In 1857 Count Agoston Hazaszthy founded Buena Vista Winery, the first premium winery in California. The Count left Hungary, his home land, in 1840 and eventually settled in Sonoma via Wisconsin, San Diego, and San Francisco – tirelessly pursuing his quest for “purple gold”.
After purchasing land and establishing the winery, The Count continued to experiment with various viticulture and oenology techniques, at the same time expanding production. He became ambassador for Sonoma and California, promoting the potential for world class wine; inspiring many others to follow their passion for wine growing in Sonoma. In 1861 The Count traveled to Europe to study techniques that he can use to improve wine making in California. After travel through France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland, he returned with vines of over 300 different varietals; many planted at Buena Vista and introduced to other California vintners.
Buena Vista Winery had ups and downs over the following years; eventually closing in 1878 and reborn in 1949 with a vintage released by Frank Bartholomew and André Tchelistcheff. In continuum, Boisset Family Estates acquired Buena Vista in 2011.
After a year of renovations, press and media was invited to tour the property last Friday, led by Jean-Charles Boisset. Even with the ongoing construction, this was a day of celebration – opening of the Champagne cellars, start of the 2012 grape harvest, signing of Sonoma-Tokaj Sister City Agreement; all coinciding with Count Agoston Hazaszthy’s 200th Birthday.
If you’re not familiar with Jean- Charles Boisset, I’d recommend putting him on your map. In many ways he reminds me of The Count. A pioneer in his own right, JCB speaks of viticulture with zest and fervor, consistently tying in the spiritual component of the earth and terroir; sense of place. He comes to California from Burgundy, with centuries of history tied to the brands in his portfolio, making quite the impact with his vision and practices at DeLoach Vineyards, Raymond Vineyards, and now Buena Vista Winery. In creating his JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset brand, tradition and heritage of Burgundy is united with terroir and style of California. His JCB #3 is a prime example of this – the first Pinot Noir blended with fruit from both Russian River Valley and Côte de Nuits; more on this wine in a subsequent post. JCB tasked himself with teaching Americans about wine from the old world, but equally important, teaching the world about California wine.
A demonstration vineyard, vegetable garden, and museum will be available to winery guests once renovation is complete in Fall 2013. I’m really looking forward to the entire experience. Below are photos of the Buena Vista event, click for larger image.