Founder and owner John Balletto started the business after the untimely death of his father in 1977. At the age of 17, when the family needed him the most, he put their needs before his own and relinquished several college athletic scholarship offers so he could stay home and help his mother, Hazel, run the small five-acre farm.
The Balletto family was determined to make the business a success, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s, they purchased parcels of land to gradually increase vegetable production. One of those properties is where the Balletto Vineyards winery stands today. By 1994, the Balletto family had grown the business into the largest vegetable farm in Northern California, growing more than 70 different vegetables on 700-plus acres. More than two million cases of mixed vegetables moved through the premises per year during its peak.
After seeing the high-quality Russian River Valley wines crafted from their fruit by other wine producers, John and Terri decided to pursue winemaking under the “Balletto Vineyards” name. They saved one-tenth of the fruit for themselves-selecting the top 10 percent of quality-and in 2001 created the first vintage of Balletto Vineyards estate wines from Russian River Valley.
The Ballettos crushed enough Russian River Valley fruit for 391 cases of Chardonnay and 689 cases of Pinot Noir that first year.
Today, we are still using 10% of the grapes grown for our own label. We are currently in the 20-25,000 case range.