This pursuit actually began in Illinois, of all places, when in 1977 Roger & Cheryl
Janakus purchased a small home on 7 acres about 25 miles southwest of Chicago in
the town of Lemont. Next to the house was a single row of grapes, table grapes no
doubt because a serious wine grape wouldn't be caught dead in such a harsh climate.
Almost immediately, Roger began caring for the 8 vines and deep down he realized that
it was only practice for the real thing - "Wine Grapes". Trips to Napa and Sonoma
fueled his envy for the real thing. Growing up he had spent summers on his Uncle's
farm in southwestern Michigan and remembered vineyards were plentiful there. That's it
he recalled, I can remain in the Chicago area and grow wine grapes in Michigan. Soon
a 145 acre farm was purchased just 1½ hours away. Close enough to go to anytime
and most of the time. French wine grape clones were acquired and planted in a two
acre vineyard. This little piece of heaven began to lose its appeal when fighting the
elements; rain (either too much or too little) and frost, insects, animals and weeds.
Then after a suggestion by Cheryl to move to California, (if we wanted to be serious
about wine making) we sold the farm.
One look at Paso Robles and we knew it was what we were looking for. In 2000 we
settled on our end of the road property, the "Journey's End Ranch" on the West Side of
Paso Robles. One year spent preparing the soil, bringing power to the property,
fencing, roads, drilling two wells, trellising & planting and "voila" the rest is history. Little
did we know then that the ranch turned vineyard would give us what every winemaker
hopes for - perfection. In the years since we have added buildings, equipment and
acquired a ranch on the East Side of Paso Robles which has become home to our
winery and tasting room.
All this for producing less than 800 cases of wine? Yes!
Is STANGER truly the absolute finest wine in the world? Maybe - just maybe!