Ghoulish Halloween at V Marketplace in Yountville, California
ghosts photos
Halloween 2007

Discontinued! Will NOT Be Held Again in 2008!

VMarketPlace continues to host an annual Father's Day Invitational Auto Show in June



October 2007

Yountville, Calif.--V Marketplace (formerly Vintage 1870) decks out in Halloween decor to delight travelers to this former winery where some still feel the spirit of founder Gottlieb Groezinger.

Nothing  quite says Halloween like a ghost. And while there are many known to haunt the wine caves and cellars of Napa County, Yountville has its own special brand of ghostly, ghoulish fun each Halloween at the V Marketplace.

This former 1870 circa property built and founded by √©migr√© Gottlieb (god dear, in German) Groezinger is known as one of Napa Valley's ghost wineries. Locals are careful to place the term "ghost winery" inside quotation marks, referring to a category of wineries that were devastated by a bug infestation that killed plants at the turn of the 20th century. The phylloxera louse brought tears and grief to many during a dark era in  American history for vintners. After pests virtually wiped out the California wine industry, prohibition that lasted over 10 years from 1920 pretty well assured you wouldn't see a profit unless you were involved in illegal liquor trade that occurred along the coast during this dry time. While America also encountered a depression, Napa Valley was only able to pull itself up by its bootstraps and rebound decades later by the determination of skillful craftsmen who knew the climate was ideal for a wine that could win awards around the globe. 

Though long past, Gottlieb "dear god" must have been listening when a wrecking ball was slated for demolition of the Groezinger winery estate. Local entrepreneurs with plenty of soul and some capital were able to swing a deal to save the 23-acre Groezinger Estate during the 1950's, and eventually reopened it as Vintage 1870 shopping complex in 1967. Is it just possible that more than a few of the high octane spirits reside in this beautiful property listed on the National Register of Historic Places?

Some say yes.  We interviewed one reporter (prefers not to state her name), who said there are ghostly spirits in the place.  "I've been on many press trips and have an uncanny ability without having researched a place to sense spirits of early inhabitants. Sometimes a person may not have died there, but they haunt an establishment, house, bar, restaurant, or even a factory," said Diane.  "There definitely are several spirits around this former winery."

There's no solid evidence that ghosts exist at the 137-year old Groezinger building.  But this much is certain, spirits do abound at V Marketplace, and there's absolutely a haunting mood around October as decorations such as ghoulish ghost, gravestone and crypt are scattered among the grass and flowers. If Gottlieb  were alive, would he roll in his grave over the changes to his winery? It's hard to say, but most believe he'd be delighted.  Always an entrepreneur and hotelier, the Wurtmeberg (yes, Kingdom of Wurtemberg) born entrepreneur learned many useful trades within the span of a life. His primary talents and interests were in hospitality and wine-making.  Truly ahead of his time, he truly symbolized the theme of Napa Valley and Yountville today. His winery that once output over 160,000 gallons, now features an upscale shopping venue with surrounding boutique hotels.

Groezinger lived in Switzerland, New York City, sailed to  Panama, then San Francisco, working in hospitality, mostly as a waiter throughout those traveling years. In California's Yuba County he opened a general miners' store till 1854. He then traveled back to Europe to familiar environs for a year---visiting Switzerland, Germany and France. Perhaps he was hatching a plan. When he got back to San Francisco, he brought with him a couple thousand grape cuttings.  In 1858 he purchased grapes and began manufacturing wine. Expanding his operations and moving to better grape-growing climate, he purchased land 60 miles northeast of San Francisco at Yountville in 1871. It didn't take long to grow not only a winery business, but a family. Within a year of moving to Yountville, Groezinger was married and began producing not only fine wines, but a crop of children, as well.

Calling his business Groezinger Winery, the facility was one of the largest operations during its day, occupying well over half of the  23-acre estate. Like early ranchos of this era, it was a self-contained operation, supplying steam power a creamery, barns, a winery, brandy distillery and estate mansion.

Today the property is reincarnated as a shopping plaza surrounded by gardens and a boutique hotel. It includes shops, restaurants and art galleries. Recently re-named V Marketplace, a change from Vintage 1870, special events are held throughout the year. But one of the most beloved seasons is Autumn when the place is decked out with scary themes.  Halloween displays feature giant ghosts, menacing ghouls and an amazing, ghoulish display brought back from the dead by Sue Payne of ART OF ILLUSION. Ghostly apparitions loom over Highway 29 by V Marketplace. The historic retail complex where you may see a ghost, get a chill up your spine or sip a fine wine is open daily from 10:00am – 5:30pm. V Marketplace is located on the Vintage Estate at 6525 Washington Street in Yountville – Napa Valley. Call: (707) 944-2451.