Nestled on a gently sloping segment of land on the quiet, western end of St. Helena, California, Spottswoode Estate contains a remarkable piece of environmental history. The property became one of the first vineyards in the Napa Valley to farm 100% organically in 1985, eventually evolving into a leader in sustainable farming for the famous wine-growing region.
In addition to being organic, the property is also solar-powered and biodynamic, all while producing world-class and sought-after vintages year after year. The family-run business has continued to inspire its peers to explore the sustainable farming practices it helped shape in the 80s.
The Napa Valley estate vineyard at Spottswoode was first planted in 1882. Just like many other historic vineyards and wineries in the area, Spottswoode survived Prohibition throughout the 1920s by selling grapes for use in sacramental wine. In 1985, the St. Helena property became the first winery in the valley to farm without the use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers, long before sustainability became popularized in wine marketing. In 1992, Spottswoode made history again by becoming one of the first wineries to earn CCOF organic certification.
Since 2007, Spottswoode has committed to donating 1% of its gross annual revenue to supporting environmental causes with 1% for the Planet; it also became one of the earliest members of International Wineries for Climate Change. The 46-acre estate has added owl boxes, bluebird boxes, green-winged swallow boxes, bee boxes and year-round insectaries to maintain wildlife conservation on property. The company works hard to ensure that the Spottswoode land works as its own living ecosystem while continuing to produce award-winning wine.
In 2007, Spottswoode began installing solar arrays to offset its energy usage. Today the system has grown to offset 100% of its annual production and office-related energy needs and generates about 75% of its agricultural energy needs. In 2010, biodynamic farming through the use of cover crops and composting was introduced to the vineyard.
The Spottswoode Winery was founded by Mary Novak in 1982, exactly 100 years after the original planting of the property’s vineyard. At the time, Mary was one of the first women to manage a major winemaking estate in Napa Valley. Since her passing in 2016, her two daughters have followed in her footsteps to run the winery as a female-led company, playing an important role in the environmental and sustainable practices that their mother instilled in the Napa wine industry.
In 2017, Spottswoode was honored with the Green Medal Environment Award by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute and Napa Valley Vintners. Mary’s daughter Beth Novak was named chair of the Napa Valley Vintners Environmental Stewardship Committee in 2019.
Images via Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery