FINE WINE AND WICKED OCCASIONS: To say that beautiful bottles of rich-hued ports and cabernets and merlots and house wines never show up in scary films is to admit you're not watching closely enough. For example, it is rare that the head of the household, the brooding figure who oversees what the audience is soon to learn is a ghost-filled manse, doesn't offer his guests a glass of something by the fireplace. Opening a decanter, or clinking glasses before a glowing log, is a scene played out, again and again, in frightful fiction. It's no mystery, then, why a place in the real world might want to pair the two up for a night of tastings and terrifying delights. Or not too terrifying, really, but definitely in the theme of the Spookiest Holiday on the Calendar. That's Halloween, of course, and if you have plans on Oct. 31, but your Halloween Eve -- that's Friday, Oct. 30 -- is looking a little dullsville, then dramatically swirl your velvet cape around your shoulders and set out for St. Helena by coach at once. Or, er, your car'll do fine, if you happen to lack a horse-drawn coach (the kind that the brooding owner of a haunted manse might have at his beck and call). Cairdean Estate shall present The Haunted Caves on that night, a sippable night of scares and charming, holiday-eeky fun for those 21-and-over.
DUSK... is listed as the start time, as it usually is when something a little creepy and cool is afoot. The hobnobbing and wine-enjoying wraps by 9 o'clock, in case you want to sniff out a later dinner around town. And if you find yourself in St. Helena with some younger tykes, who are well below the requisite age? Arrive earlier in the day, as the estate is presenting "activities and treats from noon to 5pm." The earlier shindig is free to all, but if you want to sign up for the ghoulish grown-up doings, note the price is $75. Tastings are part of your ticket, as well as a "Haunted Cave Tour" sure to set you in a macabre mood (or at least give you some more insight into what goes on at the estate). Surely you're not afraid? After all, wine-sipping and cave-exploring are things we've seen in classic horror films. No true terror here, of course, just a flavorful pastime given a ghosty seasonal spin.