California's Oldest Winery
Step back in time at California's oldest premium winery at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma.
The Buena Vista was founded in 1857 by "Count" Agoston Haraszthy. Now known as the father of California viticulture, the Hungarian-born Haraszthy was a committed farmer, an experimental innovator and vintner, a respected author, a shrewd businessman, and a brilliant and incredibly zealous promoter.
This historic winery is now owned by Jean-Charles Boisset, a Frenchman who first visited Buena Vista at the age of 11 with his family, owners of Boisset Family Estates.
"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 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, which highlights 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.
In spring 2015 Buena Vista unveiled its new Wine Tool Museum, where a 20-minute sound and light show presents the history of winemaking and the life of Haraszthy through a rare collection of handcrafted tools that are more than 100 years old. Guided museum tours are offered daily.
Restaurant options include cookbook author Sondra Bernstein's the girl & the fig; and at the north end of the Valley, Tips Roadside serves farm-to-fork Wine Country comfort food inspired by southern cuisine.
Lodging ideas include the elegant oasis at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma; the blend of vintage and contemporary with a modern Asian flair at Gaige House + Ryokan in Glen Ellen; and the Mediterranean-style luxury at Kenwood Inn & Spa.
Find more info about wineries & wine, things to do and hotels in Sonoma County.