Joseph Jewell Wines
Russian River Valley AVA
From a small Garagiste operation, this incredible winery has morphed into one of Sonoma County’s leading Pinot Noir producers.
It isn’t easy for a winery to jump to a higher tier of accomplishment. In fact, many have tried and relatively few have succeeded.
One of the great success stories is this month’s Pinot Noir Wine Club feature, the Joseph Jewell Winery of Sonoma County. Originally begun as a communal effort between two friends in a garage in Windsor, California, Joseph Jewell Winery was the handiwork of Adrian Manspeaker and Micah Wirth. Both partners had associations with UC Davis and utilized their middle names Joseph and Jewell to name the new venture.
The first release of Joseph Jewell Winery utilized the 2007 vintage and a total of 450 cases were produced. The wines produced three 90-plus scores and the rest, as they say, is history.
Micah Wirth left the company a short while ago to pursue other interests and Adrian Manspeaker is now the sole owner of Joseph Jewell Winery.
“I always wanted to be a Pinot Noir house,” informed Manspeaker. “But when we started the business it was right after the movie Sideways had made Pinot Noir fruit almost impossible to find so we concentrated on other varietals. Then the Recession hit and actually did us a favor. Many of the larger wineries began to back out of their grape contracts and suddenly the vineyards we were seeking fruit from became available. We only bought top notch fruit from growers we knew were consistent, and the ensuing years have proven us right in our selections.”
Now that he has complete control of Joseph Jewell Winery, Adrian Manspeaker has leveled off his company’s production at between 1,800 and 3,000 cases each year. “It all depends on the yield of each vintage, which is different every year. I am attempting to make delicate, balanced wines for our followers to enjoy, and these types of wines don’t always bring the highest scores.”
Why the love of the Pinot Noir grape?
“In my opinion, when Pinot Noir is produced correctly, it is more capable of expressing terroir than any other varietal. The terroir becomes the focus of the wine rather than the fruit forward aspect that generally expresses body and flavor,” he added. “You can take fruit from the same block and make totally different wines with varying characteristics. Since every vintage is different, it is entirely possible to please a great number of people’s palate needs with essentially the same wine.”
Joseph Jewell Winery operates a tasting facility in Forestville (just above Healdsburg) on a ridge overlooking the famous Russian River. It employs a small staff (who also help during crush times) and Adrian Manspeaker continues as the company’s permanent and celebrated winemaker.
On the Joseph Jewell 2015 Pinot Noir?
“I was able to utilize three different vineyards that produce outstanding Pinot Noir fruit. Hallberg Vineyard, Bucher Vineyard and Starscape Vineyard (formerly Floodgate Vineyard) each provide unique elements to the blend. The resultant effect from these three great vineyards gives the drinker a unique insight into what really good Pinot Noir tastes like. I believe it will please the palates of a great number of Pinot lovers, which was my aim from the very beginning.”
This is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the handiwork of one of California’s top Pinot Noir producers that is seldomly available due to the limited production of the winery.
It is our great pleasure to introduce Adrian Manspeaker and his Joseph Jewell Pinot Noir to our club members. His wine speaks for itself in what we consider to be a formidable and highly enjoyable tone. Enjoy!
Map of the area
Adrian Jewell Manspeaker - Owner/Winemaker
Adrian grew up on the northern coast of California and found an appreciation early on for the micro-climates of his surrounding area. After moving to Sonoma County, he discovered his passion for wine and the transformation it goes through from vineyard to barrel to bottle. Living in Sonoma County gave him the opportunity to study enology and viticulture through UC Davis' extension program.
Shortly after, Adrian joined C. Donatiello and took the theories learned in class and applied them to the winery's 2007 crush as well as a stint at Peay Vineyards for their 2008 harvest. Adrian's intense drive and commitment are shown in every aspect of his work, from forming long-lasting relationships with growers, overseeing the design of the labels and being meticulous in the quality of the wine. He now has 12 years of winemaking experience and continues to produce some fantastic wines adorning his Joseph Jewell label.
Sonoma County Region
The 2011 Pinot Noir comes from the Hallberg Vineyard in the Green Valley sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley. Named after the former owners, Don and Marcia Hallberg, the Hallberg Vineyard property was once home to 115 acres of Gravenstein apples.
Historically, this region was known for its apple orchards but starting in the mid 1980s, the apple industry moved north to Washington. In 1999, the Hallbergs decided to sell their property to Brice Jones of Sonoma-Cutrer Winery who recognized that the site had great potential for Pinot Noir.
Today, the Hallberg Vineyard produces some of the finest Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley and Joseph Jewell Wines is one of the few wineries with access to the fruit. Micah and Adrian began sourcing Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir in 2010 and they have had great success with the fruit vintage after vintage. Their 2011 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir is one of their best achievements to date and a brilliant expression of the vineyard.