California’s oldest premium winery offers a chance to experience this historic property in Sonoma while mingling with the “father of California viticulture,” Count Agoston Haraszthy. Actually, the role of the colorful count is played by local history actor, George Webber.
The Hungarian-born Haraszthy founded Buena Vista winery in 1857, and today it’s a California historic landmark just outside the town of Sonoma.
Tours with the count are available by appointment, Friday through Sunday, and include a full tasting of Buena Vista’s wines and a tour around the gorgeous gardens and stone winery buildings. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and costs $20 per person.
In 2011 the winery was purchased 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.”
In 2011 Boisset, a passionate lover of history, purchased Buena Vista and immediately plunged into an extensive renovation of the property’s original 1857 stone winery, a California Historic Landmark (also on the National Register of Historic Places).
He also undertook a complex, expensive renovation/earthquake-proofing of the 1864 stone champagne cellar, which had been off-limits for years due to dangerous structural damage.
Renovations completed, the winery has returned to serving as Buena Vista’s tasting room and visitor’s center, as it has for many years.
The champagne cellar is being transformed into a private club room for the Buena Vista Viticultural Society (intended as the winery’s high-end members’ club, it will begin operating soon).
One of the fun and interesting changes made to the winery grounds—especially for people who have a passion for “green topics” — is the new Heritage Garden, which highlights four time periods in Sonoma’s horticultural history.
“It goes along with the history of Buena Vista,” said Joe Papendick, who designed and planted the garden. Papendick is head gardener at Buena Vista and also at Raymond Vineyards, another Boisset-owned property.
Buena Vista Winery
18000 Old Winery Road
Sonoma, CA 95476