It was established in 1857 and was one of the first wineries in California to plant the European vinifera varieties. Translation: they took common grape vines from Europe and planted them in California. I visited Buena Vista's website and even made a phone call as part of my research before deciding on this location. And I must unhappily report that my book failed me for the first time! I am assuming the location is listed as one of the must sees before you die because of its origin. Buena Vista's website lists wine tastings for $10, which is a bargain. But it didn't say anything about tours, so I made a phone call. The gentleman on the phone informed me they have self-guided tours. This worked for me since I have toured wineries before and was more interested in walking around the grounds than hearing how wine is produced. Upon arriving to the winery, we were all eager to get started. The drive up to Sonoma was beautiful and from what we had seen so far, the property Buena Vista was located on was gorgeous. We made the 1/4 mile trek up to the front entrance. Around the main entrance they had picnic tables and several signs with information to read about the history of the winery. We tried to walk around the property, but everywhere we turned was blocked off with signs that read "employees only." So, I went inside to speak to someone. I was then informed that the signs located right outside was what they considered the "self-guided" tour and you couldn't actually walk around the grounds. But you could pay $10, sit inside, and drink some wine at their bar. I was disappointed...I could do that at home. The guy could sense the disappointment in my voice and was kind enough to suggest a different winery up the road, so that's where we went.
Up the road to Benziger family winery.
This place was a pleasant surprise. It was beautiful, gave a very detailed 30-45 min. tour of the grounds, allowed 4 wine samples, and only cost $15. They are also a Certified Sustainable Biodynamic winery. What's that you might ask? In short, they use all environmentally sound growing methods to produce their wines. Biodynamics is the highest level of organic farming. They avoid using synthetic chemicals on their vines and use all natural methods to control insects and to maintain the health of their soil. The staff was incredibly informative and the wine was so good I brought some home with me.
One the way back to our hotel, we spotted this little diamond. I couldn't help but wonder if I could have scored some free wine since I share it's namesake. Dang! I hate missed opportunities!
Quote of the Day: "I'm sure people get crocked up here!"--Dad
Translation: "I'm sure people get s*** faced up here!"