vineyard manager) leading the way, we worked our way to the crest of the hill to the overlook of the vineyards. The view was simply put, STRIKING!

To conclude the day, we dined at the restaurant Flatbread in Los Alamos. It was surprising to find such an amazing gem of a restaurant in such a seemingly small and simple town. The food was top notch as was the service. We shared in a variety of wines brought by both our crew and the Krankl’s and included the 98 Beaucastel Perrin, a RIDICULOUS mag of Heart Chorea along with a slew of other wines. We must have consumed four cases of wine amongst the 16 of us. The quality of wine was only eclipsed by the quality of the company.

To put this trip into words would be impossible as it was beyond comprehension. As most of you have come to realize, I am a die hard fan of SQN but to meet the people and personalities behind the wine is to put the icing on the cake. It only affirms what I’ve come to learn over the years and that is supporting a quality brand is important but supporting quality people is paramount. In life, we are lucky if we meet a few great people (as my good friend Winick would put it) and on these two days…we were fortunate to break bread with two of the finest and most generous and kind hearted people one could ever be lucky enough to know. Many thanks to the Krankls, the SQN staff, Chris, Mark, and the rest of the crew for making a memory that will last a lifetime and then some. Cheers and drink well all.

Thanks for the report, Justin. They’ve come a long way from the ramshackle wnry
behind the junkyard in Ventura. As you point out…great people.
The pics…I recognize the concrete eggs…but I’ve never seen the cylindrical ones before. Are they French as well??

What an amazing experience and great read. Thanks for sharing.

Nice write up, Justin, and great pictures. The winery look stunning. No fatalities?

That Winick is a wise man.

By the way, it’s “palette” [stirthepothal.gif] . Had to beat the Bobs to it.

Justin, I amended your post symbol, as the one you used was for recipes (ask Martin Zwick). I put a more apropos symbol for it instead, knowing you likely didn’t sleep for a few days afterwards.

[cheers.gif] [wow.gif] [welldone.gif]

Ha. Thanks Todd! Any way you can convert my photos on Flickr to pin them up on my posting?

Can I pick up your dry cleaning while I’m out, too?


You’ve got the wrong style of link for those images - if you give the whole URL, I can probably pull the images from there. Check if there is a ‘share’ or ‘embed’ command on the pics, and use that URL along with the IMG button above

Like this?

SQN8 by thenapalist, on Flickr

The filter on those shots, and the slight movement, make them look really amazing. They look like they are from a badass coffe table book on modern winery architecture or something. Very cool, for lack of a better word.

Stunning pictures, agreed. [thumbs-up.gif]

Fabulous report, Justin! I wish I could have been there. In fact, I thought I saw myself in one photo and wondered how much I had drunk, but alas, it was not me.

You need to remove “img” from the end of your picture link to have it work correctly, like this:

I agree about the Petite Syrah…crazy stuff!! What was the vineyard again? I forgot, but it was a cool story on how he bought it…

Is he going to release the P.S. to the mailing list?

I believe it came from Peterson Vineyard (Switchback Ridge) in Calistoga, with help from Bob Foley.

Love this story. The more I get a chance to drink these wines the more I fall in love. Gonna steal one of the amazing photos for my computer wallpaper, if you are gonna sue me get in line.

I cant really put into words how amazing this trip was. I love SQN wines. That being said, I would be happy to do the trip over to just listen to and spend time with Manfred and Elaine, wines or not. I could listen to both of them for days.
Their warmth was only matched by their generosity. Holy cow.
Their staff, friends and family are also amazing.
Justin produced a great summary of the trip. Thanks Justin, and thank you for organizing. The only other part that is missing from the report is the camaraderie of our group. Everything worked out perfectly.
A few thoughts on the wines.
–Heart Chorea is my favorite SQN of all time, closely followed by 17th nail.
–I was not a fan of the Petrus, as much as I loved trying it.
–Janasse XXL is a badass wine.
–The Haut Brion, which I brought, was not in great shape, but it was drinkable.
–2001 Yquem is also a stupid good wine.
–One of the bottles of pegau was not correct, the rest of the wines were all pristine. No corkers! (other than the Dr. Loosen which we bought off the list)
–Screagle was underwhelming
–Id guessed right that most of the guys had not heard of Fairchild and it was very well received.
–Scarecrow 09 was better than 07
–I was dissapointed by the Sanctus
–The '82 Bordeaux and the '00 all showed very well, as much as Bordeauxs dont do it for me. Id like to drink the Roteboeuf again.
–Justin Smith killed it in '10. The Bone Rock is ridiculously good. The grenaches we tried rocked as well.
–The Hussy and the Chave Blanc were my favorite whites of the trip.n the Gewurst was amazing too, couldnt stop smelling it.
–Henriot my favorite bubbly.
–On Your Toes showed magnificently well.
–I like Rayas, go figure
–Grange rocks.
–The Harlan was stunning.
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Krankl and Mr. Smith for the trip of a lifetime.

