What is the difference between a wine and a spirit? At the Winery at Marjim Manor, wine is what you taste and spirits are who you meet.
The History: Marjim Manor was built by Shubal Scudder Merrit in 1854 where he lived with his wife, Sophia, and their children, Phebe Sophia, Cordelia, and Lewis. Sadly, Sophia died in the house in 1864, and a year later Lewis also died in the house (according to legend he was accidentally shot by his own father). In 1895, the first director at the Buffalo Psych Center (today known as Hotel Henry), Dr. Charles A. Ring, moved into the house with his wife, Hannah. In 1907, Hannah also died in the house, leading Dr. Ring to remarry the shrewd businesswoman, Estelle Morse. Eventually, the beautiful home fell into a state of disrepair until the Sisters of St. Joseph bought the property and turned it into a camp for girls, a farm school for deaf boys, and a summer retreat for themselves. The Sisters remained on the property from 1933-1993. In 2004 it was bought by Margo Sue Bittner, was opened as a winery, and has been featured on SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and Most Terrifying Places in America.
The Haunting: The owners and staff at Marjim Manor are certainly not hiding the fact that their winery is haunted. According to claims, the spirits of Schubal, Sophia, and Lewis Merrit, Charles and Hannah Ring, Estelle Morse, and the Sisters of St. Joseph’s dog, Duke, all haunt the winery. Claims of lights turning on and off, wine bottles falling off shelves, and even full-bodied apparitions of Hannah standing behind the employees and Estelle greeting guests at the door have been seen. There’s also claims that there is a spooky time at the winery. If you visit, try to schedule your arrival around 3pm on Thursdays. According to the legend of Marjim Manor, every death has been connected to Thursdays and 3pm, and that is when activity is said to be most active. Of course, sources say that many of these legends come from an article Estelle wrote to try to cover up the fact that she convinced her husband to change his will so she would inherit the house in the case of his death. But I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, so I’ll take the 3pm superstitions.
It is evident that Margo takes pride in not only her beautiful winery but also the ghostly history surrounding the place. Margo and her husband, Jim, have worked diligently to try to restore the manor to its historical glory and that just adds to the antique, otherworldly feel when you enter the manor. There are plenty of opportunities for paranormal enthusiasts to acquaint themselves with Marjim Manor with murder mystery dinners, ghost hunts, and psychic workshops happening all year long. Even Jason and Grant from Ghost Hunters witnessed a full-bodied apparition three times during their investigation of the winery. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll spot Hannah or Estelle in the tasting room. If nothing else, be sure to ask Margo about the Legend of Appleton Hall to get into the spooky mood!
The Winery at Marjim Manor is nestled on the Niagara Wine Trail right on the shores of Lake Ontario. Marjim Manor doesn’t forget its ghost stories when it comes to their wines–almost all of their wines are named after some aspect of the ghost story. Some of my favorites include Thursday Afternoon at 3 (a delicious peach and grape wine), Lady of the Manor (a sweet concord which is basically Welch’s grape juice for adults… very good but very dangerous), and my personal favorite, Cordelia’s Desire (a spiced apple wine which I definitely bought). If wines aren’t really your thing (don’t worry: I’m a beer drinker, myself), there is still plenty that Marjim Manor can offer you! How about high tea in the former chapel? For just $35, guests will get a four-course tea while also learning about the mysterious history of the manor (fancy hats are always encouraged). Tea, not your thing? How about a murder mystery dinner? For $65, guests can partake in a four-course meal (complete with wine, of course!) as you try to solve a mysterious murder with a cast of colorful characters. Nothing like death, mayhem, and a shiraz!
Type of Experience: Winery
Dining Style: Casual-Dress Casual (for high tea)
Price Range: $4-$65 (from tastings to private ticketed events)
Address: 7171 Lake Rd, Appleton, NY 14008
Phone Number: (716) 778-7001
Hours of Operation:
*Reservations are required for groups larger than six.
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