Halloween is more than just a day at Flora Springs…it’s an entire season! After all, with one of the few remaining Napa Valley Ghost Wineries on our property, we’re reminded year-round that there are phantoms and spirits who walked here before us. So we celebrate in a big way, dreaming up fun costumes, planning spooky tastings and events, such as our Ghost Winery Tour, and looking for new ways to decorate The Room, The Estate and our own homes. For General Manager Nat Komes and his wife Anne there’s another reason to celebrate: their wedding anniversary falls on October 31st!
Napa Valley Halloween
Of course in Napa Valley the wine you serve on Halloween is nearly, if not just, as important as the candy bowl! It’s the adult version of the “treat,” and that’s why we put so much effort into producing special Halloween-themed wines for our Wine Club and Mailing List Members. These are not your average Halloween wines, made to drink and forget. We set the bar high in terms of quality, using some of the best fruit from our estate property, including Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Because these vineyard blocks are small, they lend themselves perfectly to these limited-edition wines.
Our Halloween labels are also a labor of love. Each year Nat Komes and his team let the creative juices flow as they seek inspiration from album cover art, comic books, children’s book illustrators and other artists to create brand new one-of-a-kind labels and packages. Skeletons, witches, pumpkins and black cats have all found their way onto these labels, in whimsical designs meant to treat, not trick. The only exception is our Ghost Winery Malbec, which always features a hand-drawn etching of our historic stone cellar on a label reminiscent of Flora Springs’ earliest releases.
We’d love to hear about your Halloween traditions and party ideas. If you have a story or tradition to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our We LOVE Halloween Pinterest board where we have collected all types of creative entertaining tips and ideas for a spooky wine tasting party.
Twenty years ago Nat and Anne Komes tied the knot on Halloween in a unique and fun celebration – it really is Nat’s favorite holiday! This was after a beautiful, traditional ceremony in Anne’s hometown in France. Join us in wishing them a very Happy Anniversary!
Note: The following article was originally written by Chris Macias and published in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 30, 2018 and can be found here.
The Napa Ghost Wineries You Can Visit
Trek around Wine Country, near its luxury hotels and fine-dining destinations, and you’ll find the remnants of wineries that date back to a time when Napa wasn’t so flush. These are vestiges of the Dark Ages for California wine. They’re known as ghost wineries, not because they’re haunted (though that’s up for debate in some cases), but because they serve as an important link between Napa’s early years as a wine region and the bustling destination it is now.
Napa Valley had a thriving wine industry in the 19th century, with more than 140 operating wineries opened by the final decade. But starting in the late 1880s, the region was hit with a triple blow that left the local wine industry reeling for decades. First, an outbreak of the lethal grapevine virus phylloxera crippled wine production for 20 years. Then the Great Depression arrived, which dovetailed with Prohibition from 1920 to 1933.
This half-century of setbacks left many California wineries in ruins. Although a few were able to stay in business by selling sacramental wine or grapes for home winemaking, the industry had withered to about three dozen by the time Prohibition was repealed. Many of the buildings remained vacant for decades, falling into ruin. Halloween notwithstanding, Napa’s ghost wineries are worth visiting any time of year. They’re scattered throughout the valley, offering a peek into a storied history and a spirit of perseverance that defines the area.
Here are a handful of the ghosts you can visit:
Flora Springs: This former home of the 1900 Rennie Brothers Winery in St. Helena, suffered a one-two punch at the turn of the 20th century. Not only were its vineyards hit by phylloxera, but a fire in its wine cellar decimated its production capabilities. After decades of inactivity, the property was purchased in the mid 1970s and renamed Flora Springs. The ghost winery has since been renovated and serves as a production facility, which visitors can see during tours of the Flora Springs estate. Flora Springs plays up its ghost winery heritage with Halloween releases including All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc and Ghost Winery Malbec…
Note: The following article was originally written by Catherine Bugue and published in the St. Helena Star on October 16, 2018 and can be found here.
Wine of the week: Flora Springs All Hallows’ Eve 2016 Cabernet Franc Napa Valley
It was dark. She was tense. He came at her with a knife.
And as she grabbed the knife away from him, she sighed irritably, and used the corkscrew end to open the wine bottle herself. She was in no mood for his theatrics.
It’s Halloween — it’s time for stories! Why not gather up friends and good wine on the 31st for a night’s respite from the weekly grind? Adding a wine like Flora Spring’s iconic All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc brings good fun to the mix. The 2016 Cabernet Franc label features a spooked black cat and carved pumpkin; the wine has enough rich dark fruits and spice complexity to stand up to the spookiest of ghost stories.
See also special etched bottles like the Drink in Peace Merlot, complete with coffin wine box.