Oh and here’s the list of what we drank during the trip courtesy of Mr. Winnick
The Flight
1982 Dom Perignon
1996 Dom Perignon
2010 Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc
1996 Taittinger Rose
2005 Domaine Romanee Conti Romanee Saint Vivant
2009 Roumier Chambolle Musigny
2007 Aubert Reuling Pinot (Mag)
2010 SQN That Type of Rosay

Courtyard at the Hotel
2007 Peter Michael Belle Cote
2009 Epoch Block B
2009 Epoch Veracity
2000 Dom Perignon
2006 Petrus
2009 Pott Her Majesty’s Secret Service Cabernet

Dinner with Justin Smith at Villa Creek
2009 Leflaive Batard Montrachet
1996 Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs
2006 Clos des Papes
2007 Clos des Papes
2001 Chapoutier L’Ermite
2005 CSJ Machina
2007 CSJ Sanctus Sanctorum (Mag)
1982 Cos D’Estournel
1982 Leoville Las Cases
1982 Certan du May
2009 Rene Rostaing La Landonne
2000 SQN Incognito (Mag)
2005 Cobos Malbec
2006 Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre Chablis 1er Cru
2005 Boillot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchere
2007 La Peira
1926 Yquem

May 4 – Day 2

Wine/Barrel Tasting at Saxum
2007 Bone Rock
2009 Bone Rock
2007 James Barry
2009 James Barry
2006 Broken Stones
Barrel Samples
2011 Heartstone (From Blending Tank)
2011 Rocket Block Grenache (Component of James Barry)
2011 Old Vine Mouvedre and Lower Block Bone Rock Syrah and Rocket Block Grenache Co-Fermented Blend for Bone Rock (Component of James Barry)
2010 Rocket Block Grenache aged in concrete and neutral barrels (Component of James Barry)
2010 Bone Rock (upper rows) with 13% Roussanne (Final Wine)
2010 Terry Hoage Vineyard (100% Syrah from high density vines)
2010 Heartstone Vineyard (Blend of Syrah and Grenache)
2010 Paderewski Vineyard (Co-fermented blend of Mouvedre and Petite Syrah – Component of Paderewski)
2010 Paderewski Vineyard (Co-fermented blend of Zinfandel and Tempranillo – Component of Paderewski)
2010 Booker Vineyard (100% Syrah)

Flight to Ojai/Hummer to Ojai
2005 Hundred Acre Ark

Courtyard at the Ojai Inn
2003 Screaming Eagle

Dinner at Maravilla
1990 Salon
1994 Colgin
1997 Maya
1989 Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Badstube Reisling Brut
1985 Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Badstube Reisling Spatlese (Flawed Bottle)
1982 Cos D’Estournel
1990 Beausejour Duffau
2007 Colgin IX Estate
2005 Hundred Acre Ark
2006 Alban Reva
2001 Chateau d’Yquem
2002 Shafer Hillside Select
1994 Araujo
2001 Pride Reserve Claret

Day 3 – May 5th

1996 Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs

Barrel Tasting with Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non – Cumulus Vineyards
2011 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard (Purchased fruit)
2011 Petite Mauseug Cumulus Vineyard
2011 Roussanne Cumulus Vineyard (From Concrete Egg)
2011 Grenache Eleven Confessions Vineyard (Blend of Mixed Lots)
2011 Grenache Cumulus Vineyard (Blend of Mixed Lots)
2011 Syrah Cumulus Vineyard (Blend of Mixed Lots)
2011 Syrah Third Twin Vineyard (Blend of Mixed Lots)
2011 Syrah Eleven Confessions Vineyard (Blend of Mixed Lots)

“Lunch” with Manfred and Elaine Krankl on The Dock
2000 Hussy (Mag)
2004 Rejuvenators
2006 Hoodoo Man
2008 Kolibri
2000 Incognito (Mag)
2003 Lil E (Mag)
2004 Into The Dark (Mag)
2005 The Naked Truth (Mag)
2002 Just for the Love of It (Mag)
2005 17th Nail in my Cranium (Mag)
2001 On Your Toes (Mag)
1998 E Raised (Mag)
2011 Petite Syrah Third Twin Vineyard (Barrel Sample)
2005 Atlantis Roussanne Dessert Wine (375)
2007 To the Rescue Grenache Dessert Wine (375)

Pre-Dinner in the Courtyard
1961 Haut Brion

“Dinner” at Maravilla Bar
2000 Tertre Roteboeuf
2007 Kapscandy Grand Vin
2008 Kapscandy Grand Vin
2001 Verite La Muse
2009 Fairchild Sigaro
2006 Marcassin Blue Slide
2007 Scarecrow
2009 Scarecrow
2009 Maybach Materium

Cigars on the Veranda
1983 Graham’s Vintage Port

Day 4 – May 6th

Flatbread Restaurant with Manfred and Elaine
1999 SQN Gewurstraminer (1 ½% residual sugar) (2)
2005 Harlan (Mag)
1998 E-Raised (Mag)
2002 Heart Chorea (Mag)
2005 Marcassin Estate Chardonnay (2)
2005 Chateau Yquem “Y” Ygrec (2)
2007 Peter Michael Pointe Rouge (2)
2008 Chave Hermitage Blanc (Mag)
1998 Pegau Cuvee du Capo (2)
1998 Guigal La Mouline (2)
2007 Janasse XXL (Mag)
2005 Chateau Rayas (2)
2009 Screaming Eagle (2)
2001 Chateau Beaucastel Hommage a Jacques Perrin (3L)
2001 Negly Clos des Truffieres (Mag)
2006 Marcassin Blue Slide Ridge (2)
2001 Negly La Porte du Ciel (Mag)
1998 Henri Bonneau Cuvée Speciale (2)
1982 Grange
2001 Chateau d’Yquem (375) (3)
1995 Shafer Hillside Select (Mag)
2001 Schwartz Zweigelt
1999 Guigal La Mouline

Hummer Ride Back to Ojai Hotel
1999 Zind Humbrecht Clos Jebsal Pinot Gris Selection des Grains Nobles

The PS is from the Third Twin Vineyard. It might be part of the lower area which I think was once a part of the Thompson Vineyard. Can’t quite remember but I believe that to be the case as there was a hodge podge of different vines in that block.

We also had a really nice mag of the In Flagrante on the flight home. It was the best showing of this wine to date as it had a beautiful vibrancy that I haven’t noted in the past.

If I didn’t see it it doesn’t exist :wink: