Note: The following article was originally written by Jess Lander and published in the Napa Valley Register on October 11, 2018 and can be found here.
Creepy visitors, ghostly wines: Flora Springs gets into the spirit of Halloween
As a tribute to their 1885 ghost winery, one of the few remaining in the area, Flora Springs Winery goes all out for Halloween.
You can’t miss the trio of enormous skeletons that dance outside their Highway 29 tasting room in St. Helena. Inside, the walls are covered in cobwebs, rooms are transformed into a crematorium and morgue, and you might just find a headless horseman sitting at your table and struggling to sip his wine (for a lack of mouth). But the decorations, done by local design team, The Baker Sisters, are just the beginning. The winery’s Halloween preparation starts months in advance.
For eight years running, Flora Springs has released a collection of limited release, Halloween wines. Featuring custom labels and usually 100 percent bottlings of varieties that are traditionally used for blending, the initiative was started by Nat Komes, general manager and son of proprietors John and Carrie Komes. He has a personal fondness for the holiday and even tied the knot on Oct. 31.
Komes’ inspiration for the Halloween collection came from an unlikely place: beer. Once a year, hundreds of thirsty fans spend hours lined up outside Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company, all for a taste of their cult release, Pliny the Younger.
He wanted his own version of that, saying, “I was trying to generate some of that excitement in the wine business.”
There might not be a line outside of Flora Springs, but there’s certainly a high demand among the winery’s followers. The Halloween wines often sell out well before Halloween each year and have become collectors items in the cellars of many wine club members.
It all started with the Ghost Winery series in 2010. For the labels, Komes partnered with artist Wes Freed, best known for his eerie illustrations on Drive-By Truckers album covers. One of those albums was a favorite of Komes’ brother.
“My brother passed away from cancer right when I was starting the Ghost Winery project,” said Komes. “That’s how I got a hold of Wes Freed, because that was his favorite record at the time. I reached out to him, started telling him about my brother, how he loved the art, and he came right back to me and said, ‘Let’s get going on this.’”
Over the years, the Ghost Winery series evolved into the Halloween collection with a Ghost Winery label at its centerpiece. Always a bottling of malbec —fittingly sourced right in front of Flora Springs’ ghost winery — the label is a modern interpretation of the 1978 label. It features a sketch of the stone ghost winery building, which was severely damaged in a fire in 1900, but has since been restored.
While the Ghost Winery Malbec stays the same every year, the labels of the others change. Komes develops his vision by scouring through children’s books, album covers, comic books and even skateboards, then contacts the respective artist and commissions them to create a one-of-a-kind wine label for that year’s release.
His favorite label of 2018 is the 2016 All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc, a throwback to old school Halloween imagery of a black cat and jack-o-lantern. The art was done by artist Emmenline Forrestal, a former wig maker who illustrated the children’s book “Gloppy,” a favorite of Komes’ daughter’s.
The true collectors item this year is the 2014 Drink In Peace Merlot. On it, a hand-etched, glow-in-the-dark skeleton holds a wine bottle across its chest. It even comes packaged in a coffin box.
And then there’s the 2013 Black Moon Cabernet Sauvignon. Available only in magnums, it’s already sold out and therefore as rare as an actual black moon (defined as an additional new moon that appears in a month or in a season, or the absence of a full moon or of a new moon in a month).
Skateboard artist Dennis McNett’s illustration depicts the phases of the moon surrounded by bats, which Komes said are regulars in the steeple of the ghost winery. The art is etched and hand painted on the bottle.
The new ghost tour
Those who want to taste the Halloween wines can reserve a tasting at The Room, Flora Springs’ St. Helena tasting room, but this year, the winery is taking their celebrations to a new level of creep with a ghost tour. Flora Springs has teamed up with Napa City Ghosts & Legends to lead a paranormal tour of the ghost winery and estate on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 10:30 a.m.
Komes said he was always curious if the ghost winery was haunted and that Napa City Ghosts have since identified three spirits during their recent visits. There’s Matthew, who supposedly died in a horse-related accident, a flapper who loves to party, and another man who gave off a particularly unsettling vibe.
Let’s hope he’s not in the mood for socializing that day.
For more information on Flora Springs’ Halloween tastings and ghost tour, visit www.florasprings.com/events.
Please join us in wishing a very Happy Birthday to John Komes, our patriarch and President & Proprietor of Flora Springs Winery!
