As one of Napa Valley’s few remaining Ghost Wineries we’ve always been fascinated by the history of the 19th century stone winery on our estate property.
In 2018 we invited Napa history fiend Ellen MacFarlane and Paranormal Investigator Devin Sisk, both of Napa City Ghosts & Legends, to take us on an interactive tour to see what we could find to supplement the historical information we’ve already uncovered. What we learned confirmed what we’d suspected for many years: there’s more than meets the eye here at Flora Springs, life forces (perhaps from our ever flowing springs?) and spirits who can’t quite tear themselves away from a place they once inhabited.
We invite you to join us for our next Historical Ghost Winery Tour, led by Napa City Ghosts & Legends and our team of hospitality specialists. Who knows what or who you’ll meet? The Scottish barrel-maker with a taste for whiskey? The 1920s flapper who didn’t want to leave the party?
Wine Club: $60
Limited tickets available, contact us at (800) 913-1118 or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.
About Napa City Ghosts & Legends Ellen MacFarlane is a native Napan who has lived in Napa for over 30 years. She is the proud mother of three boys, likes writing, ghosts and travel. She grew up in Napa and knew by the age of 11 she wanted to work with ghosts.
Devin Sisk is a Paranormal Investigator and creator of the Benicia Ghost Walk. He has been in the paranormal field for 11+ years, and has logged over 650 cases. He has been featured on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Eye on the Bay and More.
Recently Ellen & Devin worked on the Travel Channel’s #1 Show, Ghost Adventures.
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 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.
It’s no secret that Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and it’s that time of year again when we conjure up the ghosts of spirits past. October 1 – October 31, join us at The Room for a frightful good time.
Enjoy an exclusive tasting of our seasonal, winery-only Halloween wines that will send shivers down your spine, including our limited-production 2016 Ghost Winery Malbec.
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.”
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.
It’s no secret that Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and it’s that time of year again when we conjure up the ghosts of spirits past. September 1 – October 31, join us at The Room for a frightful good time.
Enjoy an exclusive tasting of our seasonal, winery-only Halloween wines that will send shivers down your spine, including our limited-production 2015 Ghost Winery Malbec.
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.