National Register of Historic Places in Napa County
Fortune Chevalier was born in France in 1815. As a young man, he repaired stained glass windows damaged by Europe's continuous warfare.
He sailed to San Francisco in 1850 with a supply of glass and a team of craftsmen to set up business and perhaps try his luck at panning for gold. Upon docking in San Francisco, Chevalier's workmen immediately abandoned him and headed for the gold fields themselves. Chevalier changed his career strategy and began a successful merchant of wines and spirits in Placerville, then Sacramento, and finally San Francisco.
When phylloxera destroyed the vineyards of Europe in the 1880's, Napa Valley wineries boomed. Despite the fact that he was 76, Chevalier purchased land on Spring Mountain, planted vineyards, built his chateau, and was a vintner until his death in 1899 at the age of 84.
In the early 20th Century, phylloxera and Prohibition devastated the pioneer wineries of California. Chateau Chevalier changed ownership several times. For seventy years, the vineyards produced some grapes but only for sale to other wineries. Finally, in 1973, Chateau Chevalier, now owned by the Bissonette family, produced its first estate vintage since Prohibition.
The property was owned briefly by John and Gil Nickel, who had revived the historic Far Niente Winery, then it was acquired by Spring Mountain Vineyard, the current owner.
Spring Mountain Vineyard Winery is open for tours and tasting, but Chateau Chevalier, located at some distance from the current winery and tasting rooms, is not included in the tours.