Thursday, June 20, 2019

Haunted Beringer Winery

Fog over Beringer vineyards.

In Napa Valley, a running joke is if a winery is known to be haunted--it then has “more than one kind of spirit to offer.”

There is so much paranormal activity at the Beringer vineyard located at the northern edge of St. Helena that the staff keeps a running log of the encounters.
Beringer vines.

Beringer has a history of firsts. It was one of the first wineries in Napa, founded in 1876. It was the first to offer tours to the public in 1934—which began Napa Valley’s lucrative tourist trade. And it was the first winery to win recognition for both its white and red wines in the 1980s and 90s.

It was also one of the first wineries to use cellars and caves to store and age its wines.

It is California’s oldest continually operating winery. The wine was made even during Prohibition—Beringer sold its bottles to the church for religious purposes.

Beringer brothers.
Two brothers, Jacob and Frederick Beringer, emigrated from Germany. They purchased 215 acres and established a genuinely stunning vineyard that easily competes with the beauty of the French Bordeaux countryside.

Jacob made the wines and managed the winery, and Frederick acted as the financier and promoted the wine.

The late Kathleen Kernberger, a local Napa historian shares the vineyard’s first ghost story—told to her by her aunt.

Jacob brought in Chinese laborers in 1877, to hand-dig tunnels in the side of Spring Mountain—so the wine could be stored in a cool place.

Beringer Winery cave
Rumors abounded for years that some of these workers were killed when cave-ins buried them. Numerous reports were given that people heard the “wails and moans” of these unfortunate workers on windy nights.

This haunting, however, was debunked years later when the winery had liquid cement sprayed on the tunnel walls. This effectively filled the cracks—so no more moans were heard.

There are also not any records that indicate laborers died in this tunnel.

But to this day, employees at the vineyard claim they hear phantom whispers that are believed to be the voices of the Chinese laborers in this cave as well as feeling freezing, isolated cold spots.

Photographs taken have captured strange lights—which is curious for this tunnel is normally kept in soft light.

Fog over Rhine House.
The most active spot at the winery is the Rhine House that Frederick Beringer built.

The home is the vineyard’s showplace. It is a seventeen bedroom Victorian mansion.

Incidents include, shoved furniture, flying objects, phantom footsteps heard descending the stairs, missing items that turn up later in another part of the home, unexplained noises, and doors opening and shutting on their own.

And a full-bodied apparition is seen—which is believed to be Frederick who died in 1901.

One evening as two employees cleaned the first floor, they heard a loud crash coming from upstairs. They each took a separate staircase, but no one passed them.

Tasting Room
They entered the Founder’s Tasting Room—which was Frederick’s bedroom. They found a large silver tray had been flung across the room. There was also broken stemware covering the floor.

It seems Frederick does not like his private quarters being used as a public space.

It is not unusual for employees to be so frightened they just quit. Many have seen Frederick’s spirit in the hallway upstairs—he is also spotted walking through walls.

Rhine House
The Rhine House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Jacob’s great, great grandson, Mark Beringer is the wineries Chief Winemaker today.

No comments: