Though they’ve never made it into any major horror films, wineries and vineyards have decent ghost story potential with their dark cavernous cellars and acres upon acres of isolated fields (think Children of the Vines). The following American wineries, broken down by region, are also supposedly haunted, by their own real-life spirits. Read on for the stories behind these ghosts among the grapes.
Miles Wine Cellars
According to legend a young couple died tragically in the Greek Revival Mansion housing Miles Wine Cellars, perhaps accounting for the strange phenomena—flying comforters, slamming doors—experienced by current owners Doug Miles and Suzie Hayes. Rather than shying away from the property, Miles and Hayes decided to honor their spirits with a Chardonnay blend called Ghost; the label features a youthful man and woman embracing on the mansion’s front porch.
A group of paranormal trackers, in a long list of supernatural findings, mentioned disembodied female wailing, at Nehalem Bay Winery, an old remote winery located on the coast. They purported cause was unwanted pregnancy. Perhaps, Nehalem Bay is also visited by the ghost of Lena Elsie Imus, a Dundee, Oregon woman who, at the age of 25, poisoned herself in what is now Argyle Winery’s tasting room in 1908. The backstory: Lena was pregnant and the father had recently told her he was leaving. At Argyle, workers and owners have noted flickering lights, wafting floral fragrances in the air, laughter emanating from empty areas and glasses that fall but do not break. Overall though, Lena is viewed as a benevolent spirit and, despite her less-than-stellar taste in men, is the inspiration behind Argyle’s Spirithouse collection of wine.
CALIFORNIA: The following stories have been paraphrased from Ghost Hunter’s Guide to California’s Wine Country, by Jeff Dwyer, a compendium of all haunted sites within California’s wine appellations (available on Amazon).
Frog’s Leap Winery
Visitors at this Rutherford winery have claimed they’ve experienced icy sensations when passing Barrel 19. The explanation, as documented by Dwyer, has nothing to do with temperature variables in wine storage. Instead, that localized area is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Adamson, one of the winery’s original owners (the initial name was Adamson Winery), who, in 1894, killed herself by drinking poison beside that particular barrel; the reason for her suicide unknown.
Stag’s Leap Winery
The ghost of a well-dressed woman has been observed in the manor house by many, including former winemaker Robert Brittan, who believes this apparition to be that of a prostitute who died in the house. According to Dwyer, Brittan refrained from revealing her response to his “Excuse me.”
Bartholomew Park Winery
According to workers, the sound of female voices singing hymns fills the air in the late afternoon and early evenings at this Sonoma winery whose previous incarnations included a State Farm for Delinquent Women, a women’s prison and a home for unwed mothers. The musical ghosts also enjoy listening to tapes and CD’s and express their approval of certain songs by replaying them—they’re said to be particularly partial to Greensleves and tunes by the Celtic musician Loreena McKennit (Disapproval is demonstrated by knocking the CD player from the table.) Others have encountered Madeleine, a friendly spirit who might have been a nurse—according to reports, she’s pleased with the establishment’s current life form and the many visitors who stop by.