Definition - What does Agoston Haraszthy mean?
Agoston Haraszthy was a Hungarian-American who is referred to as the "Father of California Viticulture." He was also one of the first to plant vineyards and the first hops in Wisconsin and the founder of Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma.
His life story has become legendary, including travels back to Europe in which he returned from bringing 100,000 cuttings of 350 different vine varieties to California with intentions on distributing throughout the state.
WineFrog explains Agoston Haraszthy
Agoston Haraszthy was born into a noble family in 1812 in Pest, Hungary. There he owned estates in southern Hungary where vines were cultivated and wine was made.
In 1840, Agoston left Hungary for the US. He crossed the Atlantic arriving in New York where he made his way on the Hudson River, the Erie Canal and then to the Great Lakes of Wisconsin. Once in Wisconsin he purchased a large property on the west bank of the Wisconsin River near Madison and founded a town, naming it Széptaj (today, Sauk City), "a beautiful place," in Hungarian. There he planted grapes and dug wine cellars into the hillsides. This is the current home of the Lake Wisconsin AVA and the Wollersheim winery, the 2nd oldest winery in the US.
Later he moved to California and planted a vineyard near the San Diego River with imported grape vines from the eastern US and Europe. His entrepreneurial spirit kept him moving, however, and he moved to Sonoma later where he planted 5,000 acres and founded Buena Vista winery.
In 1861 he was appointed as a state commissioner to report on the means to improve the growth of grape vines in California.