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Sonoma winery to resume wine-making in old buildings

  • In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 Jean-Charles Boisset stands inside a cave dating to 1864 and looks out at renovations taking place in the champagne cellar at the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, Calif. Many people think the California wine world came of age in 1976 after a famous tasting in Paris put the Golden State’s vintages on the world map. But for Boisset, new owner of the state’s oldest commercial winery, the state’s fine wine making traditions started a century before that. That’s why the Burgundian is building the future of 155-year-old Buena Vista Winery, a landmark known as the birthplace of California wine, on its past. He plans to make wines in September in the stately stone buildings and old wine caves for the first time in two decades. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

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.


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