Sol Rouge Winery
Lake County AVA
A small boutique winery in Lake County
The story behind Sol Rouge Winery is not entirely different from other smallish boutique wineries in Northern California. Its owner, 49-year-old Michigan native Bryan Kane, found himself living in Southern California after receiving his MBA from UCLA. The year was 1994, and Kane was already partially interested in wine.
“I had learned a little about wine in order to have something to talk about to my older customers in the automobile industry,” Kane recalled recently. “I was mostly familiar with French and Italian products, but, in Los Angeles, it seemed that everyone was really into wine – California wine that is.”
Kane also found himself taking the short Southwest Air hops up to San Francisco where the wonders of Napa and Sonoma beckoned to him. He enjoyed the area so much he eventually moved to San Francisco and became a home winemaker in his garage. When the tech company he was working for was bought out by a Georgia entity just before a Northern California harvest began, Kane decided not to head south. He called a contact and inquired about the possibility of trading labor for grapes and was quickly accepted. The work also afforded Kane the chance to interact with winemakers and solicit advice from them.
When a former girlfriend treated him to an advanced winemaker course at iconic UC Davis, Bryan Kane realized his business future lay within the confines of the wine industry. He also realized that home winemaking wasn’t something he wanted to continue very long into the future.
He began looking for property in all the major growing areas and was attracted to Lake County, directly north of Napa Valley. “Before Lake County was formed in 1861, it was actually part of Napa and Mendocino Counties. The vineyard area is south of Mt. Konocti and due west of Clear Lake. It is considered perfectly suited to growing grapes. Some big wine names, like Beringer and Beckstoffer, already had major commitments in vineyards in the area and I consider them extremely smart people in the wine business. Plus, the property was affordable in Lake County where it wasn’t everywhere else,” Kane added.
In 2005, Kane found some hillside property in the newly designated Red Hills Lake County Appellation (designated in 2004) and his dream became a reality. “The new AVA really helped make the decision for me,” admitted Kane. “We started planting some vines and sourced some grapes for our initial releases. Those releases, a minuscule 50 cases, reached fruition a year later.” Spring forward to the present and Sol Rouge Winery produces approximately 1,200 cases of estate wines. Bryan Kane and his wife Jill share responsibilities for the winery and vineyards. Jill handles all matters dealing with the fruit and vineyard maintenance while Bryan is involved with the winemaking and marketing of Sol Rouge Winery’s offerings.
By the way, Sol Rouge means ‘red soil’ in French and is a direct tribute to the Red Hills Lake County Appellation. “We have an abundance of volcanic soils to work with,” Kane explained. “The soils actually define our vineyards. We are at a high elevation (between 1,400 and 2,600 feet) and have excellent drainage for the vines. Additionally, we put a lot of money into planting just the type of rows and sections we wanted. The fruit we now enjoy shows just why we did such unique vineyard planting.”
Another interesting aspect of the Sol Rouge Winery is the location of their tasting facility. Sol Rouge Winery is one of seven wineries located on famed Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay and an easy stop for visitors who might not have enough time to make it up to Lake County.
“We were one of the original three to locate there,” Bryan Kane continued. “The other two are gone and have been replaced by six new entities. We have been very happy with Treasure Island and also the number of San Franciscans who take the short ride over the Bay Bridge to see us.”
Kane is also happy with the early successes of his wines that have drawn plaudits and high scores since their introduction almost a decade ago. Bryan Kane is one of a number of former home winemakers that has prospered in the commercial wine industry. His planning and business acumen have allowed Sol Rouge Winery to gain a level of acceptance and productivity that few wineries have achieved in such a short time.
We invite our Platinum Wine Club members to enjoy the incredible wines of Sol Rouge Winery!
Map of the area
Owners - Bryan Kane & Jill Brothers
Dear Gold Medal Wine Club Members,
We are proud to share our wines from Sol Rouge Vineyards, the estate winery of Bryan and Jill Kane. The year 2015 marks the 10 year anniversary of our purchase of an old walnut orchard in the Mayacamas Mountains which we transformed into the unique high-elevation, hillside vineyard you see today.
Our dedication to high-vine density farming, with nearly 6,000 vines per hectare in some blocks, and plantings along some of the steepest slopes in the entire North Coast has allowed us to create distinctive, focused, intense wines that allow Sol Rouge to be recognized alongside many of the top Rhône & Bordeaux varietal wines of the North Coast.
Our last vintage marked a turning point for Sol Rouge in which almost all of our wine was produced by our estate. Not only did our final block (Cinsault) produce a full yield, but our wine program truly reflected our vision. This vision was also embraced by the press with 7 of our 9 wines receiving 91 points or higher from a major wine magazine, Wine Enthusiast, including the highest ratings our wine region has ever received from a top wine reviewer. We feel that these new releases continue to embrace our vision of producing distinctive and interesting wines from our unique, red volcanic soils, diverse hillside microclimates, and high-vine density vineyard at a good value that appeals to a discerning palate.
We are excited to share with you our latest release of Sol Rouge and look forward to your feedback and reviews as we continue to strive to the best wine possible from our estate vineyard.
Bryan Kane & Jill Brothers