Sonoma’s Buena Vista Winery was awarded the 2013 California Preservation Design Award for “Craftsmanship/Preservation Technology” at the 30th annual California Preservation Awards in San Francisco.
The Champagne Cellars at Buena Vista, a California Historic Landmark, were seismically retrofitted using innovative technology called center core drilling, making it possible to restore and preserve the original look and feel of the façade of the cellars, as they had originally been built in 1857. The California Preservation Foundation recognized the renovation and seismic strengthening of the Champagne Cellars as having “maximized retention of character-defining features while minimizing visual impacts.”
The Champagne Cellars last produced wine in 1979 and closed to the public after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Jean-Charles Boisset, proprietor of Buena Vista, has made the restoration of the winery his duty, to remind the world of its extensive role in winemaking history.
“Buena Vista’s future is its past,” Boisset said. “Our mission is to preserve and perpetuate the imaginative vision and unrivaled legacy of the winery’s founder and to protect the first grand estate of the California wine world for the world to discover.”
Restoration and preservation of the Champagne Cellars, which had fallen into disrepair and neglect, followed shortly after Boisset’s purchase of the winery in 2011. To prevent any visible evidence of reinforcement on the stone walls, 4- to 6-inch diameter “cores” were meticulously drilled from the top of the wall to the bottom, allowing for a single rod of reinforced steel to be placed within the core.
This was then filled with grout, creating a reinforced vertical column strengthening the stone walls. Additional work to the cellars included re-pointing all the joints, replacing cracked and deteriorated stones, repairing wall cracks, removing mortar, re-grouting the outer walls with a mortar custom-mixed to ensure it was compatible with the original stone, and replacing the asphalt driveway with hand-chiseled cobblestone. Lead architect Naomi Miroglio of Architectural Resources Group Inc. said, “The California Preservation Foundation is the premier preservation organization in the state of California, and to have them recognize the work that we have done is very exciting.” Miroglio’s other projects have included Beringer Winery, Charles Krug Winery and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone campus.
On Aug. 31, 2012, after having been closed for more than 20 years, the Champagne Cellars reopened to the public on the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Count Agoston Haraszthy, the founder of Buena Vista, and wine is again being produced in the historic cellars’ walls.
Buena Vista Winery, California’s first premium winery, was founded in 1857 by Haraszthy, the self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista.”