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The vintners
The vintners
Photographed at Sine Qua Non's Cumulus Vineyard in Oak View, Calif.
The most coveted California cult wine these days isn't made in Napa or Sonoma, and it's not a Cabernet. From Ventura County, Manfred Krankl and his wife, Elaine, produce just 3,500 cases a year of Sine Qua Non wine -- the only American label to have received eight perfect scores from critic Robert Parker. Its hallmark is its estate Syrah, which sells for $200 a bottle -- if you can get one. Individuals can buy it only if they're on the 1,475-member mailing list (there's a six-year wait to join). Each vintage has a different name and label designed by Krankl, who for his first act started Los Angeles' Campanile restaurant and La Brea Bakery. "I think people get a sense they are buying from real people," says Krankl, "and not just a company or a brand."

NEXT: The daredevils
Last updated September 09 2010: 12:10 PM ET
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