The Ghost Winery Legacy
‘Ghost Winery’ is a term used to describe a winery that was built between 1860 and 1900 and fell into disrepair in the early 20th century due to the triple threat of the vine disease phylloxera, the Great Depression, and of course, Prohibition. Before 1919, when Prohibition began, there were an estimated 713 winery businesses in California. Following its repeal 14 years later, only 40 wineries were left. This resulted in a wave of abandoned wineries throughout the next several decades. Many wineries of the time disappeared forever; others were left in ruins.
Two Ghost Wineries
When Jerry and Flora Komes purchased the Napa Valley property that became Flora Springs’ home, the acquisition included not one, but two Ghost Wineries. One was the Rennie Brothers winery, established in 1900 by James and William Rennie, brothers who immigrated to California from Scotland. The property changed hands three times following the Rennie Brothers, but when Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920, no wine was made. The old stone winery fell into disrepair during this period, its fate sealed as one of Napa Valley’s famed ‘Ghost’ wineries.
The second Ghost Winery, located just south of Rennie Brothers, was the Charles Brockhoff winery, built in 1885. Brockhoff’s sons, Charles and Emil, made wine at this location for over twenty years until Prohibition forced them out of business as well. The Brockhoff winery, along with the Rennie Brothers winery, remained abandoned until the 1930s when Louis M. Martini arrived in Napa Valley and purchased both properties. Martini lived on the combined property with his family until his death in 1974, using the old wineries primarily for storage.
It was 1977, three years after Martini’s death, when the old wineries, along with 60 acres of vineyard, were purchased by Jerry and Flora Komes. The couple, particularly Flora, was drawn to the abandoned site despite the dilapidated state of the winery buildings. Over the next decade John Komes, Jerry and Flora’s son, completely renovated both wineries, reverting Rennie Brothers to a working cellar once again and converting the Charles Brockhoff winery to a handsome home. John and his wife Carrie live in this home to this day.
Every year we bottle a small amount of estate-grown Malbec from the vines in front of the old Brockhoff winery in honor of Flora Springs illustrious history. Featuring a hand-drawn etching of the historic stone cellar, the Ghost Winery Malbec evokes early Flora Springs labels in its look and typeface. Learn more about this limited-production wine.