Order by 5 pm October 23 for delivery by Halloween. Please call (800) 913-1118 with questions on shipping times. Shop now.
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.
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.”
Trick or Treat with a ghostly blend of wine with Flora Springs All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc, 2015 Ghost Winery Malbec, 2013 Harvest Witch Cabernet Sauvignon, and more.
These devilishly delicious wine picks will satisfy the most bloodthirsty vampire in your group, as well as the white wine-loving witch. Watch out for wicked cool labels created by Jeremy Fish of San Francisco and official Artist in Residence at Coit Tower. His artwork is mainly about storytelling and communication, told through a library of characters and symbols with an emphasis on finding a balance with the imagery somewhere between all things cute and creepy.
These spooky labels complement the fact that Flora Spring’s has been designated as one of the original “ghost wineries” in Napa Valley. All the wineries built between 1860 and 1900 were abandoned in the early 20th century due to vine disease, the Great Depression, and Prohibition.
These limited production wines sell out fast, but you can keep them in mind for the next dark, dark night, I highly recommend the following Spooky AND delicious selection.
2015 Flora Springs “Ghost Winery” Malbec $55
“Ghost Winery” is the third in the Flora Springs Halloween Trilogy wine and can be purchased as a 6 pack for your spooky celebration.
2013 Harvest Witch Cabernet Sauvignon $50
For the 2013 Harvest Witch, Flora Springs winemaker conjured up a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from two distinct Napa Valley regions: Rutherford and Pope Valley. The Rutherford component, from the Komes Ranch, brings rich, juicy black and blue fruit and smooth tannins to the blend, while the Pope Valley element features bolder tannins and wild blackberry and spice notes. The wine was aged in a combination of new and seasoned barrels, adding notes of both vanilla and mocha along with subtle hints of fresh-baked bread. With bold fruit, excellent structure and seductive tannins, this is a wicked good wine that will make you cackle like a witch and howl at the moon.
2014 Drink in Peace Merlot Box Set $115
New this year, Flora Springs pays tribute to traditional Day of the Dead artwork with Drink in Peace Merlot – packaged with the wineries infamous Coffin Box. This darkly saturated plum-colored Merlot from Rutherford offers a blackcurrant and raspberry-scented nose and a palate dominated by rich black cherry fruit, spicy oak, toasty vanilla and cedary smoke.
There’s nothing to fear for this year’s Halloween party, because at least if the ghouls, goblins, zombies, and witches are afoot, you can offer them some scary-good wine from Flora Springs.
About the Artist
Currently the official Artist in Residence at Coit Tower in San Francisco, Jeremy Fish has a degree in painting and a focus in screenprinting. His education and work experience has lead to a career as a fine artist and commercial illustrator. Finding a balance between exhibiting his work both across the US, and internationally in galleries and museums, he also maintains a presence designing skateboards, t-shirts, vinyl toys, album covers, periodical illustrations, murals, sneakers – and now, wine labels. His artwork is mainly about storytelling and communication, told through a library of characters and symbols with an emphasis on finding a balance with the imagery somewhere between all things cute and creepy. Jeremy has been based in San Francisco for the last 20 years. Learn more.
Note: The following article on this year’s Halloween Wines, written by St. Helena Star tasting panel writer Catherine Bugue, can also be found here.
It’s almost Halloween and you know what that means. Nancy should definitely run in the halls; it may not be such an excellent day for an exorcism, and perhaps a boy’s best friends should not be his mother (or his dead mother anyway). But Halloween also means…they’re heeere. Flora Springs’ spook-inspired wines are ready for our Halloween parties and dinners.
Square Jack, the wineries’ affectionate name for the ghoulish, teeth-baring pumpkin which greets all tasters to this 2014 Cabernet Franc, is just one of three special bottlings. General Manager Nat Komes discovered Square Jack’s illustrator, John Manders, while reading his children stories at the St. Helena Library.
These Halloween wines always spice up the wine glass with big flavors of concentrated fruit and toasty oak. Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep…at least not until the bottle is finished.
Flora Springs has the distinction of being home to one of Napa Valley’s original “ghost wineries” – wineries built between 1860 and 1900 but abandoned in the early 20th century due to vine disease, the Great Depression, and Prohibition. Today, some ghost wineries still exist as ruins, but others, such as Flora Springs, have been renovated and restored to their former glory. Each year we bottle small amounts of estate-grown wines in honor of this illustrious history.
It’s that time of year again when we conjure up the ghost of spirits past with three new limited-production Halloween wines.
2014 Ghost Winery Malbec
A tribute to the winery’s illustrious history, this 100% Rutherford Malbec offers spine-tingling flavors of black cherry, currant and ripe plum and hints of mocha, tobacco and vanilla. Only 460 cases produced. Learn more about this wine.