Fingers Crossed New Releases 

USA, California Central Coast

Fingers Crossed New Releases 

This week, I headed to Oak View, California, to check out the upcoming Fingers Crossed releases. Nik and Julia Krankl presented the 2021 “Unanswered Prayers” trio of wines from the tank, as well as the bottled 2020 triplet from the series named “Head Held High.”

If We’re Lucky

Making wines since 2017, this is the fifth vintage release for Nik and Julia’s collection of garage wines, a term I use in the best possible, hands-on sense. Nik and Julia continue their “stained-hands approach,” meaning, except for harvest, they still do nearly everything themselves, working out of their converted garage. Therefore, growth is necessarily slow in order to maintain their goal of high quality. What started out as a few hundred cases produced in 2017 has expanded to 1300 cases of 2021 wines. For a detailed background about Fingers Crossed, readers can click here and refer to the article I wrote last year.

"We had to be patient and wait and wait and wait for ripeness."

I had to ask, why the name “Unanswered Prayers” for the 2021s?

“Well, for the 2020 labels, we had the Head Held High theme,” said Nik. “2020 was a hard year, and we were all looking up. I think everyone expected 2021 to be much better, but it was still a tough year after 2020.” 

Even if 2021 was a rough ride for the world, it was an excellent vintage for parts of California Central Coast, especially Santa Barbara County. A cooler vintage for this area, similar to 2019, 2021 was a stark contrast to the heat of 2020. 

“2020 had a lot more of those heat spikes,” said Nik. “But 2021 was a very, very cool year. We had to be patient and wait and wait and wait for ripeness.”

2020 was a year known for the devastating fires in Northern California. I didn’t detect smoke taint in any of these Fingers Crossed 2020 wines. This makes sense since the fruit sources that year were Bien Nacido and Sanford & Benedict vineyards, sites within Santa Barbara County and far enough to the south of the 2020 wildfires to escape unscathed. While the smoke impacted the harvests as far south as Paso Robles, most of Santa Barbara County remained smoke-free, and thus far, I haven’t come across any smoke-tainted 2020 wines from this area. For more information, readers can click here for the Smoke Taint article I wrote last year.

2021 was, however, the height of the California drought, so one of the issues for vineyards across California was water availability. Vineyards struggled as water rations across the state dried up toward the end of the growing season. In some wines from Napa and California Central Coast, ripening appears to have been an issue, although I see no such problems in these new Fingers Crossed releases.

These are bright, vibrant expressions that really speak of a cooler vintage while maintaining their signature generosity and plush textures.

“In 2021, we were able to take on new blocks at Bien Nacido Vineyard that used to go to Sine Qua Non,” commented Nik, referring to the fact that Sine Qua Non has recently become 100% estate grown. “We are especially excited by the Grenache that we can now get from there.” 

As for the winemaking, it’s business as usual. “We don’t approach every vintage with some drastic overhaul,” said Nik. “It’s much more micro-movement. We might make some very small changes to adapt to the vintage, but nothing drastic. I think it’s so fascinating to see how much the vintage speaks in our wines. It’s the most undeniable source that we can’t alter, no matter how much we do. With these wines, you really see the vintage.”

Before leaving, I requested to see the new 2021 series of labels, which, like Sine Qua Non, change every year. I’m no art critic, but I love what Nik and Julia have been doing with their packaging. These 2021 Unanswered Prayers labels are as captivating and thought-provoking as those that have come before them. According to Nik and Julia, they were a real pain to apply because each label is vertically split to reveal a positive and negative side to each image. The woman on the White Wine label blowing a bubblegum bubble is Julia.

“We can’t afford to hire a model yet!” Half-joked Nik.

“Hold on,” I said. “Why are there four labels? I only tasted three wines.”

“Ah, yes, we again made a tiny amount of rosé. And again, this year, it will be divided out in small quantities. We had a lot of upset customers wanting the rosé last year,” Nik said sheepishly, the inability to satisfy demand clearly pulling at his conscience. 

I haven’t tasted the rosé, so I can’t comment on what it’s like, but if readers are interested in buying, they need to be quick to order because demand is high and it’s first-come, first-served.

Although the 2021 Grenache, Syrah, and White Wine were bottled in mid-July, I tasted tank samples that were drawn prior to botting to avoid tasting newly bottled wines with bottle shock. Therefore, while the blends and elevage had been completed, these reviews were scored as barrel samples.

As for the 2022s in the pipeline, Nik sighed and said, “2022 was supposed to be our big growth year. We took on a few more new blocks and vineyards. But the crop load was pathetic—0.28 to 0.7 tons to the acre. Can you believe it? We got just 73 barrels. This year (2023) is looking better, but we did get some shatter. Hey, that’s farming. If we’re lucky, we’ll have 1500 cases of 2022s.”

Maybe “If We’re Lucky” would be a good follow-up series of Fingers Crossed labels.

Fingers Crossed now has a distributor in Hong Kong. Otherwise, sales continue to be offered direct-to-consumer via their mailing list. 

Article & Reviews by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
Photography by Svante Örnberg (top picture by LPB)

See more work from Svante at by clicking here!