The witching hour is almost here, and the wine, beer and food worlds are magicking up potions for Halloween to fill your goblets and cauldrons with treats, while the national mood for tricks remains at an all-time low. So be not haunted by fear of yet another 2020 holiday with no plans: The realm of Hallowines beckons with fun for all ages (21 and over).
Apothic Wines and actor Sarah Michelle Gellar are gathering drinkers 'round their screens for a classic (virtual) scary story session, "An Evening of Intrigue: Choose Your Apothic Journey," on Apothic's website. Gellar, who, of course, deftly handled many a ghoul as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, narrates the wine-inspired tale, an adventure filled with swirls and turns.
“While Halloween may look a little different this year, we want Apothic fans to experience a sense of mystery and excitement in a truly unique and intriguing way,” Molly Davis, vice president of marketing at Apothic, said in a statement provided to Unfiltered.
As drinkers watch the tale unfold, they are prompted to make fateful decisions that lead to wine recommendations from among the five different red wines Apothic makes. Gellar, who cemented '90s scream queen status with star turns in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2, was pleased to have the brand as a new partner-sidekick. “I’ve always been a fan of Apothic wine," Gellar said. "Creating this journey together has been so much fun—I’ve actually spooked myself at times. Like everyone else, I’ll be celebrating Halloween at home this year.”
Napa winery Flora Springs has been releasing spooktacular bottles since 2010, under the spell of general manager/cave-keeper Nat Komes. Halloween is his favorite holiday, having grown up at the family estate with its 120-year-old "ghost winery," which he recently invited local ghostbusters to investigate.
This year, Flora Springs is offering new vintages of its Ghost Winery Malbec and All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc, the latter with a just-unveiled art label by graphic designer Anthony Yankovic, as well as a Terrors of the Terroir three-pack. “The bottles come in three unique designs,” Komes explained via email, “each representing one of a vineyard manager’s worst nightmares: phylloxera, powdery mildew and red leaf.”
Though its ghost tours are off this year, Flora Springs will still visit you, in the form of Italian Halloween dinners for curbside pickup, made by Yountville chef Massimiliano Boldrini and paired with Flora Springs wines; 35 percent of dinner sales will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund to help victims of this year’s Glass fire.
Buffy isn't the only hero of the paranormal '90s having a wine revival this year: Beverage companies Besa mi Vino and Eliqs produced a trio of enchanting canned wines featuring the Disney cult classic Hocus Pocus, with each can bearing the visage of one of the Sanderson sister-witches from the 1993 movie (played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy), along with wined-up versions of famous lines from the movie (“I put a spell on you and now you’re wine”). The Hocus Pocus cans reportedly vanished quickly, but the companies also make Witch's Brew canned rosé and Sauvignon Blanc from Paso Robles grapes. Eliqs also has a hard seltzer called Craft Blood, and we don't know what it's made from.
But what if wine isn’t your beverage (BOOverage? Eh?) of choice? The brewers at Oregon's Wayfinder Beer have been making horror-themed suds since last year, inspired by "our epic love of all things sinister,” as brewmaster Kevin Davey put it. Wayfinder’s infernal Hell lager is available year-round, but this Halloween brings two new brews screeching in, Terrifica, an Italian-style pilsner, and Funeral Block, a dark bock. “We find it amusing from a brand perspective to have some creepy delights around the Halloween season,” Davey said.
And whether you go with wine or beer at your local haunt or house, try pairing with Scream Cheese from the cheese masters at The Cellars at Jasper Hill. Spoiler, maybe, but the morbid morsel is Jasper Hill’s soft-ripened Weybridge cheese, tinted orange with annatto, and not actually cream cheese. "This cheese allows Scholten Farm, our smallest-scale cheesemaking partner, to add a few extra batches and start holiday-level production a bit earlier, which is a nice boost for their farmstead operation," Zoe Brickley, head of marketing for Jasper Hill, told Unfiltered via email. "We also hope Scream Cheese is a bit of a gateway cheese for people who might otherwise be spooked by the world of artisan, natural-rind cheeses."
At least one vintner is luring in visitors thirsty for spirits with ghost tours. For several years, David Besgrove of Cowtown Winery and Grape Vine Springs has hosted nighttime stalks at both locations, the former in the Fort Worth Stockyards and the latter in Grapevine, Texas. “The reason I started to look into this is because we had many strange things happen inside Cowtown Winery,” Besgrove reported. “The building is over 100 years old …. My winemaker would arrive early in the morning and always have things happening to her"; sightings included a dark, ethereal figure that—we hear tell—floated to the ceiling and set off a motion detector.
While few of us among the living have "dressed up" in any sense in months, many have been getting acquainted with boxed wine. So Franzia created a monster for its minions: After years of spotting DIY attempts at boxed-wine costumes, the company is finally stitching and selling its own. The costumes are available in "chillable red" and "sunset blush," selling for $25 each. "Now our fans can drink Franzia, wear Franzia and be Franzia," Franzia marketing director Collin Cooney told Unfiltered via email. "Even if it’s just for Halloween."
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