A small group of wine bloggers were invited by the Wine Hiker, Russ Beebe, to a tour and tasting at two well-known and famous Napa wineries. We met at Smith-Madrone on Spring Mountain and then went back down to the Valley floor for an exquisite lunch and tasting at Spottswoode in St. Helena. Visiting Smith-Madrone is always a kick because the Smith Brothers are so laid back and unpretentious. They both make you feel like you are an old friend. I have blogged previously about Smith-Madrone so if you want to know more about them read this post.
This was my first time to visit Spottswoode and to taste their wine. Spottswoode is all about Cabernet Sauvignon, not your ordinary Cab but one to be shared with family and friends for special meals and celebrations. The wine is some of the best Cabernet I have tasted in recent memory. The story began when Mary Novak and her late husband Dr. Jack Novak purchased the property in 1972. The vineyards behind their 1882 Victorian house consisted of a field blend of French Colombard, Gamay, and Syrah, all purchased in those days by Gallo. The Novaks ripped out the vineyards and replanted them with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. When phylloxera hit, all the vines were gradually replanted beginning in 1988. Originally, the Novaks sold all their Cab grapes and the word was out in the Napa Valley that these grapes were truly special.
With the unfortunate and untimely death of Jack Novak, Mary Novak, with the encouragement of many in the wine business, decided to make Spottwoode wine. The first vintage was in 1982. In 1985 the winery began organically farming the vineyards and became certified in 1990. The winery is located in a residential area of St. Helena and the family lives on the property, so organic farming was the only way to go.
After a delicious lunch at the Victorian home, we walked from the magical Spottwoode House through the vineyard and to the winery just down the road. The vineyards are located in a microclimate area in an alluvial fan area of the Mayacamus Mountains. At the winery, an old ghost winery is used as a barrel room. It was once the home of the Kraft winery and constructed in 1884. Then, the highlight of the afternoon: a vertical sit-down tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon wines, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2006, from the 2007 barrel. What a treat and delight! The 2001 rocked me back on my chair. Wow, what flavors and so velvety-in-mouth feel. I am not aware how the wine critics have rated these wines, but for me these are up in the 90 point range. Unfortunately, they are all out of my price bracket. What a shame but hey, I feel lucky enough to have had the chance to taste these wines. When I make my fortune blogging, I will certainly be buying Spottswoode Cabernet.
Should you wish to tour the winery and you should, there are only two tours per week and only by appointment. You won’t get the tour of the Victorian home or the fabulous lunch, but you will get to walk in the vineyards, tour the winery, and taste some very delicious and luscious wines.
Very nice write-up, Joe! It truly was a special day at Spottswoode, and I was very happy to have you along.