Spottswoode founder Mary Weber Novak dies

Mary Weber Novak, founder of renowned Napa Valley estate Spottswoode, has died aged 84 after a brief battle with cancer.

Mary with her daughters Beth and Lindy

Mary with her daughters Beth and Lindy

One of the first women to run a major Napa Valley estate, Novak established Spottswoode in 1972 with her husband Jack after chancing upon the 31-acre St Helena property during a family holiday to Napa.

The pair immediately acquired an adjacent 15-acre parcel of land and began to replant the Spottswoode vineyard, which had grown grapes since 1882.

Mary with her beloved black labradors

Mary with her beloved black labradors

Five years later Jack died suddenly of a heart attack aged just 44, leaving Mary to run the estate while bringing up their five children. Getting involved in the harvest, Novak sold grapes to the likes of Shafer and Duckhorn.

She moved from grape growing into bottled wine production in 1982 after hiring Tony Soter as chief winemaker, who made his debut the same year with Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

US critic Robert Parker refers to Spottswood as “one of Napa Valley’s first growth wines and vineyards”. In 1985, LA-born, Stamford educated Novak began farming the estate organically when the concept was in its infancy and later installed solar power.

Encouraging daughters Beth and Lindy to work with her, Novak has also mentored the likes of Mia Klein, Pam Starr, Rosemary Cakebread and Jennifer Williams.

“She had immense inner strength, an amazing spirit and love of life, and a dream that Spottswoode would continue through generations,” said her daughter Beth Novak Milliken.

“Her kindness, energy, intelligence, sense of humour, humility and vivacious personality will be missed,” she added.

Novak is survived by her five children: Lindy, Kelley, Beth, Mike and Matt, and nine grandchildren.

A celebration of Mary’s life will be announced at a later date. Donations can be made in Mary’s name to The Land Trust of Napa County or The Trust for Public Land.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Supply Chain Assistant

Speciality Drinks
London NW10 7SF, UK

Supply Chain Co-ordinator

Speciality Drinks
London NW10 7SF, UK

On-Trade Regional Sales Manager

Anthony Byrne Fine Wines
West Midlands & Northants

Logistics Team Leader

Speciality Drinks
London, UK

Assistant Operations Manager

Speciality Drinks
London, UK

Technical Manager

North South Wines
West Drayton, UK

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives
Maldives

Business Manager - Impulse

Australian Vintage
Croydon, UK

Decanter Awards Marketing Manager

Decanter
London, UK

Customer Development Manager - South London

Love Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Exclusive Masterclass: Chablis on Tour

London,United Kingdom
29th Apr 2019

Vinexpo Bordeaux

Bordeaux,France
13th May 2019

London Wine Fair 2019

London,United Kingdom
20th May 2019
Click to view more

The Global Grenache Masters 2019

Deadline : 26th April 2019

The Tuscan Masters 2019

Deadline : 26th April 2019

Click to view more

The Global Riesling Masters 2018

View Results

Rioja Masters 2018

View Results

Click to view more