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.20150111-IMG_6835_B-W8x10

William Ballentine said, “It is an honor to be recognized by both the National and State Historic Registers. It has been our goal to preserve this true Napa Valley jewel.”

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.

winery1_2The 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.

William continued, “This has been a fantastic project for our family, saving a slice of history while building a future for our children.”


The winery is located at 2849 St. Helena Highway N, Route 29, just north of the historic Greystone Cellars that serves as the west coast campus of The Culinary Institute of America in the heart of California’s famed Napa Valley wine growing region. William Cole specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon in small lot production. Learn more at Tours and Tasting by appointment at (707) 963-6100.