Source: William Cole Vineyards

Source: William Cole Vineyards



"As stewards of this estate it is our goal to preserve the history and the integrity of the property and we are incredible proud to be able to share it with others. - William & Jane Ballentine, Proprietors

When William and Jane Ballentine bought a nineteenth century ghost winery in St. Helena in 1999, little did they know it would take them years to open its doors which had been shuttered since Prohibition. They enthusiastically began an extensive renovation of the 1873 stone wine cellar on the bottom level of the historic three-story building while they moved their family into the top two floors. Throughout the project they began to uncover the incredibly rich history of the property and it became their goal to restore the original integrity of the winery and incorporate modern winemaking techniques. The property was deemed so important to the history of the Napa Valley that the county wrote a special historic ordinance to allow it to be reopened as a winery. By 2004, they had completed restoration and opened as a fully operational winery. In honor of tradition, they named it William Cole for ‘William’ and their son Cole and dedicated their Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvée Claire, to their daughter ‘Claire’.

A direct reflection of our soil composition along the lower slopes of Spring Mountain, ‘Cuvée Claire’ is cultivated from our 2.5 acre estate vineyard, which enjoys a historic legacy going back to the 1870s. The estate is comprised of a variety of soil types; silty loam and volcanic soils interlaced with black obsidian; our small vineyard is diverse and complex. These soils have excellent drainage which forces the cabernet vines to reach deep for their water and nutrients, what results is smaller, stressed berries which yield thicker skins and ultimately more concentrated flavors ensuring a rich and cellar worthy wine. “My Goal in the vineyard is to celebrate the distinct qualities that each of the varying soil types has to offer.”

Our winemaking practices are gentle and slow. “The timing of everything in the creation of our wine is based on taste,” William says. “There is no hard and fast schedule and no rush in the winemaking process. ‘Cuvée Claire’ is allowed to work its magic slowly, which we believe results in a complex, elegant wine that represents the best of Napa Valley.”