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Uncorked: California winemaker turns side project into label

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 8:16 a.m. CDT

Bryan Kane saw an empty section in his wine cellar as an opportunity.

Then he looked around the California wine industry. In a market saturated with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir there was room for the Rhone varietals of which he’d grown so fond.   Winemaker spotlight

The time to put up or shut up had arrived.

As an assistant winemaker, Kane crafted just enough wine on the side to be enjoyed for personal consumption. Yet, friends visiting for dinner parties urged him that the side project deserved a larger audience.

“I kept making more and more wine for my home,” Kane said. “My friends kept saying I need to do a label. So, finally I said they need to put their money where their mouth is.” With a friendly challenge, Vie was born.

Available predominately via mailing list, the Vie operation has and will remain small. Yearly production is between 600 and 1,200 cases.

Because Vie fruit is sourced from some of the state’s top vineyards and due to his deft touch as a winemaker, Kane has consistently crafted riveting Rhone varietals and Zinfandels. Just opening a bottle of Vie unleashes a beautiful aroma.

The great fruit Kane has allocated shines with brilliant, intense flavors and terrific balance. The Vie portfolio is a mixture of single vineyard and blends.

“I don’t think in terms of, ‘Is a single vineyard wine or a blend wine the best?,’” Kane said. “I think about what makes distinctive wines.”

What to buy Visit www.viewines.com to sign up for the Vie mailing list. There’s no cost to sign up; just create an email with a user name and password.

The Vie Beatty Ranch Zinfandel ($39) is consistently a remarkable representation of old vine fruit from Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.

Vie L’Imaginaire Grenache ($39) has the boldness that typifies why the varietals have recently become one of my favorites. Vie L’Etranger ($39) captivates with complexity as a rare Zinfandel, Syrah Petite Syrah blend.

Wine 101

There’s no formula to consider it, but Kane might be the busiest man in the wine industry. While a Vie tasting room opened at Treasure Island in time for harvest No. 9 this fall, Kane has parlayed the success at his first label into the Winery SF and another label focused on high-density planting.

Sol Rouge started in 2009 in the Mayacamas Mountains in Lake County. Look for a future column detailing Kane’s foray into drastic farming for mountain fruit.  

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for Shaw Media. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at taste@kcchronicle.com.

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