ne of California’s first sheriffs, Agoston Haraszthy was elected Sheriff of San Diego County in 1850. He built the first jail and served two colorful years before moving north to pursue “purple gold” – the perfect terroir for fine wines. He found it in Sonoma County where he established Buena Vista Winery in 1857. Our wine honors his pioneering legacy in law enforcement and winegrowing, as well as all of those individuals who protect and serve our communities.
The story of our illustrious founder, Count Agoston Haraszthy, is as long as it is colorful. After leaving the nobility behind in Hungary and before planting his grapes in at Buena Vista, The Count undertook a nine-month journey by wagon train from Wisconsin to the glimmering Pacific in hopes of finding Gold in California. Never one to pass on an entrepreneurial opportunity, Haraszthy first settled in the coastal town of San Diego where he purchased land, planted grapevines, and on April 1st, 1850 was elected the first Sherriff of the County of San Diego.
San Diego in 1850 was a lively town; hotels, saloons, and gambling parlors surrounded all edges of the central Plaza, serving the many travelers passing through as well as locals desirous of excitement. San Diego’s first jail, built by the Count himself, was rarely empty long. After its completion, the citizens of San Diego passed new rules and regulations to officially calm their restive, adventurous citizens. Ordinances prohibiting, “riotous or disorderly noise by firing guns, pistols, or otherwise,” and forbidding the, “slaughter of cattle, goats, or swine on the public streets,” led to The Count often explaining to troublemakers that, “you must stop shooting off your pistols in the streets, or I will be forced to throw all of you into the hoosegow!” In all these actions it was the Count who pulled his pistol on wrong-doers, and marched them off to jail.
We wanted to create a wine that would be representative not only of The Count of Buena Vista’s role as the first sheriff in San Diego County, but that would be worthy of every sheriff in America today. This powerful wine is brimming with personality. It’s authoritative and loyal, a bold combination of Cabernet, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. Like the men who are elected to serve their counties, this wine has a robust magnetism that commands a room (or dinner table) and bridges the gap between traditional and extraordinary.
While the office of Sheriff dates back over 1000 years to 9th century England. America’s fascination with this ultimate law enforcement figure can be traced to the exploration of the Western Frontier and the role sheriffs played in taming the wild, Wild West.
In the late 1840’s news of the discovery of gold in California lead to the great westward migration. Dreams of streets littered with gold soon turned to the rough realities of living on the edge of civilization. Almost as soon as they arrived, settlers found
themselves under attack from thieves and bandits who couldn’t wait to take advantage of the vulnerable, travel weary pioneers. Unlike the cities they left back east, few towns had local police and law enforcement was left completely in the hands of the county sheriffs.
Armed with only a six-shooter and the power invested in them through their star-shaped badge, sheriffs valiantly confronted wagon train robbers, horse thieves and murders all in defense of their counties. Men, like San Diego’s first sheriff Agoston Haraszthy, found themselves quite busy protecting the newly acquired gold of the residents in each of their jurisdictions in addition to dealing with unruly citizens hell-bent on causing a ruckus. Unlike their law enforcement brethren serving dutifully on police forces back east, sheriffs were held accountable by the fact that they were democratically elected office holders beholden to the wills and whims of those they were charged to protect.
Today, the role of the sheriff has evolved and varies across counties. Recognized as the highest law enforcement officer in the county, the sheriff is still an elected office. From administering the county jail to serving warrants and even patrolling the areas outside of city and town limits, the jurisdiction of the sheriff is as wide and varied as ever. There are over 3,000 sheriffs across the country protecting every state but Hawaii. On average, sheriffs serve their communities between 12 to 14 years, making them one of the most tenured and most trusted officials in their local governments.