My Virginia Wine Ghost Story

By. Neil Williamson

To the best of my knowledge, this story is true.  Any errors are the authors alone and represent the lapse of memory.

About ten years ago I was privileged to work for Prince Michel Vineyards in Leon.  Several years prior to my arrival on the management team, the winery had acquired another vineyard known as Rapidan River.  The Rapidan River vineyard property was situated, as one might guess, along the Rapidan River.  This is an area that was rather active during the Civil War.  Finding musket balls was pretty commonplace around the vineyard but every now and again we would uncover a cannon ball which was most exciting.

By means of background my knowledge of ghosts is exceedingly limited.  I consider myself to be a Scooby Doo kind of skeptic — there’s always someone being the curtain pulling the ropes — “and he would of gotten away with it too if not for those meddling kids”

Anyway, I digress back to the story, on the Rapidan River Vineyard were two older houses.  One the winery had converted to house some of our temporary vineyard workers during harvest.   The other house served as the winemaker’s home where he lived with his wife and two small children.

In the early part of the 1999 harvest, the vineyard workers were very rattled.  It seemed the old rotary phone that we kept in the house had moved across the room and been answered twice without any one getting out of bed.  There were also stories of other things moving about the living room without any logical means of motion.  The stories were more than enough to get me to as the winemaker to take a look around the workers house.

He reported back that everything looked OK a little disheveled but OK.  He also mentioned a large volume of Bud Light cans in the kitchen.  He and I wrote off this little apparition as nothing more than an example of barley induced group thinking.

A few weeks later, the winemaker’s wife was preparing dinner when her then four-year old boy came running into the house asking if it was OK to play with the “new” boy.  As the vineyard was miles away from other residences, she pressed what new boy.  The young man replied the boy in the front yard wearing a grey cap and with the gray coat and silver buttons.  He wanted to play a rolling hoop game with him.Confederate coat

More than a little intrigued the wife moved to the front door and looked along the old worn brick path that twisted along the front of the house and around the back.  She saw nothing.

But when she looked in the saucer sized eyes of her four-year old she knew he was telling the truth.  He again described a light gray overcoat that was too big for the boy and bright silver buttons.

The winemaker and his family lived in the house another five years and while he paid special attention to every odd shake rattle and roll in the old house but never again did the boy make an appearance.

More than ten years later, I can still see the truth in the eyes of the winemaker as he related the story.  I know I believe!  Do you?


Neil Williamson, known throughout the Virginia Wine Industry as The Grumpy Marketing Guy”, serves as Chairman of the Virginia Wine Club Tasting Panel and Editor of The Virginia Wine Journal.  He can be reached at

About virginiawineclub

Chairman Virginia Wine Club Tasting Panel Editor, Virginia Wine Journal
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One Response to My Virginia Wine Ghost Story

  1. Lydia says:

    This is an absolutely true story–I know because I’m the winemaker’s wife! I too was a card carrying member of the Scooby Doo Skeptic Club until living on the Rapidan River Winery grounds. The homes were built over the foundation of a house which was used as a hospital during the Civil War. There were several skirmishes in that area, and the front yard even has cannon pits still visible today.

    The description of the young soldier by my son was too accurate to be made up by a child so young and unaware of what a soldier or uniform was. As a famiily we were never scared or bothered by the spirits, but the vineyard crew was most definately harrassed. One night the entire group of grown, strong men came banging on our front door yelling, “Spirits, spirits!” Although my husband makes great wine for Prince MIchel and Rapidan River, I don’t think they were coming over asking for a drink! They never would stay on the property after that night. Where they said they saw the spirits was in a kitchen and stairway which had exposed beams from the original house used as a hospital.

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