Old world European glamour found in Sonoma, CA
If you’re looking for a little piece of Europe in Sonoma, Buena Vista Winery has you covered. Founded in 1857 by a Hungarian winemaker known as The Count, Buena Vista was California’s first premium winery and proudly showcases history all over the property. The experience begins right when you get out of the car. History Hill greets you as you walk to the tasting room. There’s a hedge maze, an Instagram-worthy picture frame photo op, and Italian music as you approach the large stone buildings. It’s a little like Disneyland for wine fans and is a Sonoma Historic Landmark.
In the main tasting room you’ll find a large bar and the last remaining part of the first wine cave built in northern California. Upstairs there’s plenty of luxurious velvet seating, dark wood, and colorful peacock décor. Even at 11 am on a Saturday, Buena Vista was packed. We had a private tour with The Count himself (whom the new owners brought back to life!), which included a stroll through the grounds, tasting wines thieved straight from the barrel, a hidden lounge dedicated to champagne (my favorite!), a secret passageway, and more. The tour is almost entirely indoors so it would even be fun on a rainy day.
You could just go for a tasting but then you would miss the best part of Buena Vista Winery: the bubble lounge! I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so shocked walking into a room. Accessible only by appointment or on a tour, the bubble lounge oozes old Hollywood glamour behind an unassuming velvet curtain to your left when you first enter in the barrel room. Crystal chandeliers, high-end furniture, jazz, and warm lighting makes you instantly want to pop some bubbly, which is precisely the point. Buena Vista is very proud to be one of the only American wineries who has a true Champagne label. Diane poured us a beautiful glass of Buena Vista’s brut rose champagne, made up of 70% pinot and Chardonnay. It had an incredible mouth feel that said, “Sit down and savor me!” Don’t mind if I do. If the bubble lounge was a bar in Dallas, that’s where you would find me every Saturday night.
Buena Vista’s tour is quite unique, focusing on the history of the property, label, and founder. The Count’s epic story came to a tragic end (spoiler alert: he was eaten by a crocodile!) but his legend continues through Buena Vista. As for the wine, I didn’t try a single wine that I didn’t love. The labels are ornate and over the top, just like Buena Vista. The wines range from $38 to $175 with discounts for wine club members. This is definitely not a classic wine country experience but something else entirely, making it a fun stop on your Sonoma tour particularly if you’re a fan of history.
Buena Vista Winery is located at 1800 Old Winery Rd, Sonoma, CA just five minutes from Sonoma Plaza. Buena Vista Winery is part of the family-owned Boisset Collection along with Raymond Vineyards & JCB Lounge in Saint Helena, JCB Tasting Salon in Yountville, DE Loach Vineyards in Santa Rosa, JCB Tasting Lounge at Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, and Wattle Creek at Ghirardelli Square. Get information about tours and tastings here. Or if you’re lucky, the Count just might make a special visit to your city! He travels throughout the year sharing tales of the winery and Buena Vista’s fine wines. Browse Buena Vista’s wines here.
Special thank you to The Count for our private tour! Learn more about Buena Vista: