SONOMA — Jean-Charles Boisset, new owner of California's oldest premium winery, is building the future of 155-year-old Buena Vista Winery on its rich and eclectic heritage.
This month, the native of France's Burgundy region plans to make wines inside in the stately stone buildings and old wine caves for the first time in two decades. In preparation, barrels recently were rolled into place inside a dimly lighted cavern, a new oak fermenter was uncovered and cement was poured onto the floor.
Outside, activity swirled with the laying of cobblestones and touch-up of building walls.
Buena Vista, now a state historical landmark, was founded in 1857 by Hungarian-born Count Agoston Haraszthy, who procured the 800 acres for his winery outside Sonoma with dreams of producing premium wine. He began to call himself the "Count of Buena Vista." During his wide-ranging career, he also served as a sheriff, marshal, California State assemblyman and chief of the San Francisco Mint.
Among his contributions to California winemaking were the first gravity-flow winery, the first excavated wine caves and the use of redwood barrels for aging and fermentation.