Founded in 1857 by the colorful Hungarian Count Agoston Haraszthy, Buena Vista Winery was a pioneer of California wine. The first wine caves in California were dug here (and can still be seen today by visitors), and Haraszthy is responsible for bringing all kinds of European wine varietals to the U.S.
Today, Buena Vista is owned by Jean-Charles Boisset, an equally colorful man who has spent millions restoring the historic buildings and caves here to their former state (only now they’re safe from earthquakes). After a quick tour through this fascinating facility in a heavily wooded part of Sonoma — it only makes a small fraction of Buena Vista’s production; the rest is made at sister operation DeLoach, which shares a winemaker with BV — we tasted a number of new releases from the winery.
2013 Buena Vista Blanc de Noir – A welcome sparkling wine made from pinot noir grapes. Fresh apple up front, with lots of almond character. A- / $50
2014 Buena Vista Eleanora’s Selection Chardonnay – Complex, with biscuity notes balancing out pears, apples, and ample butterscotch. Plenty of acid on the back end. A- / $42
2014 Buena Vista Private Reserve Pinot Noir – Sourced from 5 vineyards all over California. Currants and spice hit in earnest, with a light black pepper character. A touch of menthol soothes the ample tannin profile. Cinnamon lingers on the finish. A- / $65
2012 Buena Vista Antal’s Selection Zinfandel – First vintage of this expression, made from 100 year old vines. Dense in color, very rich with fruit and chocolate notes. Jammy to the point of being nearly overwhelming. B / $40
2015 Buena Vista The Sheriff of Buena Vista – A blend of petite sirah, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, and syrah. Chewy with lots of tannin, baking spice, and more of that menthol. Raspberry finds a way through the finish of what is otherwise a bit of a mutt of a wine. B / $40