The biddies dive into the story of Count Agoston Harasthy who has appeared in several episodes and is sometimes referred to as “the father of California wine”. He also founded a town in Wisconsin, and yes… was possibly eaten by a crocodile.


Listen here.

On Spotify

On Apple Podcasts

We’re also on Stitcher, iHeartRadio,, Overcast, CastBox and iVox


Study Notes for Agoston Haraszthy:

*Please note some of these lines might be directly taken from sources noted above.

  • Born in Pest, Hungary
  • Extremely well educated and cultured – literate in 16 languages
  • 1840 – left Hungary for the US becoming the first Hungarian to settle her permanently
  • First stop was Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin where he founded the oldest incorporated village in the state – Haraszthy Town
  • He operated the first steamboat to engage in scheduled traffic on the upper Mississippi
  • Eventually moved to California where he planted a vineyard, operated a livery stable, stage line, and butcher shop
  • Became the first town marshal, first county sheriff and builder of the first city jail in San Diego
  • Attempted to collect taxes at Agua Caliente which resulted in a violent Indian uprising and martial law in SD
  • When the US mint was established in San Francisco, President Pierce appointed Harqaszthy as assayer
    • Resigned due to concerns about losses of gold leading to a grand jury investigation where he was charged with embezzling over 150k but later exonerated 
  • 1857 – purchase land at Sonoma, named it Buena Vista where he planted 25 acres of grapes which more than doubled the total vines in all of Sonoma
    • Experimented with new techniques such as using redwood for barrels, planting on hillsides, hiring Chinese workers, digging tunnels for storage and planting vines closer together
  • 1861 – commissioned by the state legislature to travel to europe to collect and purchase grapevine specimens of every variety
    • Traveled to France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and brought back over 100,000 cuttings of 250 varieties
    • Didn’t get reimbursed so he had to take care of, propagate and sell them all on his own
    • Elected president of the california state agricultural society
  • 1868 – traveled to Nicaragua with plans to develop a large sugar plantation
    • His wife joined him but died of yellow fever and he went home to handle her estate
    • 1869 – returned to Nicaragua and set out on a mule to discuss the construction progress of a new saw mill
    • Appeared he had tried to cross a river along a fallen tree and lost his balance and was either pulled under by an alligator or swept out to the shark infested ocean