Profiles in wine: Adrian Manspeaker, winemaker at Joseph Jewell

Adrian Manspeaker never considered making wine a career, until he tasted the pinot noirs of J. Rochioli and Gary Farrell|

When Adrian Jewell Manspeaker cofounded Joseph Jewell wines in 2007, pinot noir was the coolest kid on the block. Unfortunately, the fruit was nearly impossible to source locally thanks to the pinot-praising movie “Sideways,” which had driven up demand.

“That’s what led me to source fruit from Humboldt County,” said Manspeaker, who also makes wine for Panther Ridge, Raymond Burr Vineyards and Slusser Ranch. “The area checked all the right cool-climate boxes, just like the Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley and the Sonoma coast.”

For Manspeaker, the winemaker and proprietor of both Joseph Jewell and Jewell in Forestville, pinot noir has been the driving force behind his brands from the beginning, starting with the first wine he made in his small Windsor garage.

Born in Humboldt County, Manspeaker never considered making wine a career. In college, his focus was baseball. Before wine, it was construction.

But he and his wife, Lily, moved to Sonoma County in the early 2000s, they began hosting Sunday wine dinners with friends. After tasting the stellar pinot noirs of Sonoma County producers like J. Rochioli and Gary Farrell, Manspeaker was hooked.

When a friend who worked for Gary Farrell winery got his hands on some extra pinot noir grapes during harvest, Manspeaker agreed to help make wine in his garage. The resulting wine garnered quick praise from wine industry professionals, convincing Manspeaker and (now former partner) Micah Wirth to launch Joseph Jewell wines in 2007.

“I had absolutely no idea how to make wine back then,” admitted Manspeaker, who went on to study enology and viticulture through the UC Davis continuing education program. “But now I absolutely love the process, especially during the controlled chaos of harvest.”

After parting ways with Wirth in 2018, Manspeaker took the reins of the Joseph Jewell brand, where he continues to focus on pinot noir, in addition to chardonnay, zinfandel and less-common selections like skin-fermented pinot gris and pétillant naturel vermentino.

For Joseph Jewell’s wines, Manspeaker sources fruit from five vineyards in Humboldt County and six in Sonoma County, including Hallberg Ranch, Bucher Vineyard, Starscape Vineyard and others in the Russian River Valley.

The most pristine lots of fruit are reserved for his newest brand, Jewell, which highlights chardonnay and pinot noir. For both brands, each lot is fermented separately, allowing him to fine tune every detail from vine to bottle.

“What I enjoy most about the wine industry is that you’re always challenged, always learning,” Manspeaker said. “When I talk about my brand, it’s really about the community behind it — my family, the growers, my wine club members and customers. They are the lifeline to my brand’s success.”

Three questions for Adrian Manspeaker

Question: What is one of your favorite vineyards to work with?

Answer: In truth, I feel blessed to work with all my vineyards. From Sonoma County to Humboldt, we all share the same goal of making world-class wines and seeing that vision through, from vine to glass.

Q: Is there a winegrower you particularly enjoy working with?

A: Working with Kirk Lokka, and now his son Riggs, and Mari at Emeritus Vineyards has been such a pleasure. They aim to produce some of the best Russian River Valley pinot noir, and it shows up in the bottle every year. Also, John Bucher at Bucher vineyards on Westside Road is fantastic. He pays attention to the details, which of course makes my job much easier. Everyone I work with is part of my community.

Q: Is there a grape variety you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet?

A: I’m drawn to high-acid white wines, hence my love for vermentino. If I had to choose another grape varietal to work with, I’d lean towards chenin blanc or grüner veltliner.

You can reach Staff Writer Sarah Doyle at 707-521-5478 or

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