Libero Pocai driving the horses and cart. He worked the vineyards in 1906 with horses.

The Pocais in their vineyard.

One of Ballentine's first vintages.

Betty in High School

Ballentine Vineyards in Napa Valley

1906 – The First Ballentine Estate Vineyard: Pocai

In 1906, long before Napa Valley made its mark on the world wine stage, Betty Ballentine’s grandfather Libero Pocai, with foresight or luck is unknown, purchased 60 prime acres of Napa Valley vineyard with a handful of gold coins.

Libero Pocai

Libero Pocai, was an immigrant from Lucca, Italy who knew he was destined to have a vineyard, grow grapes and make wine.  He named it L. Pocai & Sons Winery and Vineyards, and he began to grow grapes, mainly Zinfandel, and applied for the 115th winery bond in 1912. At its peak it produced 50,000 gallons. Their first award winning wine, a Zinfandel, was recorded in 1947 when the first wine awards were started at the California State Fair Wine Competition.

Today, we call the historic vineyard Pocai after Libero. This vineyard continues to produce award winning wines from the same blocks including our current release Reserve Zinfandel.

John Ballentine

John Ballentine, Van Ballentine’s father, was an immigrant from Tyrone County, Ireland who landed in San Francisco in 1910. In 1922, he traveled to Napa and purchased 160 acres with vineyards and a winery on the west hillside of Howell Mountain that was the original Sutter Home Winery. He called it Ballentine’s Deer Park, after his farm in Ireland.

In 1933, right after Prohibition ended, John was one of the first to apply for a winery bond #3533 and produced his first wine in 1933. In fact, one of his wines was among the first Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley.

During the subsequent decades, John and Van Ballentine purchased two other vineyards. Betty’s Vineyard was purchased in 1943 with his son Van, and is part of the homestead and winery land along Highway 29. Fig Tree Vineyard was purchased in 1949 and sits at the base of Howell Mountain on Crystal Springs Road.

Ballentine Vineyards Today-Hidden Gem of Napa Valley

Today, Ballentine Vineyards in Napa Valley encompasses 80 acres of prime vine growing land. We remain committed to the promise of our land, honoring its continuous ability to produce great wines. Our estate grown wines include not only the superb Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, but other wine varietals that the land is especially well-suited to grow.

We manage our historic vineyards with the support of the best science, but our own heritage has helped strengthen the already rich product. We have intimate knowledge of how to care for and farm these familiar, familial lands so they perform at their best.

Our estate vineyards provide a true and authentic sense of place while producing wines that both delight the palate and surprise us with each harvest’s difference.

Enjoy authentic experiences, walk through the wine-making process and relax in the barrel rooms while tasting the fruits of our Napa Valley wine harvest.

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