First and foremost, I think of Spottswoode as an extension of the Novak family. They are the charm and grace of the property—the human component, the driving energy for all that is done. Then, there are the beautiful oak trees, the timekeepers, the wise old sages overlooking the estate. Finally, and certainly not least are the vineyards, the worker bees of the hive. Every time I walk the vineyards, I can’t help but think about the influence Tony Soter has had on this property. His distinct imprint is still the backbone of what we work with, including the open trellis structure, the decision to farm organically, and the plan for replanting that has created much of the clonal and rootstock selections still in place today. His decisions made a deep imprint on the formative years. As we move into a new phase of development we are making some modifications, but so many of the choices he made were so pragmatic and sensible that it feels like all we’re doing is fine-tuning.
Much of being a winemaker and vineyard manager involves paying attention. While walking the vineyard, I have come across a wide variety of rocks—from quartz crystal and geodes to blue serpentine, hunks of white calcareous, volcanic pumice, and granite. I like to think that this diversity in parent material, combined with our long history of organic farming, healthy soils, and meticulous management yield the beautiful, dynamic wines we strive to make here at Spottswoode.
When I arrived at Spottswoode I was first impressed by the friendly people. I was also moved by the understated beauty of the place. It was a vineyard and winery that I felt had all the tools of a great estate, but with a well-worn and much-loved patina—beautiful but not extravagant, manicured but imperfect. I found the whole combination so personal and wonderful.
Over the years I have stopped looking at specific characteristics in wine. I look for balance, focus, density, and energy. I love a wine that is energetic and excites the senses. And I love a wine that will show you one thing one minute and another thing an hour later. I think this dynamic and strength of character marks exceptional wines.
Our viticultural practices are much the way they have been over the past decade. Organic practices drive our philosophy though we have been embracing certain biodynamic principles, and we continue to remain very conscientious of being a small town farm. A lot of our current efforts involve diversifying our tools and equipment with the goal of treading lighter, conserving more resources, and being able to work quickly and be more responsive to the more radical weather patterns we are seeing. Within the concept of farming for a single crop, we continue to try and increase biodiversity where we can. We are managing new pests and new diseases, while always aiming to have a healthy vineyard that will grow and thrive for decades to come.
I started making the wines at Spottswoode in 2011 and am still learning so much. With such great differences among vintages, I continue to fine-tune our winemaking, always striving for freshness and vibrancy. The 30th vintage of Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon marks my first year as winemaker and I can’t help but feel the history and sense of responsibility surrounding this milestone. I am simultaneously thrilled and humbled to carry on the winegrowing tradition begun so many years ago by Tony Soter and passed down through the many capable hands to mine. Here’s to many more vintages to come!