Meet Val Haraszthy from Haraszthy Family Winery

A few years ago, while in Sonoma, our Wine & Spirits directors met Val at a mutual friends winery. Since then we’ve been proud and fortunate to offer Haraszthy Family Cellars who specialize exclusively in the production of hand crafted Zinfandels.

Val’s story is pretty unique in the wine business and began six generations ago in Sonoma, CA.  Val’s two great-great grandfathers are well-known California pioneers and historic Sonoma legends. Mexican General Mariano Vallejo founded Sonoma in 1835 and made wine in the army barracks still located on Sonoma’s town square. He was forced at gun point to relinquish California to the Bear Flaggers – a self proclaimed and rather nasty group who declared California a republic for themselves on June 14, 1846- the precursor to California official statehood 25 days later.

Hungarian born, Agoston Haraszthy emigrated to the U.S. in 1842 and chased gold west.  He built Buena Vista winery in Sonoma in 1857, arguably the first winery in California. Following construction, he imported the first full array of European wine varieties into California in 1861. The effort resulted in him being referred to as, “The Father of California Viticulture.” Before settling in CA however, Haraszthy began his new life in  Wisconsin, Haraszthy purchased a large tract of property on the west bank of the river and laid out a town. First called Széptaj (Hungarian for “beautiful place”), later Haraszthy (or Haraszthyville or Haraszthopolis), the town was renamed Westfield and finally Sauk City after Haraszthy left for California in 1849. Many of the oldest houses still standing in Sauk City were built with bricks from Haraszthy’s brickyard. On the east side of the Wisconsin River, in what became the Town of Roxbury, Haraszthy planted grapes and dug wine cellars into hillside slopes above the river. The cellars and slopes are today home to the Wollersheim Winery.

Come meet Val yourself when he visits our stores this week: 

  • October 16th
    • Whitefish Bay 1-3pm
    • Mequon 4-6pm
  • October 17th
    • Grafton 1-3pm
    • Germantown 4-6pm
  • October 18th
    • Hartland 12-2pm
    • New Berlin 3-5pm
News, Wine & Spirits | October 14th, 2014