Ghost Winery

While the term “ghost winery” conjures images of phantoms and rattling chains, the only spirits referenced here are the wines made long ago. The term is used to describe a winery that was built between 1860 and 1900 and abandoned in the early 20th century as the wine industry was crippled by the vine pest phylloxera, followed by the one-two punch of Prohibition and the Great Depression. Before Prohibition, there were more than 700 wineries in California. Following its repeal 14 years later, only 40 wineries remained. The few that were able to stay in business did so by selling sacramental wine and grapes for home winemaking, or outright bootlegging.  Many of the abandoned buildings remained vacant for decades, falling into ruin. As Napa’s wine industry stirred again mid-century, some of these ghost wineries were resurrected. Some are now thriving wineries that welcome visitors; others are private homes. Today, approximately 65 of California’s “ghost wineries” have been restored.  You can find several in the Oakville AVA at Far Niente, Napa Wine Company, Vine Cliff and Oakville Ranch Winery.

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