Napa Wines - Red - Checkerboard Vineyard
Checkerboard Vineyards encompasses some 300 acres just south of Calistoga touching the valley floor and extending up to 2000 feet on the upper slopes of the Diamond Mountain Appellation. The founders are real estate developers and businessmen Dennis O’Neil (Florida property developer, primarily apartments) and Stephen Martin purchased initial property for what would become Checkerboard Vineyards in 1998 and then later acquired other hillside properties. In addition to Checkerboard Vineyards, in honor of their generous support, the cancer center at the nearby St. Helena Hospital is named the Martin O’Neil Cancer Center.
Presently only about 14 of the 342 total acres are planted to vines – ranging in elevation from around 600 feet to 2000 feet. Part of the property was planted to old vine Chardonnay, which was being sold to another Diamond Mountain vintner but has since been replanted. Based on the geographical topography of the Diamond Mountain Appellation all of their vineyards are entirely within the appellation’s confines – the appellation’s lowest elevation starts at 400 feet. Checkerboard’s lowest vineyard, Spring Meadows is planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Coyote Ridge Vineyard is located at about 900 feet, the largest planting, Aurora Vineyard is at 1200 feet and forms a dramatic landscape next to the winery. Located on a small knoll it faces mostly south – somewhat unusual compared to many Diamond Mountain Vineyards which face east. The uppermost vineyard, Nash Creek is at 2000 feet. A 2.5 mile road leads from the bottom of the property to the top.