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by Fred McMillin
for November 14, 1997
Buena Vista's First Winemaker
From the 1906 Wisconsin Historical Society Proceedings dealing with Agoston Harazthy's founding of Haraszthyville in Wisconsin (1842):
"Count Haraszthy was a large, arresting figure...both a dreamer and a doer. His prowess as a hunter was legendary. He seemed born to command. As his town rose from the mud of the prairie, he moved about always wearing a stovepipe hat, carrying a cane, and giving orders in several languages to foreign-born workmen."
What did Hungarian-born Haraszthy think of California's wine potential when he surveyed the Golden State in the 1850's? He wrote: "The California climate is eminently adapted for the culture of grape-vines...there will be localities discovered which will furnish as noble wines as [Europe] has ever produced."
As if to demonstrate this, he founded the Buena Vista winery in today's Sonoma County, including the new Zinfandel in his 600 acres of vines. He entered his wine in the State Fair for the first time in 1858. He took first prize, upsetting the habitual titlist, General Mariano Vallejo. It was not a fluke, since the Count won again the next year. However, there were no hard feelings. In fact, soon after, Haraszthy sons Attila and Arpad married General Vallejo's twin daughters, Natalie and Jovita, in a double ceremony that was the highlight of the Sonoma social season.
Buena Vista's Current Winemaker
Just the Facts
Postscript: Buena Vista was the Count's second "beautiful view" winery. His first was in Wisconsin, which he named Szeptaj, or in Hungarian, "beautiful view."
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf
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