The museum features a collection of rare and authentic 19th and 20th century European viticulture tools that are theatrically arranged and displayed against the winery’s historic cellar walls, which date back to 1864.
Visitors will be guided through a 20-minute show that presents the story of winemaking through the use of these tools from vineyard to bottle, while also learning about the life of the vivacious and eccentric founder, the self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista,” Agoston Haraszthy.
“The exhibit is a performance — a dramatic dance of the tools, with lighting, special effects and movement,” said Buena Vista proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset, in a media release. “It is designed for guests to discover and experience the world of wine and the rich history of California winemaking. It celebrates and communicates the historical significance of wine as part of our civilization and part of our cultural fabric, while paying homage to Buena Vista Winery’s central role in California’s long and storied place in the wine world.”
Boisset purchased Buena Vista Winery in 2011 and immediately began a significant restoration project to preserve and protect the winery’s cellars and caves. In 2012, a seismic retrofit was completed that allowed the cellars to re-open to the public after closing due to the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. That same year, the building was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2013, Buena Vista Winery was awarded the California Preservation Design Award for using innovative center-core drilling technology, which made it possible to restore and preserve the original character of the building from 1864. It is thanks to this restoration that the building is standing in perfect condition today following the Napa earthquake last August. While other historic buildings toppled, the Champagne Cellars at Buena Vista Winery suffered no structural damage.
The creation and opening of the Historic Wine Tool Museum is another milestone, and for Boisset, a crowning achievement in the revitalization of the property.
The tools on display include picks, secateurs, grafting knives, presses, a dramatic presentation of pomace cutters, as well as the tools used in barrel making, such as batissoires, adzes, doloires, and more.
From the pioneering zeal of Count Haraszthy through the devastation of phylloxera, the collection guides guests through the evolution of the wine world via its tools.
“We are ambassadors and stewards of these historical objects, and we have the opportunity to share them with America in the ideal location: the first premium winery in California,” Boissert adds. “We are thrilled and honored to share this moment of history that enhances the culture of wine and history in America.
“Our mission at Buena Vista is to bring a renewed sense of energy and life back into the winery so that it can return to its glorious past. As we like to say, Buena Vista’s past is its future. The Historic Wine Tool Museum is the true embodiment of this spirit.”
The museum is an extension of the Boisset family’s collection in Burgundy, France, which is housed at the Imaginarium at Louis Bouillot in Nuits-St-Georges.
Guests may reserve in advance at www.buenavistawinery.com, by calling 800-926-1266, or at the Buena Vista Winery Tasting Room. Museum tours are available daily, by appointment, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Walk-up visitors will be accommodated as availability allows; groups of eight or more require advance reservation.
In addition to the $25 tour and tasting option, families will also be offered a choice of a museum-only experience for $10 per person, and children with paying adults are free.
The winery offers additional guest options that include “Be the Count” wine blending experiences, private tastings, barrel tastings, winery tours, tastings of a wide selection of award-winning, small-production wines, and beautiful picnic areas.