Fingers Crossed’s New 2020 Releases

USA, California, Central Coast

Fingers Crossed’s New 2020 Releases

As the son of Sine Qua Non’s Manfred Krankl, art and winemaking have been a part of Nik Krankl’s upbringing and, you could say, are in his blood. Fingers Crossed’s wines nod to the Sine Qua Non family of wines with their captivating, original artwork labels and thematic naming that come with each vintage. Like Sine Qua Non’s beginnings, Nik and his wife Julia embrace the craft of sourcing and blending fruit from growers around the Santa Barbara County area, with an emphasis on Rhône varieties. 

Heads Held High

For a wine critic, few things are as exciting as watching a fledgling wine project of great promise grow and flourish. I’ve been following Fingers Crossed since Nik and Julia Krankl launched their first 2017 vintage under the “Faethm” label, only to require a name change the following year when they discovered that name had already been registered. Undeterred, the name and imagery were reborn as Fingers Crossed for the 2018 vintage. Each year, Nik and Julia develop more in the amount and caliber of fruit sourced, production size, and winemaking expression.

Impressively focused on small production from the outset, Nik and Julia make just three wines: a white, a Grenache-based blend, and a Syrah-based blend. 

“We’ve grown from just ten barrels production in our first year to almost forty this year,” Nik mentioned when I came in August. “Slow and steady wins the race!”

Fingers Crossed is a California Central Coast garage wine. Literally.

Located in a suburban neighborhood in the town of Oak View, the wines are made in a converted garage, which has been fully insulated and fitted with air-conditioning, tanks, and barrel storage units. During my visit, I took a few moments to marvel at the vast new concrete crush pad for grape reception and sorting that had just been laid in their backyard (and was currently being used by their kids as a tennis court).

“Our neighbors all came out to watch these cement mixers delivering truckload after truckload for this project,” said Julia. “But, apparently, because of the supply chain issues, there’s been a cement shortage in this area. No one else got any cement for their garden projects this summer because we had it all. We’re not very popular right now.”

I tasted last year’s 2019 releases (the “Two Become One” labels) and the three newly bottled 2020s, which carry the label theme, “Head Held High.” With each bottled 2020 California wine I taste, I grow increasingly anxious of discovering another wine with smoke taint. Fortunately, I didn’t detect smoke taint in any of these Fingers Crossed 2020 wines. This makes sense since the fruit sources this year were Bien Nacido and Sanford & Benedict vineyards, sites within Santa Barbara County and far enough to the south of the wildfires that year to have escaped relatively unscathed.

“Bien Nacido, in particular, is cooler climate,” Nik said. “It adds a freshness to the blend in a warm year like 2020. A little dehydration affected the Syrah grapes this year, which reduced yields and intensified the flavors.”

In 2020, Nik and Julia were able to take over Manfred and Elaine Krankl’s blocks at Bien Nacido since Sine Qua Non has recently become 100% estate grown. “These are blocks we’ve been eyeing for years,” said Nik, clearly proud of his new wine babies. He should be.

In a challenging vintage like 2020, Fingers Crossed have produced their best wines yet.

Article & Reviews by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
Photos by Svante Örnberg

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