Sine Qua Non was created after the 1994 harvest of a Bien Nacido Syrah which was named The Queen of Spades. Manfred feels strongly that each year, each vintage, is a completely unique wine and thus he gives each wine a unique name. He also creates the artwork for each new label himself. Previously, Manfred had made wines with Bryan Babcock and John Alban and still sources much of his fruit from the Alban vineyard. The basic wines have always been a white blend of Chardonnay, Roussanne and Viognier and a red wine based on Syrah plus some Grenache. There are at times small quantities of Rose and a Grenache-based red. They have also embarked on a fantastic project with the renowned winemaker Alois Kracher of Austria. The wines are called Mr. K and represent sweet wines made in the world's greatest styles: Eiswein, Vin de Paille and TBA. The next wines to come out will be dry red and white wines from Austria under the Schwarz label.
Sine Qua Non has its own winemaking facility in Ventura, not far from the Santa Barbara vineyards where the fruit is sourced from the region's best vineyards. In the last few years Elaine and Manfred have begun creating their own vineyards dedicated to Rhone varietals. Their winemaking philosophy is to work in very small batches, gravity flow, natural yeasts (unless a fermentation problem is anticipated), long lees aging for the whites and repeated racking for the reds to open them up. This is a simplified explanation of a very dedicated and artistic approach to winemaking. The wines are at once very rich and elegant, superbly balanced and thoroughly harmonious with food, never overwhelming.