Mary Weber Novak, Founder of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, Dies at 84

Napa Valley loses one of its greats

Thomas Heinser

Novak championed women in the wine industry, was an integral part of the Napa Valley wine community, and helped pioneer organic viticulture.

Mary Weber Novak, founder of Napa Valley’s Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, passed away on Sunday “after a brief fight with cancer,” Wine Industry Advisor reported.

“Through her hard work, insight and perseverance, Mary was quietly instrumental in establishing Spottswoode as one of the valley’s great family-owned wineries and a first growth-caliber property,” the article said.

Novak was an integral part of the Napa Valley community and was said to embody “the spirit, graciousness, and vision that helped to build Napa Valley.” She was one of the first women to run a major winegrowing estate in Napa Valley, helped to pioneer organic viticulture, and championed women in the wine industry not only for her own example as a successful winery owner but also in bringing two of her daughters to work with her.

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 “I have had the honor of working alongside my Mom for 29 years in helping her build Spottswoode into the incredible estate vineyard and winery that it is today,” Novak’s daughter, Beth Novak Milliken, said. “She had immense inner strength, an amazing spirit and love of life, and a dream that Spottswoode would continue through generations. This has become a part of me, and of my family, and together we embrace carrying her legacy forward by continuing to nurture this wonderful estate property, which we are so fortunate to be a part of. We are honored to continue the work which she, and our Dad, started when we moved here in 1972.”