Napa Valley’s Historic William Cole Vineyards added to National Register - Ballentine family’s restoration and preservation efforts recognized
William and Jane Ballentine, owners of William Cole Vineyards announce that the U.S. Department of the Interior has recognized the historical and architectural significance of this mid-19th century stone winery and gardens by placing it on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, the state of California also recognized its importance and placed the property on the California Register of Historical Resources.
The estate was part of an original 240-acre parcel purchased by John and Hannah Weinberger from Charles and Carolina Krug in 1868. The stone cellar and 3-story building completed in 1873 is the first stone winery in St. Helena. John was murdered by a disgruntled employee in 1882 leaving Hannah to become the first woman winery owner and winemaker. She ran the winery for 38 years until Prohibition closed the operation in 1920. After her death the property was parceled away leaving just the winery and homestead.
The historic winery property remained shuttered until 1938 when the Harrison family of San Francisco purchased the estate. They commissioned famed architect and relative Bourn Hayne to convert the top two levels of the dilapidated gravity-flow winery into a summer residence. In 1956 the Gonser family purchased the property and maintained a summer home until 1999 when the Ballentines acquired it.
The Ballentines spent the next five years painstakingly restoring the home and winery, as well as the renowned Thomas Church-designed gardens. Winemaking had been suspended since Prohibition when they began making wine and opened in 2004 under the name William Cole for William and his son, Cole. They created a special wine called Cuvée Claire for their daughter Claire.
MORE INFO ON WILLIAM:
The fourth generation in his family to make wine in Napa Valley, William Ballentine, Jr. has winemaking in his blood. Growing up among the vines, tending grapes and making wine is the dominant theme of Williams life, a legacy handed down to him by his father, grandfather and great grandfather. William grew up in St. Helena on the family vineyard, which serendipitously is across the street from William Cole Vineyards. He studied business and finance along with enology and viticulture at Fresno State University and graduated in 1987.
After working for Gallo Wine Company in the late 1980s, and then later with his father at Ballentine Vineyards, William grew eager to hone his cabernet harvesting and blending techniques. In 1998 he became winemaker for St. Clement Vineyards in St. Helena where he had the opportunity to work with many of the great winemakers. In 2001, William left St. Clement to concentrate on opening his own winery and on winemaking consulting for small, quality-driven growers, many of whom he has helped develop and build wineries throughout Napa Valley.
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