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Sonoma adds more than a touch of showbiz to Californian wine-making


I HAVE JUST arrived at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, California. The plan is to sample some of the estate wines in the wood-paneled Press House Tasting Room and then wander around the historic estate, California’s oldest commercial winery and the birthplace of the state’s contemporary wine industry. I am greeted by a man dressed in a 19th-century frock coat and top hat; he appears to have adopted the mannerisms of a European aristocrat. “Welcome. I am Count Agoston Haraszthy,” he declares.

“No, you’re not,” I say, but he ignores this and plows on. “As an introduction, I should tell you we make food-friendly wine here, elegant wine, not overly extracted, oaky or alcoholic. We often name special wines after members of my family. The Eleanora chardonnay is named after my wife.”

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