Haunted Wineries: Spooky Ghost Stories

We're pretty sure you're all stocked up on Halloween wines like BLACK CAT Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Rutherford, Calif.) $55; GRAY GHOST VINEYARDS Gewurztraminer 2011 (Virginia) $19, or CONCHA y TORO Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Chile) $9. Or maybe you'd prefer some 2009 Eye of Newt, a saucy pinot noir rosé from WITCH CREEK WINERY (San Diego County) $17?

Now, my pretties, all you need are some spooky ghost stories and wine trivia to share at your party. Just don't read these after dark.

Did you know the phrase "ghost winery" doesn't have aything to do with a winery that's haunted? It refers to the hundreds of wineries that were abandoned during Prohibition and left to fall into disrepair. You can see the ruins of the circa 1890 Summit Ranch Winery up at PRIDE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS.

Jim Concannon, who runs CONCANNON VINEYARD in Livermore Valley, thinks the winery just may be haunted by the spirit of his grandfather, James. Even though the building was protected by an alarm, they've come in and found all the partial bottles in the tasting room uncorked. Lights go on and off without explanation and the lab technicians will feel a cool breeze and see a figure outside the window — the lab is where James once had his office.

Forty-five minutes east of Cleveland, REGAL VINEYARDS is a brand new family outfit that took over the old site of the first winery ever established in Ashtabula County. While waiting for their vines to mature, the family has turned their property into a haunted winery and seven-acre corn maze where locals can get scared silly. There's also a real ghost story: paranormal investigators say they discovered the ghost of an 8-year-old girl named Crystal inhabiting the 100-year-old house. Their neighbors at GRAND RIVER CELLARS are bottling a red blend called BLOOD RED WINE and a FRIGHT WHITE Pinot Grigio; call 440-298-9838 to inquire.

Somewhere safe in Missouri (we hope), there's an antique wine box known as the "DYBBUK BOX" — the name comes from a Yiddish term for a homeless spirit looking for someone to cling to. According to an account in the River Front Times, the box with metal grape designs on front is believed to have caused all sorts of misfortune and illnesses for anyone who's owned it. And while it inspired the producers and writers of the exorcism movie The Possession, it also freaked them out to the point where they didn't want to even see the thing in person.

THE WINERY AT MARJIM MANOR, a Victorian style mansion in Appleton, N.Y., is well known for its fruit wines made from apples, pears, and cranberries. But it's also been featured on the Travel Channel series Most Terrifying Places in America, as well as Ghost Hunters. It seems that people regularly report seeing misty figures and feeling cold; according to legend, the Manor — originally called Appleton Hall — is overrun with apparitions, including original owner Shubal Scudder Merritt and a dog named Duke.