Autumn is a spirited season – in more ways than one. And in keeping with this time of year, a look at ghost wineries seems fitting.
A ghost winery is similar to a ghost town – it is a winery that was built in Napa Valley during the beginning of California’s winemaking boom, from 1860 – 1900, but then abandoned. You might say, its a winery haunted by its past…
|Down the Drain|
By then the Great Depression had swept through the country. During this long period of economic hardship, few people had any money to spend on such luxuries as alcohol.
It was not until the 1970s that the California wine industry, and Napa Valley, was able to get back on its feet. Some of the old ghost wineries were taken over and the rich histories of the early wineries began to be preserved and enhanced.
|Inside V Marketplace|
|Napa Ghost Winery Rental|
And a lucky few are back in business as wineries, renovated and restaged into state-of-the-art winemaking facilities for a new century, and a different world.
A Few Famous Ghosts
Far Niente – Oakville, CA
Benson, Far Niente (meaning “sweet to do nothing”) was one of Napa’s original stone wineries. The winery was prosperous until Prohibition. Benson disappeared in 1919 leaving the winery and buildings to the elements. In 1979, the winery was restored, and the first harvest in over 60 years was celebrated in 1982. Far Niente is now in the National Register of Historic Places.
Charles Krug, St Helena, CA
|Charles Krug in 1874|
|Charles Krug Winery|
Chateau Montelena, Calistoga, CA
There are many more living legends scattered around Napa Valley. If you’d like to learn more, author Irene W. Haynes wrote a book in 1980 called “Ghost Wineries of Napa Valley: A Photographic Tour of the Last Century”. The book is a pictorial history of more than 65 ghost wineries; some decrepit, or long gone, others rescued and revived.
These ghost wineries offer us a glimpse back at the first dynamic California wine industry of more than 100 years ago, and a chance to experience their rebirth as we link past and present together in order to keep that spirit alive.