A St. Helena winery dating back to 1880 is being brought back to life by Bryant Morris, the developer known in part for his unsuccessful attempt to redevelop Pope Valley’s Aetna Springs resort.
According to the St. Helena Star, the stone building that comprised the old Castner Winery, located on Napa Valley’s Highway 29 opposite Markham Vineyards, will be converted to a 20,000-gallon winery – called, simply, Ghost Winery – pending the approval of the Napa County Planning Commission.
At a recent public hearing, commissioners had reservations about the project, but were leaning toward approving it, provided Morris could work out several issues with neighbors.
Like Aetna Springs, the Castner Winery began to thrive in the 1880s after William Castner of Maine moved to Napa County, bought 51 acres of land and planted 35 acres of vineyards. When Prohibition put Castner Winery out of business, the winery caves were sealed and the property was subdivided and sold. The original stone winery building was converted into a house, and a swimming pool was added.
Morris bought the winery, now on a nine-acre parcel, along with an adjacent residential property. Last April, he got a lot line adjustment to bring the winery parcel to the required 10 acres. Morris plans to restore the stone building back to its original winery use, along with a small private tasting room. The winery could have up to 25 visitors a week and up to seven events a year, according to present zoning regulations.