Hair-raising occurrences suspected to be the work of mischievous ghosts
There are many stories to tell about the possible spirits who still live in the Manor House of Winery at La Grange. Both customers and staff have reported hair-raising experiences like doors slamming shut on their own and cold winds that come from nowhere. Operations Director Ross Forry tells the stories well, although he does claim to be skeptical.
On the mantel behind the tasting room counter sits a glass of wine as a sort of offering to the spirits. Forry says the internet becomes disabled if the glass is not there; although they refill it daily, the wine in the glass seems to disappear more quickly than you’d expect it to from simple evaporation.
And then there is the story of the Christmas tree in the upstairs parlor room. Forry says no matter what kind of tree stand they use, they cannot keep a tree standing in the window in that particular room; when a tree is put up there, it is always found lying on the ground the next morning. There is a possible ghostly explanation; the Manor House was used as a hospital during the Civil War. There is a tale of a soldier that was hiding in the woods outside the house, and although wounded, he was afraid that if he sought treatment at the hospital, he would be shipped off to a prison camp.
One of the children living in the home at the time found the soldier and brought food and supplies to him in the woods. The girl would light a candle in her window to signal to the soldier that it was safe for him to meet with her. That window is rumored to be the one where the Christmas tree will not stand to this day. Perhaps the girl is still making sure the window is clear for her to communicate with her wounded friend.
Forry says that, if he believed in the ghostly tales, there is one particular space in the Manor House he would suspect to actually be haunted. The bottom level of the Manor House was originally a cellar but is now a beautiful seating area for customers, complete with exposed beams and stone walls. This is the only place Forry has actually witnessed someone being terrified. He was at the winery with a father-and-two-son paranormal team. While Forry and one of the sons sat outside relaxing and chatting about the history of the property, the other son ventured to the basement alone. About 15 to 20 minutes later, Forry saw a figure with a flashlight—the son who went off alone—sprinting through the yard after a frightening experience.
The son was in the cellar when he heard voices. Assuming it was one of his group, he called out but received no response. He then heard wine glasses clinking together, and the door slammed shut at the top of the stairs. That’s when he tore out of the house! Forry says the sound of the wine glasses may be the detail that could possibly lead him to believe the story, because at the time all the wine glasses were stored in such a way that they were unable to clink together.
Although the thought of ghostly spirits can be terrifying to some, Forry says that any ghost hunters or paranormal investigators that have visited have described the spirits here as merely mischievous. Most likely, the wine drinker is Benoni Harrison; he, along with his wife Catherine, was one of the longest running owners of the Manor House and lived there during and after the Civil War until his death in 1869. The girl who took care of the soldier was rumored to be Benoni’s niece.
The Winery at La Grange is located at 4970 Antioch Road in Haymarket. The next time you visit, raise your glass of delicious wine to Benoni and the kind girl in the window.