Dave Besgrove, the owner of Grape Vine Springs Winery in Grapevine and Cowtown Winery in Fort Worth, didn’t grow up with dreams of becoming a vintner or a ghost hunter. His story is not unlike many others: He graduated college and went right into the corporate world. But then, forces beyond his control altered his life path forever…and ever…and ever.
“I was in the corporate world forever. My degree out of college was in Printing Management. I worked for a lot of printing companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth area over the years. I was Vice President of Sales for a few years in Dallas for a big company. And at one point, about 30 years ago, I worked with a guy who made wine at his house, and I was interested. He explained it to me, and I decided that I wanted to try it. Well, [the first batch] was horrible. You couldn't drink it. But over time, I got better at it. And so being in the graphic printing industry, I had several clients that were graphic artists, and I would get them to do a special wine label with my name on it every year for Christmas. I would give these out as gifts to my clients on the bottles of wine that I made. So, I got good at it.
“In 2002, my brother called me up and told me there was a winery for sale in Grapevine. He told me that we had to open our own winery because I knew how to make wine, and I agreed.”
Wine is fine, but where did the ghost tours come from?
“My winemaker would go in early in the morning around 5:00 [at the production facility in Ft. Worth] to get started. She would set her coffee cup down and go do something. She’d come back, and it would be turned over. That was just one of many things that would happen,” Besgrove explained.
He started to research his properties, located in or near the Fort Worth Stockyards, and realized that the area was known to be quite haunted. Not to be one to create fiction, Besgrove gathered historical information and decided to start a ghost tour at his Cowtown Winery in Ft. Worth.
“I did all the research, I wrote the scripts and hired the tour guides. It became successful, so I thought that I could surely dig up some ghosts and great fun here in Grapevine,” he said.
A history buff, Besgrove actually named his Grapevine winery based on past events.
“I did some research before I named my winery. So, when you look at the name of my winery, the ‘Grape’ and the ‘Vine’ are split right into two words. And the reason is because back in 1843, this area was called Grape Vine Springs, with the words split. That was right before the city was incorporated. There was a guy on the city council. He wanted to name the city Suggsville, after himself. Fortunately, that didn’t pass,” Besgrove said with a chuckle.
Besgrove’s research also yielded plenty of information of alleged hauntings in the City of Grapevine, especially in the downtown area. He used this information to create a walking ghost tour called Night Watchman Ghost Tour. Its namesake is based on the story of Grapevine's Night Watchman, who would patrol downtown looking for mischief. Some people say that on foggy nights, the Watchman's lantern can be seen floating through the mist as if he was still on patrol.
“We encourage people to take flash photos on the tours. Of course, we can’t guarantee you’ll see something, but we have had several sightings. A couple of girls went on the tour one night, and then came back later because they wanted to show me one of their photos. They were taking a picture of the front of the funeral home, and in the corner, in one of the windows, were two very distinct faces. You just never know,” Besgrove said.
There are usually between 15-25 people on the tour, which features “known-haunted” locations downtown, such as the Palace Theater and Foust Funeral Home. All locations are enhanced by historical facts about the buildings and ghost sightings.
Ghost Tours are conducted on most Fridays and Saturdays. The walking tours leave Grape Vine Springs Winery, located at 409 S. Main Street, at 7 pm sharp. The ticket price includes the tour and one glass of wine. Flash photography is encouraged, and paranormal research instruments are welcome. For more information on Night Watchman Ghost Tours, visit https://www.grapevinespringswinery.com/new-index-1.