Meet the Muse at Buena Vista
Patrons, philanthropists and just plain people who want to support the plethora of nonprofit organizations doing good in Sonoma Valley may look a little frayed around the edges of late.
The season of giving, which seems to expand each year but hits its stride by mid-summer, includes a dizzying variety of events including the Red and White Ball, La Luz’s Noche en Casbah, the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, the Vintage Festival, the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Fashion in the Vineyard, Plein Air and B.R. Cohn’s Charity Fall Music Festival.
But that’s just a partial list and it’s not over yet.
Perhaps you’re familiar with Count Agoston Haraszthy, the Hungarian nobleman who wasn’t really a count, or even a colonel, as he variously claimed, but who genuinely fathered the California wine industry and gave birth to Buena Vista, the Wine Country equivalent of … let’s say, Bethlehem.
But the winery was in danger of slipping into historical obscurity and structural collapse, caught as it was in a recirculating eddy of corporate ownerships more dedicated to the bottom line than to preservation of its storied past.
At least that was so until fortuitous chance delivered ownership of Buena Vista into the hands of French wine magnate Jean-Charles Boisett, who immediately began a ground-up, ceiling-down and formidably expensive restoration, with a near-visionary commitment to preserving and promoting the history locked in those old stone walls.
The result, unveiled a little more than a month ago, is magnificent and perhaps just shy of miraculous because, without the Boisett renovation, the ancient walls could have crumbled into dust. They are now stunningly restored and seismically safe.
Enter the Sonoma Community Center, which has chosen Count Haraszthy as its 2012 fundraising Muse, and Buena Vista as the obvious venue.
The Muse – for those who haven’t experienced one – is much more than the community center’s primary fundraising vehicle. It is an annual effort to revive public awareness of the Sonoma Valley’s most cherished people and places. Honoring Haraszthy at his restored winery is perfect serendipity.
And supporting the community center is one of the most valuable charitable gifts any of us can make. Listing the classes, activities and events the Sonoma Community Center produces each year would fill this space. You can see an e-edition of the center’s catalog at sonomacommunitycenter.org – it’s seven pages long.
The community center also produces the City Party, the Fourth of July Parade and Party, hosts theatrical presentations in Andrews Hall and serves as the hub of learning experiences that enrich the entire Valley.
If we didn’t have the Sonoma Community Center, the city would be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to fund a recreation and parks department that likely couldn’t provide half the services available from the SCC.
The Muse at Buena Vista will be a stunning experience and rumor has it Haraszthy himself will be on hand. Tickets are $175, there will be no live auction because Boisett has generously offered to host the entire event at no cost, but a silent auction can be viewed online, where tickets can also be purchased.