Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunted Wineries of the Northwestern U.S.

It’s Halloween – the perfect time to explore a haunted winery or two.  This is our last look at haunted U.S. wineries, so pour a glass of something dark and brooding as we explore some ‘spirited’ wineries, and those who make them so…

Chateau Ste Michelle is the oldest winery in Washington State and one of the most acclaimed.  Located near Woodinville on 105 wooded acres, Chateau Ste Michelle is also said to be haunted. 

The Manor House was built in 1912 by Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson.  The winery actually began in 1934 with the formation of the Pommerelle Wine Company, which made fruit wines, and the National Wine Company.  In 1954, the two companies merged to form American Wine Growers.  Ste Michelle began in 1967 as a new line of wines for the AWG Company.

Nine years later, in 1976, a French style Chateau was built in Woodinville and the name was changed to Chateau Ste Michelle.  In 1984, the winery helped obtain federal BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco) recognition of the Columbia Valley as an AVA (American Viticulture Area.)

The original Manor House is the location of most spirited reports.  It is used for meetings and special dinners held in connection to the winery. 

According to staff, a female ghost haunts the back servants stairs of the house, which connects to the kitchen and second floor. Windows on the upper level open on their own, lights go on and off, and doors open and close, seemingly at will.  Cold spots, shadows and footsteps also seem to move from the stairs to the second floor rooms.

Chateau Ste Michelle is open during the winter from 10 A.M. to 5P.M.  For more information, visit


Another spirited female keeps employees on their toes at Argyle Winery in Dundee, Oregon.  Located in the Willamette Valley, Argyle Winery was founded in 1987.  Argyle is celebrating its 25th year in business this year, but its ghost has been around for over a century.

The female spirit that haunts the winery is believed to be that of Lena Elsie Imus.  Lena lived in the house that is now the winery and committed suicide there in 1908 by swallowing carbolic acid. She was 25 years old. According to news reports she was unconscious for ten hours after ingesting the acid.  She was then awake for 24 hours before she died.  During that time she said she had become depressed and thought she had nothing to live for.

But apparently Lena wasn’t ready to move on.  Employees report smelling flowery perfume in the house, laughter comes from empty rooms, lights turn on and off, footsteps can be heard upstairs when no one is there, and gusts of air blow through the house when it is still outside.  Staff also reports that glasses have been heard breaking and shattering in other 
rooms, but when investigated no glass can be found.

Argyle Winery is known for its Pinot Noir wines and they have named one in honor of Lena.  SpiritHouse Pinot Noir is a tribute to Argyle’s resident ghost.

Lena Imus is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Dundee, along side her father and two brothers.  On her tombstone are inscribed the words, “Not Dead, But Gone Before”……

Argyle Winery is open daily from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M.  If you stop in, be sure to try the SpiritHouse wine and raise a glass in honor of Lena.  For more information, visit

If you have enjoyed this series on haunted wineries, check out A Grave Interest @
for a look at haunted cemeteries.

Happy Halloween!!

~ Joy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Haunted Wineries of the West

It’s October, when thoughts turn to harvest, Halloween, and hauntings – the perfect time to explore a haunted winery or two.  This month, Joy’s JOY of Wine will take a look at haunted wineries across the U.S. and the world. So pour a glass of something dark and brooding as we explore some ‘spirited’ wineries, and those who make them so…

Inglenook (formerly Rubicon)
It began as Inglenook Winery back in 1879, and was founded by Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain.  He became one of the original partners in the Alaska Commercial Company, and one of the richest men in the world, at the time. Niebaum was also one of the original commercial winemakers in Napa Valley. 

Inglenook (which means, cozy area,) was named by the original property owner, William  Watson.  Niebaum kept the name when he acquired the property.  In 1975, Francis Ford Coppla bought 1,500 acres of the property.  The brand name and the historic winery, along with the 94 remaining acres were purchased by Heublein, Incorporated.  Heublein then began producing lower grade wines and releasing them under the Inglenook name.

In 1995, Coppla acquired the winery and remaining acreage.  He renamed it the Niebaum-Coppla Estate Winery.  Coppla later renamed it Rubicon Estate Winery.  Finally, in 2011, Coppla bought the rights to the historic Inglenook name and renamed the estate and wine brand by its original designation, Inglenook Winery.

It is thought that Niebaum is one of three ghosts that haunt Inglenook today.  Always a stickler for a spotless winery, many have seen Niebaum inspecting the cleanliness of the buildings and wine making areas.  Those who have seen him describe the apparition as a tall, slender man with a white beard,

Employees believe the second ghost is that of Niebaum's general manager, John Armstrong.  Armstrong can sometimes be seen outside of the winery doors, surveying the buildings and the land.

The third spirit wandering the grounds of Inglenook is thought to be that of Niebaum’s great grand-nephew, John Daniel, Jr. The Daniel family inherited the estate when Niebaum’s widow, Susan, died in 1936.  John Daniels, Jr. took over the winery operation and increased its reputation in the coming years.

Inglenook Winery is located at 1919 St Helena Highway
Rutherford, California.  Learn more at

Stags Leap Winery
Another California winery with restless spirits is Stags Leap Winery.  Built in 1888, by Horace and Minnie Chase, the 240-acre property was one of California’s first wine estates.

The Manor House was built of stone, with a crenellated corner tower constructed from local quarried rock.  The home has been put to several uses over the past 124 years. including as a residence, a resort, a rooming house, a brothel, a retreat for WWII navy personnel, left abandoned for a time, and now, as a winery.  Gangsters, gypsies, and bootleggers have all frequented the Manor House, which could explain why it is haunted…

Among the strange phenomena reported, doors open and close on their own, along with unexplained sounds echoing throughout the house.

