A Count can be an imposing character as he greets guests walking into the tasting room but…that is the point. The atmosphere of Buena Vista Winery is as much a part of the whole experience….. as is the wine itself.
Founded in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy, Buena Vista was California’s first premium winery. Agoston, the self-proclaimed “Count” of the establishment, had a passion for innovation and excellence.
The same holds true for the new proprietor, Jean-Charles Boisset, who sensed the power of the place and is well known as a producer and importer of fine wines founded in Burgundy, France. His passion has been a driving force to the renovations done on site.
Buena Vista Winery and Cellars have undergone extensive restoration since it’s purchase in May of 2011 including earthquake retrofits and a bright new fashion sense.
The champagne cellars, which had been unavailable to the public for over 20 years, have also been restored and reopened for tours, wine storage and winemaker dinners.
These caves were the first caves ever dug for aging wine in California.
Jean-Charles is a historical champ in my book, to say the least, for his work on restoring the neglected property. Buena Vista was not only the first stone winery but also the first gravity flow winery as well as containing the first caves dug for wine in California. Not too shabby.
It was an absolute pleasure to be invited to tour, taste and lunch with the winemaker and proprietor himself.
I visited the Boisset team to enjoy the newly restored Buena Vista Winery, right off of the Sonoma downtown square, with a group of press and media folks.
After enjoying a catered lunch on the patio outside, all while enjoying white wines from the tasting room, we were whisked off to the Historic Wine Tool Museum for a show.
The Wine Tool Museum features a collection of rare and authentic European viticulture tools from the 19th and 20th century but that’s not all.
True to the Boisset sense of style, the tools are not simply “displayed” for guests… but visitors are guided through an interactive video, ‘art in motion’ wall display and a lesson in the history of wine-making, all the while learning about the Count and Founder of Buena Vista himself, Agoston Haraszthy.
After the 20 minute educational presentation, the group of us enjoyed a tour of the grounds, champagne cellar, tasting room and the exclusive ‘wine club members only’ areas with a wonderful last stop to taste through the wines with the winemaker, Brian Maloney and Jean Charles.
Again, Not too shabby.
When sitting at the opulent Boisset table, set upon the second story of the Buena Vista building and surrounded by centuries old stone, one cannot help but be impressed by the thought that goes into each guest experience. The wines bottles, the glasses and the guests all lined up and prepared for the goodies coming our way.
Brian Maloney, winemaker, is a California native with a true love for the area that shows with each statement he makes. Previous to joining the Buena Vista team, he was instrumental in developing a fierce Pinot Noir program at DeLoach Vineyards, another wine producer in the Boisset family collection.
Jean-Charles asked Brian to spearhead and help guide the Buena Vista renaissance and re-birth of their wines. In 2012, they did just that, with Brian leading the team crafting the first wine to see Buena Vista’s Champagne Cellars in more than 30 years!!
The focus at Buena Vista is on small production wines from prestigious sub-appellations across Sonoma County. Sounds like a great plan to me and one that is perfectly in line with their historic vibe.
One of the things that impressed me was the thought and detail that went into the bottling and labeling. With no expense spared, it was wonderful to see new bottles pulled with the metal labels worn like jewelry for the bottle.
Historically, wine labels, which first came into use in the 1730’s, were made from silver or silver plate and hand crafted.
While we visited with the winemaker and Jean-Charles, we tasted The Founders Series which all displayed hand crafted works of art as labels in historic fashion. We were sent home with a bottle of ‘The Sheriff’ whose label is a metal sheriffs badge.
Again, let me say, there is thought and attention to detail with every aspect of a Boisset Collection experience.
They are fiercely committed to continue the imaginative vision of both the Founder himself, The Count, and the current owner, Jean-Charles Boisset, here at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma County, California.
Not only did they send us home with a wonderful bottle of wine, but also with the hard bound coffee table book ‘Sonoma Wine And The Story Of Buena Vista’ which I recommend checking out in the gift shop during your own visit.
Today, Buena Vista Winery specializes in cool climate wines from Carneros region, historical Zinfandel and premium Sonoma varietals. Consulting winemaker is David Ramey who is another historic wine legend and a favorite of mine all around town. Using the Sonoma landscape as the canvas, the team has sourced from the most esteemed vineyards throughout the county to produce the highest quality wines. My glass is raised.
Brilliant history. Spectacular Wines. Wonderful People. Visit Soon.
Buena Vista Winery: Website 18000 Old Winery Rd, Sonoma, CA 95476
Producing a range of red, white and rosé wines. Includes product descriptions, along with information about winemaking and history of the property.
Just outside the town of Sonoma, the original winery is now a California Historic Landmark, and home to a Winery, Tasting Room, and Visitor’s Center. Buena Vista. Our future is our past… our vivacious, colorful, and pioneering past!
Within two years of the society’s founding, Buena Vista was producing 2 million gallons of wine a year. The success of the budding wine industry in California led to wine prices dropping dramatically as expenses rose. In 1866 Haraszthy was forced to resign from his position of superintendent of the winery. During the 1870s the winery would produce about 100,000 gallons of wine a year from approximately 500 acres of vineyards. Sparkling wine was a popular seller.
The winery produces 100,000 cases of wine including cabernet sauvignon, syrah, pinot noir, merlot, sauvignon blanc, zinfandel and chardonnay wines, as well as a host of unique historical varietals labeled under the “Vinicultural Society” label. The winemaker is Brian Maloney, with Consulting Winemaker David Ramey.