Buena Vista Winery is considered California’s oldest premium winery and was founded in 1857 by the self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista”, Agoston Haraszthy. Situated in the Los Carneros AVA (also known as Carneros AVA), the Buena Vista Winery vineyards are poised atop the hills overlooking San Pablo Bay.
The proximity to the cool fog and breezes from the bay makes the climate cooler and more moderate than the wine regions further north in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, allowing for the cultivation of cooler climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Many of the grapes grown in Los Carneros are also used for sparkling wine production.
Rarely does one think of ghost hunting when wine tasting, however, Sonoma’s Buena Vista Winery has a ghostly past and an eerie presence. In 1862, legend has it that 20 Chinese migrant workers were busy bottling, corking and wiring Champagne magnums in the deep wine caves when a minor earthquake triggered a cave-in. Racism attitudes at the time, left the men to be buried alive amidst cases of fine champagne.
Tragically, a few years later, Count Haraszthy also met his untimely death in the crocodile-infested jungles of South America. Ghost hunters claim that the Count still walks the hallowed grounds at Buena Vista Winery.
Loud, unexplainable noises are sometimes heard in the wine cellars in the wee hours of the night.
Naysayers choose to dismiss the colorful ghost stories and folklore in favor of the stellar wine tasting experience. Guests are free to explore the lush grounds at leisure, wine glass in hand, or picnic lunch in tow.
Whether it be Sparkling Wine, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, Buena Vista Winery can please the most discriminating palate. The hallmark 2010 Buena Vista Sparkling Brut displays elegant apple and pear with crisp citrus flavors of Meyer lemon and clementine, intricate layers of vanilla bean, mineral and stone. Also noteworthy is the 2012 Carneros Chardonnay, which opens with white floral flower aromas and baked apple layered with notes of toasted almonds and clementines.
Buena Vista Winery also features varietals from Sonoma, such as the 2012 Sonoma County Zinfandel, a complex blend of strawberry and red raspberry with enticing darker fruit flavors of blackberry and bramble berry.
Buena Vista Winery is a must-see for wine historians and ghost-hunters alike. Ghost hunting is not for the timid or faint of heart. Should you encounter any “uninvited guests” on your visit, do tell them the Count is watching!