Winemaker, William Cole Vineyards
Cole Ballentine is the real thing!
There is a lot to be said for being a 5th generation farmer in Napa Valley - you pretty much know where all the bodies are buried and where the best grapes can be grown.
From an early age Cole followed his dad, William, around vineyards and wineries. He, like his father, loves the smell of the earth and has a strong respect of history and for past generations in Napa Valley.
After playing both basketball and football at St. Helena High School, Cole went off to Montana State to study business management and to immerse himself in a variety of outdoor sports he enjoys. During summers he would come back to Napa Valley to work with Wilbur Ellis, returning to the vineyards learning about plant management and vine health.
When your name is on the label, the Cole in William Cole, it is pretty hard not to gravitate back to the family business, especially when you share the same passion for quality and salt-of-the-earth winemaking. Cole and William are truly the only hands that touch the winemaking process of both William Cole and now Smoking Gun.
Growing up with the rich stories of the Wild West and the intriguing history of John Weinberger, the founder and winemaker of the first stone winery in Napa Valley, that now houses William Cole Vineyards, led Cole to the creation of Smoking Gun.
Country born: United States
Years in the wine industry: 6 years