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by Fred McMillin
This Zin Is In
Sign in window of local bistro: Come in before we both starve!
The Rest of the Story
So I did, and the first step was to check the wine list. Happily, they had Buena Vista wines. One of them is...
Our Bargin of the Day
1997 Buena Vista California Zinfandel
The Disappearing Winery
The spectacular Hungarian, Count Agoston Haraszthy de Mokcsa, on January 1, 1857 purchased for $5,500, 560 acres stretching from the floor of the Sonoma Valley up into the Mayacamas Mountains. Hence, the name "beautiful view," Buena Vista.
The Count was long on planning and short on execution. with the help of San Francisco investors, he expanded and created what became "the largest winegrowing estate in the world, and also the most unprofitable."
On July 6, 1869 Agoston's horse was found, with the pistols still in the saddle holster. He was exploring rum production opportunities in Nicaragua and apparently fell into a stream.
Perhaps mercifully, the S.F. 1906 earthquake caused the collapse of the winery's stone tunnels and Buena Vista was forgotten.
It's 1941 in Sacramento. San Francisco newsman Frank Bartholomew buys at auction 435 acres of Sonoma land he's never seen, planning to build a country home. Puzzled by what might be ruins of a winery, Frank invites the dean of American wine history writers, Leon Adams, to take a look. Leon did and announced that the newsman had bought Buena Vista in repose. The Bartholomew family changed plans and became vintners, restoring the storage tunnels, etc. (I got goose bumps when I first entered those tunnels 25 years ago.)
That's enough Buena background. Let's eat!
The Zinfandel Cookbook (by Nix and Smith)
Our choice is a dish created in California just as the Count was about to create Buena Vista. I grew up on it, as my father loved to cook it, since we could get sensational oysters from a nearby seafood shop on the shores of Puget Sound. The dish is a child of the Gold Rush, born in Hangtown (later Placerville). It's an egg-and-oyster one-skillet meal loved by hungry miners. The recipe is on page 58 of the cookbook; to order, phone (800)600-9086, FX (650)851-5579 Oh yes, the name of the dish? Hangtown Fry.
Postscript—Eggs & Oysters
Authors Nix and Smith tell us that the cost of an egg in the Gold Country was about 5O cents. The cost of an oyster there? Don't ask.
06/23/00—Winegrowing in Canada?
06/22/00—The Lytton Legacy
06/21/00—Death of a Wine
06/20/00—What Tom Wrought
06/19/00—Vee-ohn-yea Is On Its Way
06/16/00—From Hardy to Taltarni
06/15/00—Sunday Is Father's Day
06/14/00—Napoleon Takes Marengo
06/13/00—Rats! Not Enough Grapes
06/12/00—Quite a...Few Good Men
06/09/00—Much Ado About Peju
06/08/00—A Fantastic Fusion
06/07/00—Sing a Song of Sirah
06/06/00—From Movies to Monterey
06/05/00—An Ovation for the Bride
06/01/00—The Father of the Brides!
This page created June 2000