08 Feb Balletto Vineyard, Sonoma CA
On our Flash Tour of Wine Country we had a bit of time in Sonoma and Michael found a winery with an educational hike. It was a beautiful day, so a bit of a hike in a vineyard, a bit of learning and then some wine, sounded just right and we headed off to Balletto.
Balletto Vineyards is located in Sonoma, just a little bit off the 12 on Occidental Road. The address says Santa Rosa, but they are closer to Sebastopol. They were farmers first, with John Balletto starting the business running the family’s 5 acre farm growing vegetables in 1977. John’s father had passed away and to care for his family, he gave up college athletic scholarships to start the business. They expanded the property they owned and grew more and more produce. In 1995 they had 700 acres and grew 70 different varieties of produce and were one of the largest vegetable farms in Northern California. Multiple El Ninos in 1998 wiped out much of their crops and as they looked at potential future water crisis’ they determined to turn their properties to wine grapes. They began with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and sold fruit to Sonoma Wine Producers. In 2001 they created Balletto Vineyards, keeping 10% of their fruit from their Russian River Valley Vineyards for themselves. Their produce packaging and shipping center, became the winery.
In the tasting room you can ask about the self guided tour and they will give you a lamenated map to guide you. These are done in conjunction with Sonoma.com and on their site you can find details on multiple Free Vineyard Walking Tours.
We started out with the hike, it was a beautiful day and getting to see the soil and the vines and a little of the story of this place seemed to be a good way to set the mood for the wines we would taste later.