SONOMA, CAHISTORY The roots of the Bartholomew Winery go back to the 1830s, when a Hungarian immigrant named Count Agoston Haraszthy (r.), exiled from his native country, brought the first European grapes to be planted on California soil. The Count purchased the property in 1857 and dubbed it "Buena Vista Winery". Count Haraszthy proved to be a poor businessman however, and much of the crop he had planted died from disease and eventually he was forced to abandon the property for financial reasons in 1867. The colorful, but star-crossed Count lost his life in Central America some time later, being killed by a crocodile while exploring the country - looking for his next big investment.The land saw many owners come and go and for a colorful period of time in the 1920s it was a detention center for wayward women. These were women who essentially were prostitutes who frequented the infamous Barbary Coast section of California and were addicted to opium or pregnant. It was not until the early 1940s, that solid ownership took control in the person of Frank Bartholomew, a renowned journalist and president of United Press International. The land was returned to its winery roots and the Buena Vista label was restored. By 1947, the first casks of wine were ready to be presented to the public and a success story was born. Frank and his wife Antonia had by now fallen in love with the property and the wine-making craft. The sedate life-style appealed to them and they immersed themselves into the wine culture. In 1968 after a fruitful 20-year occupation of the property, they sold both the brand name and 15 acres of the land so their work could be continued. They kept a lion's share of the property for themselves however, and spent their remaining years developing the property, paying close attention to its history and eventually constructing a villa on-site (l.) that mirrored the one first inhabited by Count Haraszthy that was destroyed by fire in 1922. It was specified in their will that a foundation would be instituted to ensure the name of the product and the vineyard would remain tied together for all times. What we now know as the Bartholomew Winery (or simply "Bart Park" to locals) was established in 1994 by Jim Bundschu and his family, who had been making wine at their own vineyard, the Rhinefarm Estate for almost 150 years. Upon purchasing the land, they embraced the opportunity to continue the storied tradition Count Haraszthy and the Bartholomews laid before them. The winery building was completely renovated, the vineyards replanted and now grapes are organically grown with a goal of producing the finest hand-made and site-specific wines in all of North America. The winery grounds also are home to the Bartholomew Park Museum, which celebrates both the vineyards successful and sometimes quirky past. To that end there are prominent displays of the charismatic Count Haraszthy and a woman named Kate Johnson, a social matron who kept 200 Angora cats on the property. There are also picnic grounds (l.) and a hiking trail (r.) on-site where views of the vineyard and the surrounding Mayacamas Mountain range. The winery also plays host to choral groups and other forms of entertainment during selected dates and hosts a Sips and Spirits night yearly where a paranormal investigation is held along with palm and tarot card readings.THE HAUNTINGS OF THE BARTHOLOMEW WINERY The shell of what looks like a hospital ward (used during that time the State ran their detention center) is still visible on the second floor if you take an elevator located behind the tasting bar. As you enter the tasting room there is a large wooden door (l.) on the right which opens to a stairwell (r.). At the bottom of these stairs is a room once used as a morgue. http://kateyleigh.blogspot.com/ When the building was used as a detention center, many of the women - perhaps some out of the desperation of losing money and others to acquire drugs - tried to escape quite frequently. They were most times caught by troopers and brought back. Of these, there was one particular woman named Madeleine who was undeterred by this and executed a continuing series of escapes from the facility only to be returned time and time again. One one particular occasion, she was found missing again, but this time did not return. It was thought by all that Madeleine finally had accomplished her goal of springing herself from the place and had finally been successful. The incident was hailed by those incarcerated but forgotten as time passed. In the late 1980s, when extensive renovations to the building began, workers punching a hole in a wall in the basement made a grisly discovery. The skeleton of a woman was found inside the wall and speculation began that this might indeed be the remains of the intrepid Madeleine. This fact was eventually confirmed. The bones found were indeed those of the missing woman. Staff and visitors to the winery still feel the presence of Madeleine today. Footsteps are heard in the cellar along with a woman's voice. In one particularly unsettling discovery, an employee saw a set of wet footprints that seemed to lead in a circle inside the barrel room (pictured below). This would be impossible as the room was closed and the footprints were fairly fresh. There is also walking heard upstairs in the section that is completely closed to the public. It is assumed this is the wayward spirit of Madeleine, walking the halls of a place she spent many restless hours. Other bizarre events have taken place in the winery. A fire extinguisher once flew off a wall at great speed and doors have been known to lock on their own. Psychics visiting the property have claimed there are restless Native American spirits present who were there long before the land was developed in the 1800s. Audio recordings have produced the sounds of Indian flutes and drums in the background. The sounds of singing have been heard emanating from the cellar along with the sound of a piano playing. It is interesting to note that the room was used as a practice space for the women's choir that performed there on occasion. The spirit of Count Haraszthy has also made it presence known to staff and guests. A tall man in a long coat has been seen walking among the oak trees on the grounds. From pictures it appears to be the Count wandering around what was once his land.