People > Novak Family

Mary Novak

“I have a deep connection to this land and a passion for all that it yields, not just the remarkable fruit, but also its sense of history. I know I share with the generations before me a strong devotion to this Estate and a commitment to protect and nurture it for future generations to enjoy. I hold this special place—like my family—close to my heart.”

Mary Weber Novak

Mary Weber Novak, Founder & Owner

In 1977, when Mary Weber Novak’s husband passed away unexpectedly, leaving her with five young children and a newly replanted vineyard, she became one of the first women to run a major Napa Valley winegrowing estate. In the years since, through her hard work, insight and perseverance, she has established Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery as one of the valley’s great family-owned wineries and first growth-caliber properties. Along the way, she has helped to pioneer environmentally conscious viticulture, and has played an integral role in championing women in the wine industry, both in the example she sets as a successful winery owner, and by appointing and empowering several women winemakers throughout Spottswoode’s storied history. More

Originally from Los Angeles, Mary earned a degree in education from Stanford before settling in North San Diego County with her husband, Dr. Jack Novak. On a trip to Napa Valley with their five children, Mary and Jack fell in love with the rural beauty and relaxed pace of the valley. There, they discovered an idyllic 31-acre property in St. Helena with vineyards and gardens. “I’ve always been a person who loves the land,” says Mary. “Taking in the gardens and walking through the vineyards, I knew we could make our home here.”

In 1972, Jack sold his medical practice and the Novaks moved to Napa Valley. They immediately acquired an additional 15 acres of adjacent land and began to replant their pre-Prohibition vineyard. Just five years later, after realizing his dream of moving his family to an agrarian community, Jack, then just 44, died of an untimely heart attack. Recognizing that the best future for her family lay in following through on their shared vision for Spottswoode, Mary took over management of the Estate and successfully completed her first harvest, selling grapes to various Napa Valley families, including the Shafers and Duckhorns.

In 1982, after earning Spottswoode’s reputation as a source for some of Napa Valley’s most sought-after grapes and being encouraged by her friends and peers, Spottswoode’s debut 1982 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was produced by Winemaker Tony Soter. Three years later, Tony made the pioneering suggestion to begin farming the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard organically, which Mary enthusiastically supported at a time when the notion of organic farming was in its infancy. After numerous highly acclaimed vintages in the mid-to-late 1980s, Mary stopped selling grapes to other wineries in order to focus exclusively on Spottswoode’s own wines, a decision that has helped to establish Spottswoode as a benchmark of quality for over three decades.

In the years since, Mary has been joined at Spottswoode by her daughters, Beth and Lindy. Working together, they have realized Mary’s vision of establishing Spottswoode as one of Napa Valley’s most esteemed multigenerational family estates. As she did in the early years, Mary still walks in the vineyard almost every day with her black lab, Riley, tends to her gardens, and enjoys her lunch at the winery. An incredible source of knowledge and history, Mary remains a guiding force at Spottswoode, and is a beloved and respected member of the Napa Valley community. In 2010, Mary and Beth served as Honorary Chairs of Auction Napa Valley, raising more than $8,5000,000 for Napa Valley nonprofits. Less

Beth Novak Milliken

“This Estate has been part of our family for over 30 years and we’ve worked hard to honor its legacy through careful preservation of the land and its historic buildings. How we care for the soil, water, and plants comes back to us, every year. With each vintage, we taste the wisdom of our commitment to organic farming.”

Beth Novak Milliken

Beth Novak Milliken, President & CEO

In 1987, Beth Novak Milliken joined her mother, Mary Novak, becoming the first second-generation family member to become actively involved in guiding Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery. In the more than quarter century since, Beth has played a key role in establishing the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard as one of the world’s great winegrowing sites, and Spottswoode as one of Napa Valley’s most iconic and respected wineries. She has also quietly built a reputation as a leader in the Napa Valley community, advocating on behalf of the wine industry, and the social and environmental causes she holds dear. More

Moving to Napa Valley with her parents in 1972, Beth grew up surrounded by the vineyards. Like her four siblings, Beth’s chores included tasks like suckering the vines and cleaning out the emitters. While her youth in Napa Valley may have planted the seed for her future, ironically, it was a year spent studying abroad in Europe that made her begin thinking about a career in wine. After earning a degree in economics from UCLA, Beth joined a San Francisco-based wine brokerage representing clients like Caymus, Joseph Phelps and Pine Ridge.

