Spottswoode Estate and Winery

Spottswoode Estate and Winery

Spottswoode is a family-owned historic vineyard and winery renowned for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. Established in 1882 by George Schonewald, the estate is distinguished by the historic Victorian home depicted on the Spottswoode label. Spottswoode was christened by Mrs. Albert Spotts, who owned the property from 1910 until its purchase in 1972 by Mary Weber Novak and her late husband, Dr. Jack Novak. The first Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon was produced in 1982, exactly one hundred years after the estate’s founding.

Today, two of Mary’s daughters, Beth and Lindy, work for the family winery that each year releases four very special wines: the Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon, and Field Book. The Novak family is committed to producing wines that faithfully reflect their grape origins. Each Spottswoode wine is known for its refined elegance, balance, and classic structure. Dedicated stewards of their property, the Novaks have farmed organically since 1985 and have pioneered the restoration of their local watershed.

Spottswoode Estate’s success is due in large part to a small and dedicated group of individuals who share a passion for producing exceptional wine. Owner Mary Novak oversees all comings and goings and is assisted by daughters, Beth Novak Milliken, who serves as President and CEO of the winery, and Lindy Novak who is Spottswoode’s National Marketing Director.

As the owner of Spottswoode, Mary Weber Novak is very much involved with the operation of both the Estate Vineyard and Winery. Originally from Los Angeles, Mary graduated from Stanford University and thereafter made her home in North San Diego County with her husband, Jack Novak. In 1972, Mary and Jack purchased the Spottswoode Estate (already a grape growing property) and undertook the immense endeavor of replanting the vineyard. After Jack passed away unexpectedly in 1977, Mary made the decision to keep her family in the Napa Valley. The winery was started five years later, in 1982, with the first production of the Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon.

Beth Novak Milliken is the President & CEO of Spottswoode Vineyard and Winery, having joined forces with her mother in the fall of 1987. She came to work at Spottswoode just after its inception, arriving here just as the 1984 Cabernet was released in 1987. In addition to overseeing their family business, Beth is a past (and first woman!) President of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, and she participates in numerous volunteer and philanthropic events.

Lindy Novak joined the winery in 1992 and oversees national marketing. An interest in preserving the integrity of the family’s winery property and a fondness for working with people has presented her with the opportunity to solidify and expand account and distributor communications and friendships.

In May of 2011 Aron Weinkauf was named Spottswoode’s Winemaker. Aron grew up in Reno, Nevada before moving to Georgia to study at Berry College. While at Berry he was able to travel and study in Europe, where he first began to learn about wine. Upon returning to the states Aron determined that winemaking would be an extremely rewarding profession, considering his fondness for wine and food and his love of farming and family. He moved to Fresno to study winemaking and graduated with his Viticulture and Enology degree from Fresno State University in 2005. He worked for a local Madera Winery while attending school, and then worked a 2005 harvest internship in Sonoma County. Aron joined Spottswoode’s production team as Assistant Winemaker in the spring of 2006. He added Vineyard Manager to his title in 2009, and in his dual roles of Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at our small Estate Vineyard and Winery, Aron enthusiastically pursues our commitment to the organic farming of the finest grapes and the crafting of the finest wines, without compromise.

The Spottswoode Estate Vineyard is an ideal terroir for growing wine grapes. Situated along the western edge of St. Helena on the apex of the Sulphur Creek fan, the sandy clay loam provides superb drainage. The gap between the Mayacamas Range and Spring Mountain admits cooling maritime breezes that temper the sun’s warmth, creating an exceptional microclimate for winegrowing.

Our forty acres are planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Musque. As stewards of this beautiful estate, we treat the land with great respect. We hand-tend and organically farm our grapes and have been certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) since 1992. The individual attention given to each block of our vineyard contributes to the quality, consistency, and unique flavor of our wines.

The Spottswoode Estate consists of two historic buildings (circa 1884): a Victorian farmhouse which serves as our office, and a pre-Prohibition stone cellar where we barrel-age our Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ve also added a handsome winery built to blend seamlessly with the historic structures and carefully designed to help our winemaker optimize the quality of each distinct block of our estate vineyard.

Spottswoode’s alluvial soil, comprised of gravelly clay loam, is one of the Estate’s greatest assets. In order to promote a living, breathing earth, we plant a variety of cover crops such as vetch, peas, clover, and oats every fall. We continue to work to reduce tillage and are working to reestablish native California grasses in the vineyard. Our cover cropping and cultivation practices work to feed our soil, encourage a healthy rhizosphere, and reduce the need for additional inputs. We have also embraced numerous biodynamic principals, including composting, the incorporation of more animals and working with the lunar calendar. The visual diversity, rich soil and abundant earthworms confirm our successful organic practices.

Our commitment to producing the highest quality wines is evidenced by the amount of time we spend in our estate vineyard. Each year we carefully assess each individual block and determine the best approach for each. For example, our youngest vineyard block will be planted in soil that has been refreshed with the installation of tightly spaced sub-surface drainage. This system—present in each of our newest plantings—drains spring
rainwater, allowing timely root growth in optimum conditions, and gives us increased control over canopy growth. Our new planting will also introduce a modified trellis system and tighter vine spacing to the Spottswoode Vineyard. We aspire to control growth and improve fruit conditions—increasing the concentration of the resulting grapes and wines.

A visit to our estate vineyard reveals our history and continuing commitment as organic farmers. Our creek restoration project has improved over 2,000 square feet of creek bank. We have planted insectaries between our olive trees to provide year-round habitat for our insectivorous guests. We have also planted a permanent native cover crop between vineyard rows along with our traditional cover crop blends. This mixture of grasses and yarrow will out-compete the resident weed population, increase water penetration, and improve the microflora and organic matter in our soils.

For over 40 years, we’ve enjoyed being part of the St. Helena community. Our family moved here in 1972 when the town was still a sleepy, agricultural community. Main Street boasted four auto parts stores. There was no fine dining, no historic museums or tasting rooms; nor was there much traffic! We attended St. Helena public schools and rode our bikes all over town. Over the years, we have witnessed St. Helena’s amazing growth from a small, rural town to a vibrant, cultural destination. Through it all, we’ve fallen in love with this community and enjoy contributing to its success. To this end, Spottswoode funds and supports numerous organizations particularly those that benefit the children of St. Helena and the environment.