Dave Besgrove, the owner of Grape Vine Springs Winery in Grapevine and Cowtown Winery in Fort Worth, didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a winemaker or a ghost hunter. His story is no different from many others: he graduated from college and went straight into the corporate world. But then, forces beyond his control altered his life path forever…and forever…and already.
“I’ve always been in the corporate world. My college degree was in print management. I’ve worked for many print companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth area over the years. I’ve been 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 in that. He explained it to me and I decided I wanted to try it. Well, [the first batch] was awful. You couldn’t drink it. But over time, I got better. And so being in the graphic printing industry, I had several clients who were graphic designers, and I asked them to do a special wine label with my name on it every year for Christmas. I would give them as gifts to my customers on the wine bottles I made. So I got good.
“In 2002, my brother called me and said there was a winery for sale in Grapevine. He told me we had to open our own winery because I knew how to make wine, and I agreed.
Wine is good, but where do the ghost tours come from?
“My winegrower came home early in the morning around 5:00 a.m. [at the production facility in Ft. Worth] to start. She put down her coffee cup and went to do something. She would come back, and it would be over. It was just one of many things that would happen,” Besgrove explained.
He began researching his properties, located in or near the Fort Worth stockyards, and realized that the area was known to be quite haunted. Not one to create fiction, Besgrove gathered some historical information and decided to start a ghost tour at his Cowtown winery in Ft. Worth.
“I did all the research, wrote the scripts, and hired the tour guides. It became a hit, so I thought I could surely dig up some ghosts and have fun here in Grapevine,” said he declared.
A history buff, Besgrove actually named his winery Grapevine after past events.
“I did some research before naming my vineyard. So when you look at the name of my winery, ‘grape’ and ‘vine’ are split into two words. And the reason is that in 1843 this area was called Grape Vine Springs, with the words split. It was just before the city was incorporated. There was a guy on the city council. He wanted to name the town Suggsville, after himself. Luckily it didn’t work out,” Besgrove said with a laugh.
Besgrove’s research has also yielded a wealth of information about alleged hauntings in the town of Grapevine, particularly 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 the Grapevine night watchman, who patrolled downtown in search of mischief. Some people say that on foggy nights, the Watchman’s lantern can be seen floating in the mist as if he were still on patrol.
“We encourage people to take flash photos during tours. Of course, we can’t guarantee you’ll see anything, but we’ve had several sightings. Two girls went on tour one night and then came back later because they wanted to show me one of their pictures. They were taking a picture of the front of the funeral home, and in the corner, in one of the windows, were two distinct faces. You never know,” Besgrove said.
There are usually between 15 and 25 people on the tour, which includes downtown “known haunted” locations such as the Palace Theater and Foust Funeral Home. All locations are enriched with historical facts about buildings and ghost sightings.
Ghost Tours take place most Fridays and Saturdays. Walking tours depart Grape Vine Springs Winery, located at 409 S. Main Street, at 7 p.m. sharp. The ticket price includes the visit and a glass of wine. Flash photography is encouraged and paranormal research instruments are welcome. For more information on Night Watchman Ghost Toursto visit https://www.grapevinespringswinery.com/new-index-1.