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North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 2:12 pm

Ballentine Vineyards taps Adler Fels for distribution

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    Van Ballentine and Betty Pocai Ballentine

    Betty Pocai Ballentine and Van Ballentine

    NAPA VALLEY — Ballentine Vineyards, a nearly 9,000-case-a-year Bordeaux-style estate wine producer started two decades ago, signed a marketing and distribution agreement with Adler Fels Winery of Santa Rosa.

    Ballentine joins the boutique portfolio that includes Michel-Schlumberger in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, which Adler Fels’ owner acquired in November, and White Cottage Ranch, a small brand from Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain winegrowing region.

    “We’re very pleased to add Ballentine Vineyards to our growing portfolio of artisan wines,” said Adler Fels General Manager Dan O’Leary. “Their enviable combination of critically acclaimed wines, coveted vineyard holdings and Napa Valley pedigree deepens Adler Fels’ roots in one of the world’s great wine regions.” 

    Adler Fels Winery (www.adlerfels.com), a Santa Rosa-based negociant, private- and control-label brand builder, is owned by KSSM, LLC, an investment group led by Steve Adams, founder and chairman of Westlake Village-based Adams Wine Group. The group acquired Adler Fels in 2004 and now has a portfolio that includes three boutique brands. Other holdings are direct-to-consumer fulfillment house Pack N’ Ship Direct and American Cellars Wine Club.

    Ballentine Vineyards (www.ballentinevineyards.com) grows 100 acres of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, petit verdot, petite sirah, merlot, zinfandel, malvasia bianca and chenin blanc vines in the Pocai Ranch, Crystal Springs and Home vineyards.

    Co-owner Van Ballentine said the agreement will allow the brand to expand nationwide.

    “It allows us to continue our focus on reserve and specialty bottlings from our estate vineyards, while gaining the sales resources, expertise and distribution reach of Adler Fels,” he said. “We believe that this will be good for both companies.”

    Adler Fels produces five core brands: Adler Fels Wines ($14.99–$25 a bottle), Kitchen Sink ($9.99), Leaping Lizard ($11.99), Coyote Creek ($7.99) and Coastline ($9.99). The winery also makes more than 100 private- and control-label brands produced for national retail, restaurant and hospitality customers. Portfolio wines is distributed nationally to grocery chains, wine shops and restaurants.

    Ballentine wines are sold through the winery website, appointment-only tasting room along Highway 29 between Calistoga and St. Helena, and at fine restaurants and wine shops in select markets nationally.

    Together, Van Ballentine and Betty Pocai Ballentine represent two of Napa Valley’s oldest wine families, whose roots in the valley date back to the early 1900s. After years of selling their grapes to top wineries such as Caymus, Robert Mondavi, Ravenswood and Rosenblum, the Ballentines launched their own label in 1992.

    Ballentine Vineyards reactivated bonding for Deer Park Winery, founded by Van Ballentine’s father in 1933. It has as its flagship vineyard the Pocai Ranch, made famous by Ms. Pocai Ballentine’s grandfather, renowned grapegrower and vintner Libero Pocai.

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