It was in 1977 that John’s father and mother, Jerry and Flora Komes, retired to the Napa Valley and purchased a home that included an abandoned stone winery and vineyards. The potential of the property piqued John’s interest and fueled a dream of owning his own winery in Napa Valley someday. In 1978 he took the leap and established Flora Springs with his parents, his sister, Julie Garvey, and his brother-in-law, Pat Garvey.
While John is quick to share the credit, it is under his watch that Flora Springs has become one of the most respected and beloved family-owned wineries in Napa Valley, producing a portfolio of wines that consistently garner critical acclaim.
Note: The following article was originally published in the Wine Spectator on September 27, 2018 and can be found here.
Paranormal Activity at ‘Ghost Winery’
“…But if you missed the chance to commune with Napa’s dead last weekend at the St. Helena Cemetery, fear not: There are plenty more spectral vintners doomed to roam the terroir for all time (it’s been said some Napa winemakers even sold their souls), and not a few so-called “ghost wineries” they’re thought to haunt. The old Rennie Brothers Winery, completed in 1900, is one—the once-thriving wine factory sat derelict through Prohibition before its rebirth as Flora Spring Estate. On Oct. 28, the winery is bringing in local paranormal investigators/Napa history fiends Ellen MacFarlane and Devin Sisk, who most recently appeared together on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, to lead a haunted tour and wine lunch in the old stone cellars and caves. “As one of the few remaining Napa Valley ‘ghost wineries,’ we are constantly reminded that there are phantoms and spirits who walked here before us,” noted general manager Nat Komes to Unfiltered.
As in past years, Flora Springs is also releasing a set of Halloween-themed wines…with limited-edition label art from painters and illustrators: All Hallow’s Eve Cabernet Franc, Ghost Winery Malbec, Black Moon Cabernet Sauvignon and Drink in Peace Merlot (glow-in-the-dark label; comes in coffin-shaped gift box) are a few representative treats.”
It was a gorgeous, sunny day at AT&T Park. Guests enjoyed the weather and stunning city and bay views from the McCovey Cove Portwalk and Triples Alley where we hosted a rousing pre-game party – complete with a posh buffet of ballpark favorites and plenty of Flora Springs wine, including our highly-acclaimed 2015 Trilogy.
A big thank you to everyone who joined us – you made it a grand-slam day!
Interested in attending our next game? Be sure to join our mailing list and you’ll receive invitations to all of our events, as well as priority notice of exclusive offers and access to wines made in limited quantities or available only at the winery.
by The Nittany EpicureanHappy #SauvignonBlancDay! In addition to being a day celebrated by Star Wars fanatics, today is #SauvignonBlancDay – a global celebration of the sauvignon blanc grape. Wine lovers and winemakers come together today across the world to celebrate this grape that makes outstanding white wines in regions across the globe. We’ll celebrate the day by enjoying this sauvignon blanc from Flora Springs:
2016 Sauvignon Blanc produced & bottled by Flora Springs (St. Helena, California).
This wine is 100% sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for seven months in a combination of vessels – stainless steel tanks, large wooden oval casks, concrete tanks, small oak barrels and stainless steel drums. It comes in at 14 % ABV.
The wine showed a pale straw color. Lemon curd, peach, grapefruit, apple and whiffs of orange blossom all arrived on the nose. Apple, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, slate and peach followed on a palate redolent with nuanced citrus notes. The wine exhibited great acidity and minerality, along with good structure and length. This wine would be a great aperitif on a warm day and would pair classically with freshly shucked oysters or poached shrimp.
This year Flora Springs, in conjunction with Arts Council Napa Valley, celebrates the 8th annual Arts in April event at The Room. Contemporary artists have been busy all month long with demonstrations, installations, and musical performances that showcase the creative genius of artists at work paired with wine flights featuring the winery’s artist series labels. We invite you to join in on the fun for the final weekend of this series.
This Saturday, April 28th will feature the awe-inspiring Dominic Fontana of tapedmetalcanvas.com. Tape and metal artist Dominic uses various methods and materials to carve, weave, and layer colorful metallic tape. He often transforms each piece into a balanced, symmetrical, and often abstract piece of artwork. Dominic has also had his work featured throughout the month at The Room and you can have some fun with his pieces and the flash on your iPhone.
Also, featured will be the sounds of Lauren Hulbert is a folk-rock singer-songwriter. She has a sultry, warm voice and a wide variety of raw and authentic songs. For more information about this event click here.
