Joseph Jewell Wines: Your Next Visit in Sonoma County!

There’s something special about the Russian River Valley.  Depending on the day, you could experience the fog in the morning coming off the Sonoma Coast, take in a view of the Russian River, or enjoy the comfort of the nearby Redwood Trees.

But, it’s a little known fact that the Russian River Valley excels in making excellent Pinot Noirs.  And, if you’re looking for a great example of this, look no further than Joseph Jewell Wines in Downtown Forestville.

They also offer some pretty incredibly wine experiences such as a picnic in the vineyard they source their grapes from where the winemaker will pour the wine for you right out in the field, or a full helicopter ride experience over the Russian River Valley Vineyards!  TALK about an experience worth remembering!  More info on those experiences can be found at their website.


Adrian Jewell Manspeaker and Micah Joseph Wirth

Joseph Jewell Wines have been around since 2006, when friends, Micah Joseph Wirth and Adrian Jewell Manspeaker came together to form a business in winemaking.  Micah, had grown up around wine his entire life, his dad being a winemaker himself, Chris Wirth, and, at the time, was mentoring under Gary Farrell Winery.  That year, Gary asked Micah if he wanted to make some wines since he had an extra ton of grapes.  That’s when Micah turned to his friend, Adrian Jewell Manspeaker, and asked, do you want to make some wine together?  Adrian’s response, at first, was, “Can we do that?”  And so, they began, making wine, right out of their garage, and 10 years later, they’re still making wine, getting a better sense of their winemaking style, establishing a fan-base, and getting the word out about their extraordinary wines! And they’ve moved well past making wine out of their garage!

Adrian Jewell Manspeaker, came from Humboldt County, and, you will see a huge tribute to where he grew up the more we explore their wines.  And, from there, learned about the micro-climates of Northern California.  It was when he moved to Sonoma County when his love of wine truly began, and of course, opened up his true passion.  He began to study wine at UC Davis Extension Program, and also, where he ended up crossing paths with Micah.

I spent an afternoon out with co-owner Adrian Jewell Manspeaker to learn more about their wines, and to experience one of their vineyards they source from out of the Russian River Valley: Starscape Vineyards (formerly known as Floodgate Vineyards).  This vineyard, also houses some of the oldest Pinot Noir Vineyards in the region.


Upon arriving to Starscape Vineyards, Adrian led us around the vineyard, explained where their lot of vines were located (in the picture above if you look down upon the far hillside, that is the lot where their Pinot Noir comes from out of this Vineyard!) Also, one of the more popular lots out of this vineyard!  Adrian and Micah source all of their wine grapes from various vineyards around the Russian River Valley and up in Humboldt County.  Adrian also pointed out the flat land, where vines are located, and how they easily get flooded during the winter months from rain, etc.  BUT, during that time of the year, the vines are dormant, so the flooding causes very little damage to the vines.

He then walked us further down the vineyard and pointed out to us some of the oldest living Pinot Noir vines out of the Russian River Valley, planted around the 1960’s.


Back in the day, Pinot Noir Vines were planted about 10 feet apart, where today, they are planted about 5-7 feet apart. You could really see the difference when walking side by side in the vineyards:

The distance between vines back in the 1960’s:


And, if you’ve seen vineyards today, you know that distance has definitely decreased over time!

We slowly  headed back up to our cars, took one last peak at the vineyards before driving a few miles down the road to Joseph Jewell Wines Tasting Room in Downtown Forestville!

Downtown Forestville is a cute little Main Street in Sonoma County, that if you blink, could honestly miss it in a blink of an eye, however, new tasting rooms are being added every year, and there’s some great new restaurants coming into the area making it worth a stop on your Wine Tasting Adventures in Sonoma County!

It’s also where the Tasting Room of Joseph Jewell Wines is located: A byway between Downtown Sebastopol and the Russian River Valley.


Adrian’s wife helped design the inside of the tasting room, and I must say, she has an excellent eye in making the tasting room a fun, relaxing place to have fun, and to enjoy some great wine. Art aligns the walls of the tasting room from a local artist in the area.

And then the wines began to come out:


One thing I truly loved about tasting through the Joseph Jewell Wines, was that they both had their Single Varietal Vineyard Wines coming from the vineyards they sourced their grapes from (Appian Way, Starscape, and Hallberg Vineyards) and they also had Pinot Noir blends available coming from all the vineyards.  And since I’m a huge fan of wine blends, this was a huge win for me!

But Joseph Jewell doesn’t just make Pinot Noir, they do happen to make some Chardonnay and Zinfandel, as well.

The evening started out with Chardonnay out of the Starscape Vineyard that we had just came from:


By now, if you haven’t figured it out: Joseph Jewell is the combination of both Adrian and Micah’s middle names!  I found out that night, just how hard, it was to come up with a business name for wine, but, I have to say, the combining of the two middle names was brilliant!


