The Spirits & Orbs of Bunker Hill: Manatee winery offers otherworldly tours

Manatee winery Bunker Hill offers otherworldly tours

jajones1@bradenton.comJanuary 18, 2014 

DUETTE -- Lenora and Larry Woodham say the spirits are real at Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery, 8905 Bunker Hill Road.

And they are not talking about the wine they make, bottle and sell.

Floating orbs of light, mists that suddenly materialize and disappear, names called out of nowhere, and even a gentle touch on a cheek are some of the phenomena they report experiencing in recent years.

"This is real," Larry Woodham told a visitor this week, while corking bottles of strawberry wine.

How real? Real enough to stop employees or family members in their tracks, say the Woodhams.

"Several of our employees have had their names called. Our granddaughter was here. Someone called 'Kate,' in a woman's voice. She stopped what she was doing and came in to see what we wanted," Lenora Woodham said.

No one in the store -- at least no one still alive -- had called Kate.

The Woodhams have lived on their Duette property for 17 years, but only began recognizing something unusual was happening about five years ago.

Several paranormal investigations have taken place on the property, and a number of psychics have visited.

They all agree that for some reason the property seems to attract spirits, and that it is a "safe haven" for the living, as well as for spirits.

"There are things on the other side we don't have answers to. I am a skeptic and I expect you to remain one, too," Larry Woodham said.

Liz and Ron Reed of the Paranormal Society of Bradenton have surveyed the property several times.

"We set up our DVR system in the guest house. It's interesting all the orbs it captured coming out in the guest house, some right at the camera," Liz Reed said.

"The only other place where we recorded more activity was in St. Augustine," she said.

In spite of the activity though, "It's a nice calm place," Reed said.

The Woodhams say they don't feel threatened by the spirits and want to keep it that way.

"Bunker Hill Vineyard is a very special place where spirits and orbs co-exist with the living. Provoking of these spirits and orbs will not be tolerated. Mutual respect is the order of the day," the Woodhams tell those who visit.

The Woodhams offer "Spirit & Orb Walks" the third Saturday night of each month.

They invite guests to bring cameras with flash, electronic voice phenomena (EVP) recorders, electromagnetic field (EMF) recorders, and digital temperature recorders to capture any phenomena that might be in the area.

"One visitor reported seeing people moving toward the river," Larry Woodham said of a fork of the Little Manatee River that touches the vineyard property.

Lenora Woodham adds that they "all looked happy."

They wonder if early settlers had conducted baptisms in the river, and if there is Native American presence on the property.

"All we want to do is document it. Why here? What is so unique about this property?" Woodham says, as he guided a visitor on a nighttime tour of the 23-acre property recently.

During the tour, Woodham spoke soothingly to any spirits who might be in the area.

But the spirit world was quiet that night, aside from a few possible clues.

Using an EVP recorder that quickly scans radio frequencies, Woodham asked a spirit his name.

"Abraham," came the very clear response.

The other clue: a photo of the night sky, shot through the trees in back of the Woodhams' house. In the top right-hand corner was a suspicious round object that could be a light flare, a speck of dust, or maybe even an orb. It appeared in only one photo of several taken of the night sky.

For the Woodhams, there is no doubt that something unusual is happening at Bunker Hill.

"You know something is here when so many people tell you that they sense something or have seen something," Lenora Woodham said.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1

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