Buena Vista Winery uncorked
Before there was Napa or Sonoma, there was Buena Vista Ranch and Winery, the oldest commercial winery in California.
The winery is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and it’s a California historical landmark. There are a lot of firsts for this winery which is, for sure, the most colorful winery in California.
In 1840 “The Count” Agoston Haraszthy emigrated from Europe to the American West looking for opportunities. He became one of California’s first sheriffs, and in 1850, he was elected sheriff of San Diego County. He built the first jail and served two years before moving north to San Francisco. He followed the ‘49ers in search of gold in the Sierra foothills but his goal was to make “purple gold.” He purchased 800 acres and built the Buena Vista Ranch and Winery in 1857.
He constantly experimented with blends, dry farming, hillside planting, tightly-spaced vines and low yields to increase flavor. He knew that great wine came from great grapes, but he also knew he needed great terroir. From the soil to the climate, and the vineyard’s sun exposure to the vines itself, The Count knew Sonoma was his place for growing grapes.
His vines in Sonoma were protected from fog and rain by the Sonoma Mountains to the west, and they were cooled by the breezes from the San Pablo Bay to the south at night. Buena Vista Winery became the first gravity-flow winery in California. With the help of Chinese laborers, he also excavated Sonoma’s first caves for aging and storing wine. He is also credited with being the first to experiment with redwood barrels for aging and fermenting.
Today the Buena Vista Winery’s colorful past is being reborn under the vision of Jean-Charles Boisset. He wanted to create a wine that would represent not only The Count of Buena Vista’s role as the first sheriff in San Diego County, but one that would be worthy of every American sheriff today.
This bold 2012 Sheriff of Buena Vista wine is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. Winemakers combine these different wines to make a new, more complete or complex flavor to enjoy. This wine has polished tannins, great acidity and a super-long finish that makes it the perfect partner to a variety of dishes. Try this wine with light cheeses, red meats and hearty meals. A bottle of this wine retails for $39.99.
For every bottle of Buena Vista Legendary Badge sold across the country, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the National Sheriff’s Association Education Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to serving the office of sheriff and its affiliates through education, training and law enforcement information resources.
While weather certainly is important in the development of a quality wine grape, there have been very few years in which overall quality either shot up to unheard-of heights or sunk to undrinkable depths. To put it simply, never purchase a bottle of wine exclusively because of its vintage.
/ Rick Rodger is a manager at Heidelberg Distributing Company.