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> A Bird’s Eye View

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard

A peek at our estate vineyard reveals our history and continuing commitment as organic farmers. Look down at the whole of the estate, from a bird’s-eye view. Change here, as in nature, is deliberate and thoughtful. The creek, as it curves around the southern bank of our vineyard, has taken to its new cloak of native plants that have all but replaced the invasive non-native species that proliferated years prior. The creek restoration project, launched in 2000, has improved over 2,000 square feet of creek bank, thanks to the hard work of Evan Engber of Bioengineering Associates, landscape architect Ann Baker, and their respective crews.

The opposite side of the estate, lined with olive trees, has also experienced a face-lift of sorts. Believing in the benefit of increased biodiversity, we planted permanent insectaries between the olives trees, inviting vertebrates and invertebrates alike. We nurture these native shrubs and flowering plants, allowing us to “farm with the wild,” providing year-round habitat for our insectivorous guests.

Cultivating Quality

Focus now, from these diverse edges, to the heart of this operation—our estate vineyard. The Novak family’s dedication to the highest quality wines is evidenced by the replanting projects we have undertaken each year. Assessing each block annually, the vineyard and winemaking team meet with Mary and Beth to decide the best farming practices for each. With the goals of maximizing the quality of the fruit we cultivate, and maintaining a strong presence in the marketplace, we strive to anticipate the replanting needs within our vineyard. Our youngest vineyard block is planted in soil that has been refreshed with the installation of tightly spaced sub-surface drainage. This system—present in each of our newest plantings—drains spring rainwater, allowing timely root growth in optimum conditions, and permits the farmer increased control of canopy growth. We have also introduced a modified trellis system and tighter vine spacing to the Spottswoode Vineyard. We aspire to control growth and improve fruit conditions—increasing the concentration of the resulting grapes and wines.

Finally, within the vineyard rows, an ongoing experiment is evident. In addition to our traditional cover crop blends, we have installed a permanent native cover crop. This mixture of grasses and yarrow is encouraged to out-compete the resident weed population, reduce vigor in our most competitive blocks, increase water penetration and improve the microflora and organic matter in our soils.

We enjoy our role as stewards of this special property and from time to time, when we step back, we receive a deep sense of satisfaction to find the garden and vineyards, the nearby creek, and the resident owls and songbirds all flourishing under our watch.