These California ghost wineries live up to their name

Sara Schneider,  – September 4, 2007

More ghost wineries to visit

At Beringer Vineyards’ stately Rhine House in St. Helena,California, nighttime workers often hear footsteps where there areno people. A translucent woman wanders the upstairs hall of the oldManor House at Stags’ Leap Winery in Napa. And La Presencia haunts tank 19 in the Red Barn at Frog’s Leapin Rutherford.

What these spirits have in common is that the structures theyinhabit are also ghosts ― a designation loosely given towineries operating in Northern California before the 18th Amendmentbanning the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicatingliquors” was ratified in 1919. Prohibition effectively killed mostof them.

The ghost wineries are the skeletons in the industry’scollective closet: Many were built, so to speak, on the backs ofChinese laborers, who erected the thick stone walls and toiled inthe vineyards. They’re also reminders of Northern California’sfirst glory days, when “Napa” became an important wine credentialin the world. Some wineries ― like Far Niente, Spotts-woode,and Ladera, in addition to the “haunted” ones preceding ―have been restored to their former grandeur (andfunctionality).

In October, if you’re in the area, you can take a lantern tourof Ladera Vineyards onHowell Mountain (by appointment only; $50, including tasting; 150White Cottage Rd. S., Angwin, CA; 707/965-2445).


Enjoy both wine and history across the Napa Valley.

Bremer Family Winery See everything from harvest techniques to barrel aging on thetour. INFO: Tour and tasting free; reservations required; 975 DeerPark Rd., St. Helena; 707/963-5411. -Megan Brady

Far Niente The tour includes the historic winery, new wine caves, and theCarriage House (with vintage cars). INFO: Tour and tasting (withseasonal cheese pairing) $50; reservations required; 1350 AcaciaDr., Oakville; 707/944-2861. -M.B.

Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards The tour covers vineyards, the pavilion area, and the caves,which are new but located within the historic winery. INFO: Tourand tasting $20; ages 21 and over only, reservations required; 1978W. Zinfandel Lane, St. Helena; 707/967-6723. -M.B.

Frog’s Leap Winery The winery, garden, and historic Red Barn are featured on thisfamily-friendly tour. INFO: Closed Sun; tour and tasting free;reservations required for tour; 8815 Conn Creek Rd., Rutherford;[email protected] or 800/959-4704. -M.B.

Mayacamas Vineyards A family-friendly tour covers both the old and new sections ofthe winery. INFO: Tour and tasting free; reservations required;1155 Lokoya Rd., Napa; [email protected] or 707/224-4030.-M.B.

Rubicon Estate Explore the winery, château, and museum on the LegacyTour at the historic former Inglenook Winery. Taste five wines fromdirector Francis Ford Coppola’s rechristened label (previouslyknown as Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery). INFO: $25 estate entrancefee includes Legacy Tour and tasting (for an additional fee, youcan tour the vineyards and learn more about wine); reservationsrequired; 1991 St. Helena Hwy./State 29, Rutherford;[email protected] or 866/393-7787. -Anupama Oza

Schramsberg Vineyards At this sparkling-wine producer, pass by the historic wineryand home (both are still in use) on a tour of the garden andhistoric caves. INFO: Tour and tasting $25; reservations required;1400 Schramsberg Rd., Calistoga; [email protected] or707/942-4558. -M.B.

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery The tour covers the winery, estate property, and offices (aVictorian farmhouse), all historic properties. INFO: Tour andtasting free; reservations required; 1902 Madrona Ave., St. Helena;[email protected] or 707/963-0134. -M.B.

Spring Mountain Vineyard The winery, 1885 mansion, antique horse barn (now a museum),vineyard, olive grove, and the old and new wine caves are all partof the tour. INFO: Tour and tasting $25; reservations required;2805 Spring Mountain Rd., St. Helena; [email protected] or877/769-4637. -M.B.

Storybook Mountain Vineyards Wine caves are the only remnant of the original winery. Seethem and the vineyards on a tour that includes a tasting in thecaves. INFO: Closed Sun; tour and tasting free for groups of 10 orless; reservations required; 3835 State 128, Calistoga;[email protected] or 707/942-5310. -A.O.

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