Several have told of seeing a young woman on the second floor, possible a prostitute from when the home was used as a bordello.  The woman usually ignores any one present and continues on her way, walking through walls and doors. But she has supposedly spoken to one employee, although he would not repeat what she said.

Another employee reported three separate incidents when an acorn fell on his desk.  After searching the room and finding no way for the acorns to have appeared, the staff agreed that it must be the resident ghost having a bit of sport.  The three acorns are available for visitors to see in the Manor’s Library room.

Stags Leap Winery is open 7 days a week, 362 days a year. For information on wine tastings, or historical tours, visit

Beringer was founded in 1876 by two German brothers, Fredrick and Jacob Beringer.  The 17-room Victorian mansion was built in the same style as the family's original home in Germany.  The mansion was completed in 1884 and later named the Rhine House.

The home was later used as an inn during the 1940’s, and refurbished in the 1970’s.  It was placed on the National List of Historic Places in 1971. Beringer’s was bought out by Foster’s Brewing Group of Australia in 2000.

Ghosts and hauntings have been reported here for years.  In fact, a list of events reported by staff and employees are kept in a file. Many have seen apparitions appear in and near the Avenue of Elms in front of the property.

During the late 1870's and early 80's, the Beringer Brothers had tunnels dug into the side of Spring Mountain.  This was so the wines could be aged in the perfect conditions provided there. (Temperatures around 58 to 60 Fahrenheit and humidity of 75 – 80%, year-round.)  However, the tunnels, chiseled out by hand, were dug at a price.  Some Chinese immigrant workers lost their lives when tunnels collapsed before being finished. Those workers who never made it out are said to haunt the tunnels where  they were trapped and died.

But the most active location on the property appears to be the original Rhine House Mansion.  The staff and public have  reported the sound of footsteps when no one is near, and lights turning on and off.  A man has been seen walking through walls by employees, after the house has closed for the day.

Several incidents have been reported in the Founder’s Tasting Room, what was once Fredrick Beringer’s bedroom. Reports include a feeling of being watched, and objects begin moved or thrown halfway across the room. Many believe the ghost is that of Fredrick Beringer, still keeping an eye on his beloved winery and vineyards.

In 2001, the estate was placed on the National Register for Historic Places as a Historic District.  To learn more about the oldest continuously-operating winery in the valley, visit

Next week, our final look at haunted wineries – this time in the Northwestern U.S.

~ Joy

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Haunted Wineries of the Midwest

It’s October, when thoughts turn to harvest, Halloween, and hauntings – the perfect time to explore a haunted winery or two.  This month, Joy’s JOY of Wine will take a look at haunted wineries across the U.S. and the world. So pour a glass of something dark and brooding as we explore some ‘spirited’ wineries, and those who make them so…

Dozier Vineyard and Winery began when a hobby went awry.  Bruce and Nina Dozier purchased 48 acres of ground in Ellinwood, Kansas in 1998 to start a vineyard and winery on.

The Dozier’s decided that the abandoned Santa Fe railroad depot structure, located on the property, would be the perfect place for their main winery building.  Renovations began, and the spirits were moved.  

Locals claim that they have seen the ghost of a young woman dressed in a white wedding dress waiting outside the depot (now the winery,) with a minister.  Others claim that she paces the dirt road in front of the winery.

Legend has it that the young bride-to-be was waiting for her fiancee so they could be married before he went to war.  But the train did not stop that day and her intended was taken off to battle where he was killed.

Unfortunately, Dozier Vineyard and Winery is now closed. But that means little to the bride-to-be who still waits for her love to disembark at the lonely train depot....

The most well known haunted winery in the Midwest is located in the “Show Me” state.  And, it appears that they have a lot of spirits to show….

Belvoir Winery, in Liberty, Missouri, is located on the grounds of the former I.O.O.F. – Independent Order of Odd Fellows District Home.  Belvoir is French for “beautiful view,” and that’s what the owners, Dr John and Marsha Bean, thought when they saw the I.O.O.F. property in the 1990’s.  They knew this was the place for their winery and vineyard.  But once they began work on the buildings, they realized they had more than rooms with a view…

The I.O.O.F. is one of the largest fraternal and benevolent organizations in the U.S.  The Missouri Odd Fellows built the complex around 1900 as a place to care for the elderly, indigent and orphaned.  The buildings were constructed in the Jacobethan Revival style. 

Today, only three of the original buildings remain, the Administration building, the Old Folks building, (nursing home,) and the Old Hospital.  The winery occupies the Odd Fellows Administration Building, the oldest structure on the property.  The basement was renovated to be used as the wine cellar and processing area.  The first floor holds the winery, ice cream shop, and event rooms.

Several paranormal investigative groups have been to Belvoir Winery.  All have reported some type of activity.  Reports range from footsteps, screams, and unidentified laughter, to male spirits, shadows that move on their own, and clothing being tugged on.  Much of the activity is reported to be in the cellar area of the winery.

There has been enough activity on the grounds and in the buildings that Belvoir Winery offers public and private paranormal investigations of the facilities. Paranormal Research Investigators heads up the monthly public sessions.  According to PRI members, Belvoir is one of the most haunted locations they have investigated.

There is also an I.O.O.F. cemetery on the property.  A plot, headstone and funeral were available to all Odd Fellow members when the district home was in operation.  Over 600 members are interred here.

While home to numerous ghosts, Belvoir Winery is also home to six wines.  The winery is open seven days a week and free tastings are available.  To learn more, or schedule a ghostly tour, visit

Next week, we follow the spirits westward…..

~ Joy