Below are a few snapshots of other artists that have been featured earlier this month for Arts in April.Brett Crawford of startvault.com is a painter, metal sculptor, printmaker, illustrator and street artist are a few of the titles California native Brett Crawford holds. His work can be found in galleries and on walls all over Los Angeles. His preferred medium for large works is spray paint, but he is versatile and not limited to one material.Amandalynn is a muralist inspired by the female form and spirit, Amandalynn depicts strong, seductive women and illustrates their strength through line work and decorative patterning.Katie Colver is a singer-songwriter and guitar player. Her voice is earthy and powerful, and her music is most influenced by folk and rock music of the 70s.
Matriarch Flora Komes was born in Hawaii and Flora Springs has always had a natural affinity for all things Hawaiian. Yesterday, Flora Springs hosted the Preferred Palates Wine Club Pick Up party on a warm sunny afternoon at The Estate with a traditional luau theme. Guests got the chance to make their own leis while enjoying the sounds of the islands with the “chuck-a-chuck” acoustics and whispery nylon strings of the traditional luau-style ukulele music.Tastings of the current Wild Boar barrel sample, as well as Wild Boar library vintages were enjoyed with the festive pairing of a whole roast pig.Learn more about our Wine Clubs and the benefits of each.
Flora Springs will celebrate National Library Week by pouring select library wines at both The Estate and The Room next week, April 8-15. Featured wines will include rare, cellared vintages of Flora Springs’ flagship red wine blend, Trilogy. Library wines will also be available.
Nat Komes, third-generation family member and Flora Springs General Manager, has a particular affinity for libraries, as his mother worked as a librarian when he was growing up. He said he developed a great love of reading which he shares with his own children. In fact, while spending time at the library reading to them, Komes said he has found inspiration for several of his wine projects.
“We’re excited to celebrate National Library Week by opening our wine library throughout the week,” said Komes. “Library wines are older, unique, and rare wines that have been purposefully stored to age. Just as libraries transform minds, the aging process transforms wine, often in unexpected and delightful ways.”
Flora Springs’ limited-time “Libraries Transform” tasting experience will be held at both The Room (677 South St. Helena Highway, St. Helena) and The Estate (1978 West Zinfandel Lane, St. Helena), open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Reservations are required to visit The Estate. Additional tasting fees for the library wines may apply. For more information visit florasprings.com or call (866) 967-8032 or 967-6723.
Anne Komes of Flora Springs Family defines Wine Country Casual. After all of the excitement around Wine Country the film we thought we would ask our in house fashion expert some advice to plan outfits for Napa Valley visits.
It’s no secret that the Flora Spring’s Annual Trilogy Release Party is considered one of the most anticipated Napa Valley wine festivals of the year. Happening each year on the first weekend of February, our guests can expect to partake in first-class entertainment, high-end food and excellent wines all while basking in the beautiful vistas from our family’s Napa Valley Estate.
February weather, however, can be spotty at best, and that is why we have decided to share our wine country fashion recommendations to help you to prepare for the day’s fête.
What to wear in Napa? While most people know what the typical attire expectations are for Cocktail, Black Tie and Business Casual dress codes, sometimes we hear more confusion around what we commonly ask for in Napa Valley: Wine Country Casual.
We recently met with the stylish Anne Komes for her thoughts on what Wine Country Casual means to her and what to wear to a winery—particularly the Trilogy party.
Living in Napa Valley, what is your personal definition of Wine Country Casual? “To me, Wine Country Casual is anything appropriate for a vineyard tour or outdoor dining. It’s easy to dress up Wine Country Casual with a cute boot or accessories like a pretty scarf or hat.”
What is your favorite accessory to bring to the Trilogy party? “For the Trilogy party, I like to wear comfortable shoes because of the dancing! I prefer boots but I know my husband Nat likes to dance so I wear comfortable shoes and jeans.”
What is one thing you never leave home without? “My favorite accessory is my husband.”
What should you be prepared for at the Trilogy party? “I am preparing for a Trilogy party full of fun, great conversation and meeting new friends.”
What is your perfect Trilogy outfit? “I like to wear a hat because it is good, rain or shine! The party happens in February so comfortable but warm clothes because your body needs to move and you don’t want to be restricted with layers!”
For the men out there, what advice would you give them with regards to Trilogy party attire? “Men should feel comfortable to wear whatever makes them comfortable. To some, it may be a t-shirt and for others, it could be a suit. The only rules for a party should be proper behavior, otherwise, relax, it’s a party!”
And when visiting home in France? “In my opinion, the same rules apply to wine country in France as wine country in Napa. Understated elegance.”
Check out the full Trilogy Release Party experience: