John Belletto has been into farming since he graduated from high school. His success saw his vegetable farm grow to become the largest vegetable farm north of the Golden Gate with more than 70 different vegetables on over 700 acres. He also had 35 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris growing on his farm and sold to local wineries. But a combination of Mother Nature and economics with competition from across the border made him start to change from vegetables to vineyards in 1999. Now he has over 600 acres of vines and utilizes 10% of his grapes in his own wines and sells the remainder to local wineries becoming one of the largest grape growers in the valley.
Balletto Vineyards continues to show their love for the land as they nurture their wine grapes throughout the valley. Their largest vineyard is the 193 acre Occidental Road Vineyard surrounding the winery and tasting room. Here they produce large amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and some Pinot Gris. All of the Balletto vineyards are located in the cooler southern reaches of the Russian River Valley, ideal for their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Theyhave six vineyards in the Santa Rosa Plains within a short distance of the winery. The Sebastopol Hills area southwest of the town of Sebastopol has six separate vineyards but all of them have the common cool Pacific breezes through the Petaluma Gap and ripen later than those in the flatter valley. Their coolest vineyard, Hazel’s Vineyard, is located in the Petaluma Gap region.
The large winery facility has 16 large stainless steel tanks and space for over 1800 barrels. This building originally was the Balletto’s produce packaging and shipping center but was converted over to a great winery as their plans changed.
During the recent Passport Days, Balletto Vineyards offered visitors a chance to taste several of their wines including two barrel samples. The barrel samples were for their 2014 Russian RiverValley Pinot Noir and the 2014 18 Barrel Pinot Noir. We also had the opportunity to taste the 2013 versions of these two wines to compare how the wines change to the point of being bottled and released. Note that Balletto Vineyards produces eight different Pinot Noirs.
The 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir is a bright friendly wine that is great for the summer. It provides the crisp acidity and freshness you expect from a fine Rosé, but still maintains those Pinot Noir aromas and flavors of fresh strawberries, cherry, slight spice and even a touch of citrus. The price is $18.
The 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a beautiful easy drinking wine that is well balanced yet delivers the bright red fruits and earthiness that is prevalent in Russian River Valley. The price is $29.
For more information about Balletto Vineyards and their wines: Balletto Vineyards