Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Haunted Wineries of the Eastern U.S.

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…
The Winery at Marjim Manor in Appleton, New York, has a reputation - for being haunted.  Many people report feeling watched while in the building.  The owners have heard voices, seen objects move on their own, and the apparition of two men has been observed.

The manor actually began as a family home. Built in 1854 by Shubal Scudder Merrit for his wife and children, members of the family resided there until 1895.  Dr. Charles Ring then purchased the house for his wife, Hannah.  They named it Appleton.

In 1933, the Sisters of St. Joseph purchased the home.  They turned the house into a nuns’ retreat, created a farm school for deaf boys, and formed a camp for girls.  The Sisters stayed for 60 years.

In 1993, the home was purchased for use by Gardner Graphics.  After ten years, it was sold again. In 2003, current owner, Margo Bittner bought the house in order to turn it into a winery.  One year later, the Winery at Marjim Manor opened with ten different types of wines. 

So who or what haunts this winery?  Reports indicate that possible ghosts include the first owner, Shubal Scudder Merritt, Shubal’s son Lewis, who was accidentally shot by his father and died in the house.  Second owner, Dr Charles Ring is said to appear in the manor at times. And so does Duke, one of the dogs that lived with the Sisters of St. Joseph. 

While most wineries tend to play down otherworld occurrences, Marjim embraces it.   The winery has been featured on the Travel Channel’s  Most Terrifying Places in America and on Ghost Hunters. 

Want a chance to see the sprits?  Private group ghost hunts can be scheduled for Friday or Saturday nights with 4 weeks notice and a minimum of ten guests.  The Winery at Marjim Manor also offers wine tastings, tours, and events.  For more information visit their web page @


Miles Wine Cellar in Himrod, New York is another winery with a haunted past.  Located in a Greek Revival Mansion, the grounds over overlook Seneca Lake, in the New York Finger Lakes Wine region.

According to local legend, a young couple from the Victoria era can be seen on the front porch in an embrace.  Rumor has it that they died tragically in the house, but no one has actually been able to trace the story.

Doug Miles and Suzy Hayes have lived in the home since the eighties.  They report several incidents of slamming doors throughout the house, mists rising from the floors, and bed quilts being thrown about the room. (And did I mention there is also a family cemetery on the grounds?)

In 2003, the winery released a white wine, appropriately named “Ghost.”  The bottle features a silk-screened image of a Victorian woman, with the mansion visible among her skirts.  The wine is still in production.

Miles Wine Cellars offers wine tastings, a café with seasonal food offerings, and an inn where you can spend the night.  The Inn at Miles Wine Cellars is located in the mansion.  A two-night stay is required.   Learn more @
Have a favorite haunted winery?  Let me know where the spirits imbibe….

~ Joy