William Cole Vineyards lies hidden as one of Napa
Valley’s most historic properties, tucked away just north of Deer Park Road and Highway 29. Its roots trace back
to 1869 when John C. Weinberger and his wife Hannah acquired the 240-acre estate from Charles Krug and built the first stone winery in St. Helena. When William (“Bill”) and Jane Ballentine purchased a five-acre parcel of the original estate in 1999, the old gravity flow winery’s upper level had been converted to a residence. Committed to preserving the property’s iconic history, Bill and Jane began an extensive three-year renovation of the stone winery to produce handcrafted, quality wines.
The Estate has three-acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, which Bill and his son Cole grow, produce and bottle. Bill leverages his four- decade career working at every capacity in the wine business to know the value of keeping the operation small to allow for complete control over each stage of the process. Each vintage of 500-700 cases is crafted in small lots ranging between 20-30 per year, which are harvested and vinified individually to capture the nuances of the terroir. Bill says “Our lots are like a family of kids. They all have their unique characteristics, but you can tell they are all one family”.
Bill takes great pride in the family structure he has built around the William Cole label, named after him and his son. His wife Jane and daughter Claire, whose names grace their Cuvee labels, are also deeply engaged in the business. Their sense of family carries on with their customers, most of whom were introduced by word of mouth and have become “friends for life.” Bill is impassioned by
his commitment to quality and is always looking for ways to evolve and offer his loyal customers something more.
Bill’s ancestors developed a rich legacy in Napa Valley beginning in 1922 when Bill’s grandfather purchased 160 acres and a winery in the hills of Howell Mountain. For over four generations the family pioneered the land and developed what is now known as Deer Park, named after their family farm in Ireland. In 2015, Bill seized the opportunity to reach back to his family roots and take William Cole to the next level. He acquired forty-one acres of land high on the slopes of Howell Mountain, near where his family built their foundation. The property has seven acres of vines planted on Red Lake Vineyard, which are dedicated to William Cole’s new label, Predecessor. The label pays homage to the family’s heritage and means, “The One Who Came Before.” Like generations past, small lots (less than 300 cases) of 100% single varietal Estate wines that exemplify the big, extracted flavors of Howell Mountain fruit are produced. The wines exhibit exceptional quality and are well balanced and voluptuously elegant, while exhibiting the expressiveness of the rocky soils and warm climate. Allocated exclusively to club members, future plans include building a winery and tasting location so customers may experience the magic of the property first hand. Predecessor is the optimum next step for William Cole Vineyards. It takes the Bill’s multi-generational family legacy from the past century and brings it into what is destined
to be a very bright future.