William “Van” Ballentine ~ Born March 15, 1927, Died December 17, 2019

It is very sad news, when such a dear person and friend passes on… Van Ballentine has passed onto the greener fields of his Irish ancestors. Reading the words from the family, processing them… my words don’t come easily to tell this story. But I must. There are communities of friends; both in and out of the wine business. So many fans adore the passion Van put into his farming and winemaking. His fellow members of PS I Love You deserve to know, since I’m its voice.

This one really touches my heart

When I read the words: “Van Ballentine, passed away peacefully at his home on December 17th. There will be a service at the Grace Episcopal Church in St. Helena, on Tuesday, January 7th, with a memorial at a later date,” I stared into the open.

Van was such a great member of his St. Helena area community. And a great member of the PS I Love You group… One of our first, always the quiet gentleman that came to be his signature at our wine events. William Van Morrison is in my heart and mind, as I wish him a fond, earthly farewell…

From William “Van” Ballentine’s Family

William “Van” Ballentine passed away at his home in St. Helena, at the age of 92, surrounded by his family on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. He was born on March 15, 1927 in St. Helena to John Ballentine and Ellen (Gerhardt) Ballentine. Van attended Foot Hill School in Angwin and then later St. Helena High School. On April 26, 1953 he married Betty Pocai from Calistoga and raised their two sons, Frank and Bill.

Van and Betty spent their life in the wine business. Van’s father, John Ballentine, immigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1910, and moved to Napa County in 1922. He bought 160 acres of vines along with a winery near Angwin that he later called Deer Park after his homestead in Ireland. Van grew up growing grapes and making wine with his father as early as seven years of age. He continued the family wine making tradition his entire life.

Van served in the Navy for four years. He was a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, and a Board Member of the Napa Valley Cooperative. He worked as Christian Brothers vineyard manager in the 50’s and 60’s.

Van enjoyed working in the vineyard. He spent the majority of his life in the vineyard planting and tending vines and working the soil with his own hands. His favorite place was on the tractor, and most days he could be found on the property in the field working his land. He took great personal pride in his vineyards and his work.

In 1993 Van and Betty built the Ballentine Vineyards winery in St. Helena and revived the family label. Van loved traveling around the country with Betty participating in wine tastings and sharing their wine. Van took much pride in sharing his wines and seeing their enjoyment by others.

When Van was not working in the vineyard, he enjoyed outdoor activities, especially hunting and fishing. He spent a lot of time hunting with his family members, sons, and friends. Van also enjoyed traveling to Alaska for salmon fishing, which became an annual highlight for him.

Van is survived by his beloved wife of 66 years, Betty, his two sons, Frank (Linda) and Bill (Jane), and his four grandchildren, Cole, Audrey, Claire and Ryan. His funeral service will be held on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 1:30 PM at the Grace Episcopal Church, 1314 Spring St., St. Helena. A private burial will follow at the Catholic Cemetery. Family and friends are invited to the funeral service at the church. There will be a memorial held at a later date.

Thank you to Wine Industry Insight for publishing this story.

Thank you to Wine Business for publishing this story.