For the discerning wine geek on your holiday list, Sonoma Wine And The Story of Buena Vista would be a most welcome read. Modern California wine historian Charles L. Sullivan offers a fascinating detailed perspective on the state’s 200+ year viticulture history complete with vintage photos and colorful anecdotes.
Sullivan engages readers with in-depth tales of the ginormous entrepreneurial wine pioneers and overwhelming financial hardships encountered in Alta California’s La Frontera del Norte in the 1800’s.
Many Italian immigrant farmers found their way first to the “promised land” and successfully planted the vineyards with their native grape varietals, many of which remain today. Others with “deep pockets” and little farming skills became large winery owners or shipping magnates.
By far, the most intriguing chapters of Sonoma Wine trace the tumultuous early years at Buena Vista, California’s oldest premium winery, through the acts of brillant, yet quixotic founder Agoston Haraszthy in 1857. Add the aftermath of the Gold Rush, the devastating plague of phylloxera and the dry years of Prohibition to the mix and it becomes a novel worthy of historical fact and reflection.