A committed farmer, an experimental innovator and vintner, a respected author, a shrewd businessman, and a brilliant and incredibly zealous promoter, the Hungarian-born Haraszthy founded his winery in Sonoma in 1857. Nowadays, the role of the colorful count is played by local history actor, George Webber.
Tours with the Count ($20 per person) are available by reservation only, Friday to Monday.
They include tasting Buena Vista’s current release wines, as well as exploring the recently renovated property and champagne cellars.
This historic winery is now owned by Jean-Charles Boisset, a Frenchman who first visited Buena Vista with his family — owners of Burgundy’s Boisset Family Estates — at the age of 11.
“I fell in love with Buena Vista,” he said. “I always remembered this beautiful place.”
As a passionate lover of history, Boisset bought the Buena Vista in 2011. He then plunged into an extensive renovation of the property’s original 1857 stone winery, which is a California Historic Landmark and also on the National Register of Historic Places.
The renovations also included earthquake-proofing of the 1864 stone champagne cellar. This area had been off-limits for years due to dangerous structural damage.
Extensive work on the winery grounds included a new Heritage Garden, highlighting four time periods in Sonoma's horticultural history: Native California; the Spanish Missions and Mexican Ranchos; the Gold Rush and early statehood; and the era when Luther Burbank developed new plant varieties in Sonoma County.
“It goes along with the history of Buena Vista,” said Joe Papendick, head gardener at Buena Vista and also at Raymond Vineyards, another Boisset-owned property.
With these renovations completed, the stone winery building once again serves as Buena Vista’s tasting room and visitor’s center, in its unique and historic setting. Buena Vista Winery's new Wine Tool Museum is slated to open in May 2015.
Buena Vista Winery, 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma, 800-926-1266.