When Mary asked Beth to help out “a little” at the winery, it didn’t take long for a few days a week to become a permanent way of life. “Back then, we were on our third release, and we were still in the red,” says Beth. “Two things became immediately obvious to me: this was a full time position, and I absolutely loved being a part of the winery!” One of Beth’s first major decisions was to acquire the historic adjacent Kraft property to expand the estate and establish a barrel room and offices in its beautiful buildings. Since then, Beth has played an integral role in the thoughtful evolution of Spottswoode. During her tenure, Beth has overseen the replanting of the estate in response to phylloxera, the vineyard’s CCOF organic certification in 1992, and the building of the Spottswoode Estate Winery in 1999.

In addition, Beth has been a strong and effective voice for the Napa Valley wine community. Reflecting the high regard she’s held in by her peers, in 1998, Beth was elected the youngest president of the Napa Valley Vintners, becoming the first woman to hold the position. A believer in leading by example, Beth and Mary worked with four women winemakers in a row at Spottswoode, before promoting current winemaker Aron Weinkauf. Beth also spearheaded the restoration of Spring Creek, which defines the southern boundary of the estate vineyard. In 2010, Beth and Mary were honorary chairs of Auction Napa Valley, a hugely successful event that raised more than $8,500,000 for Napa Valley nonprofits, and in 2007, Spottswoode joined 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of Spottswoode’s gross revenues each year to nonprofits that support a healthier world.

Above all else, Beth sees herself as a steward of her family’s winegrowing estate. “Our family has a four-decade relationship with this land that now spans three generations. I grew up here, along with my four siblings, and now the third generation is enjoying the property. When you own a family winery like ours, the cellar is like a photo album, each vintage of our Spottswoode Estate Cabernet is a picture of a year in our family’s life. This is why it has always been so important to us that our wines reflect who we are, and what we believe in, both in terms of the way we farm our vineyard and the balanced style of our wines.” Less

Lindy Novak

“The personal connections I have been privileged to make while working at Spottswoode, with a wide variety of fascinating personalities involved in the wine industry, are what I find most sustaining and meaningful. And, of course, I am immensely fond of the Spottswoode home and property, as all of us Novaks are—it is a special, one-of-a-kind place.”

Lindy Novak

Lindy Novak, National Marketing Director

In 1992, Lindy Novak joined her sister, Beth, as part of a dedicated second generation working alongside their mother, Mary, to guide Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery. In the more than 20 years since, Lindy has brought her own unique touch to her role as national director of marketing, by building loyal and lasting relationships with Spottswoode’s distributor, restaurant and retail partners. Known for her warmth, humor and thoughtfulness, Lindy oversees Spottswoode’s sales program in 47 states, and is an eloquent ambassador for Spottswoode and the Novak family at tastings, dinners and other key trade and consumer events throughout the country. More

The eldest of the five Novak children, Lindy was 15 when she moved to Napa Valley with her family. A part of the emerging Napa Valley wine community, Lindy’s friends included the children of the Shafers and Chappellets, and she occasionally babysat the Duckhorn children. Summers were spent helping out around the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard with her siblings, playing tennis, and going to concerts at the Mondavi Winery.

After earning a degree in geography from UC Berkeley, Lindy worked extensively in the clothing industry, first as part of the buying program, and later as a manager, at Macy’s. Following Macy’s, Lindy began representing several high-end clothing lines, including Christian Dior, Henry Grethel, John Henry and Gottex swimwear.

In 1992, Lindy began working at Spottswoode part time. She soon discovered that she enjoyed working with her mother and sister, and contributing to the development of Spottswoode. Lindy also found that her honest, engaged approach to sales was the perfect fit for their family-run winery. After a number of years building distributor and retail relationships throughout California, Lindy took on the role of national marketing director. In this capacity, Lindy travels frequently, supporting Spottswoode’s distributor partners in all American markets. “I try to bring the same values to our relationships that we bring to our wines,” says Lindy. “They should be authentic, thoughtful and enduring.”

Lindy’s other interests include reading, writing, gardening, athletics, maintaining friendships, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and volunteer efforts with animal and environmental organizations. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Jeff. Less

Chief Greeter, Riley

Riley, Chief Greeter

Riley is number six in a long line of black labradors who have lived at Spottswoode. Although he is now sporting a greying muzzle, Riley acts like a puppy, bouncing with enthusiasm and greeting visitors up close with his wagging tail and hello woof. All part of his unique charm!

Novak Family
“…wines often do reflect the character of the people behind them, and the focused gentility that distinguishes Spottswoode Cabernet most definitely is echoed by the soft determination of the women responsible for it.”

Paul Lukacs, The Great Wines of America: The Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages

Chief Greeter, Riley