Spottswoode Estate

Spottswoode Estate, in California’s Napa Valley, survived the devastating wine country fires in 2017 and has been thriving ever since.

Currently run by the daughters of the previous owners, Spottswoode has made a name for itself over the years as being one of the top wineries in the United States.

Spottswoode Estate was founded in 1882 by George Schonewald and named after a Mrs. Albert Spotts after she purchased the estate in 1910. In 1972, the estate was purchased by Mary and Jack Novak and, exactly 100 years after the founding of the estate, Mary Novak released the first vintage in 1982.

The Novaks eventually passed their estate onto their daughters, Beth Novak Milliken and Lindy Novak. Beth manages the winery and Lindy manages the vineyard’s marketing. Beth, who studied economics at UCLA, developed her interest in wine by working alongside her mother at Spottswoode. Along with helping her mother, she became president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, and participates in many philanthropic events to this day.

In 1992, Spottswoode received their organic certification form the California Certified Organic Farmers and also moved the winery’s offices to a newly refurbished Victorian farmhouse.

2017 was a difficult year for the daughters. Heavy rains and forest fires had an impact on some of their grapes. Despite such an extreme and changeable year, the Novaks moved past all of it and pulled through. One thing is for sure, though, a single tough year is not going to prevent them from continuing to expand and make some of the best Californian, not to mention American, wines available today.

Beth and Mary Novak’s determination and grit is visible in the way they run their vineyard. Throughout the years, the Novaks have acquired new land, adjacent farms, and new buildings into which they can expand their ever-growing business. They not only produce wine, but olive oil as well, and it seems as though their winery will continue to expand and improve in the years to come.

Spottswoode Estate is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up a full 85% of the winery’s total production. The remainder is made up of Sauvignon Blanc.

They produce 6 different wines in total: the Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Spottswood Sauvignon Blanc, the Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon, the Spottswood “Mary’s Block Sauvignon Blanc, which is named for the Mary Weber Novak, the founder of the estate, and two field book wines, which are exclusive to members of their winery.

About 18 hectares are planted at the estate, which rests on alluvial clay and loam soil. The Novaks practice sustainable soil maintenance, so that they are able to preserve the terroir of the area for future generations. These practices involve planting cover crops, such as peas, clover and oats every fall to enrich the soil and significantly reduce tillage. They also replant native California grasses. All of these efforts put together have helped to feed the soil, which in turn feeds the grapes, and helps to make their wines stand out. The estate is also a certified organic vineyard, as it has been producing its wines through organic methods since 1985.

Spottswoode Estates’s Cabernet Sauvignon is aged for around 20 months in French oak barrels. Depending on which vintage it is, they may also include some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot as part the blend.

Their Sauvignon Blanc is made primarily from estate fruit, some of which is purchased from other vineyards in the area.

One of their Sauvignon Blancs, the Mary’s Block, is named in honour of their mother, who founded and ran the winery until passing it on to her daughters. This wine is made exclusively from a 0.43 hectares plot of vines in the vineyard. Some of the proceeds from the sale of the Mary’s Block wines goes to one of Mary Novak’s favourite charities, the Land Trust of Napa County. It’s in ways such as this that the daughters are involved, giving back to the area that they call home.

Spottswoode Estate’s signature wine is its Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Cabernets, as is often the case for many Californian wines, are fruit forward with notes of blackberry and spice.

For you, we have chosen the 2012 Spottswoode Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon.