Buena Vista Winery calls itself California’s oldest premium winery, and it’s hard to argue the point given it was founded about the same time California became a state. Agoston Haraszthy de Mokeska was a Hungarian immigrant from a wealthy, land-owing family, and in 1840 he landed in California with the dream of creating his own agricultural empire, including a winery. A man of great energy and vision, he was elected to California state legislature and explored the state – at one point he was the sheriff of San Diego – before buying the 800-acre Sonoma ranch known as Buena Vista. He built a stone winery, planted vineyards and organized the first society for the study and improvement of California viticulture. For the next 100 years the estate had periods of success but also periods when it fell into disrepair and did not make wines. By the mid-20th century the estate had been purchased by a large German corporation, which made some improvements and some excellent Cabernet Sauvignons. In 2011 Buena Vista was purchased by Boisset Family Estates, which owns a collection of historic estates in Burgundy and California. Buena Vista still owns nearly 900 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Syrah Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.