Another unique thing about Joseph Jewell Wines is that they source grapes out of Humboldt County, and make the wine (Pinot Noir) from those grapes.  This is a huge tribute to where Adrian grew up.  They started to do this in 2008, where they found their first vineyard in Humboldt County to source grapes from. That vineyard was Elk Prairie, and they still source from that vineyard today.

The wine I tried out of Humboldt County came from their Alderpoint Vineyard, and was their 2014 vintage.  I just loved the fact that I could try both Humboldt County Pinot Noir and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir right next to each other, and truly taste the difference.  It was a GREAT experience, and one I think many of you would enjoy, as well.

And then we began to taste their Russian River Valley Wines: Starting with the 2012 Russian River Valley blend:


This wine, in particular, was chosen as one of the Top 100 Wines of 2012! And let me tell you, this blend and bottle definitely left a lasting impression on me.  It was one of the favorites of the evening, for me!

BUT: as I said earlier, they also had wines coming straight from their Russian River Vineyards of: Appian Way, Starscape Vineyards, and Hallberg Vineyards for you to try when visiting.  Each one brought a different characteristic to Pinot Noir, and you could taste the difference in what a vineyard can bring to the table.

The Appian Way was the first Joseph Jewell Vineyard they sourced from out of the Russian River Valley! The Starscape Vineyard is their favorite vineyard to work in, and the Hallberg Vineyard is completely Dry Farmed, meaning no irrigation at all, and was definitely a favorite amongst the three single vineyard wines.


Lets talk about their Rubies and Emerald Wines!  These wines are only available to their wine club, which has the perfect name: The Jewell Club.

The Rubies are made from the best 3 Wine Barrels out of every vintage every year.  The Rubies come out of the Russian River Valley Barrels, and the Emeralds come out of the best 3 Humboldt County Barrels.  These wines are definitely some of the most coveted wines by their wine club every year!

This March they will be releasing a Rose of Pinot Noir, just in time for summer!

And for those Zinfandel lovers out there: don’t miss out on their Gris Vineyard Zinfandel.  The vineyard was planted in 1974 where they source their grapes from.  And their 2012 vintage received the Top 100 Wines award from Wine Enthusiast.  They use 100% French Oak on the Zinfandel.


A huge thank you to Adrian Jewell Manspeaker for taking the time to talk with me about Joseph Jewell Wines, and show me one of the vineyards they source their grapes from (Starscape Vineyard). Exactly the vineyard Adrian is standing on in the above photograph.

Be sure to stop into their Joseph Jewell Wine Tasting Room in Downtown Forestville and keep an eye out for their event, “Fridays in Forestville” where the Downtown Wineries in Forestville team up with a local Restaurant for a fun night of wine and food on periodical Friday evenings!  More events will pop up down the road.

For more information about Joseph Jewell Wines, and where to purchase their wine, please visit their website.


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Spending a Day at Lundberg Family Farms!

Disclosure: We were invited on a Farm tour of the Sacramento Valley with California Farm Water Coalition.  During our tour, we spent an afternoon at Lundberg Family Farms.  This was my experience.

To be honest, prior to this tour, I never thought much about how rice was grown, or all that was involved in growing rice.  I also had no idea there were different quality of rices, but, looking back on all that rice is used for, throughout the cultures, I realize, it all makes sense now.

Coming from Minnesota, rice was often a part of our meals, and our Minnesota favorite was none other than Wild Rice, so when we stopped off at Lundberg Family Farms in the Sacramento Valley, I was pretty excited to learn more about Rice, see the rice fields, and of course, learn a bit more about Rice Cakes!

A few facts about Lundberg Family Farms:


  1. The Lundberg’s originated from Nebraska (midwest ties! yay!)

They trace their roots back to 1937, when Albert and Frances Lundberg moved to California from Nebraska. Albert had seen the ravages of the Dustbowl that resulted from poor soil management and short-sighted farming techniques. After moving the family to Northern California’s fertile Sacramento Valley, he impressed upon his four sons the need to care for the soil.

2.  Upon moving to California, Albert gave his 4 sons each a farm to maintain.

3. The sons realized that they were better farmers working together, as opposed to on their own so they combined their resources, and truly this is how Lundberg Family Farms was born. It was in the 1960’s when the sons realized they needed to begin selling their unconventional rice methods to the general public.  To this day, Lundberg Family Farms is continually combining their resources and working together as a family.

4.  At Lundberg Family Farms, they don’t grow typical conventional rice. All of their Certified Organic and Eco-Farmed rice is grown with a concern for the environment. They treat the soil, air, and water as important resources, respecting the delicate balances of nature. They are also a complete organic farm!


One of the original tractors that Albert brought with him over from Nebraska.  This tractor sits upon the entrance of Lundberg Family Farms.

Now, about that Rice:


When we first entered Lundberg Family Farms, we were greeted by Bryce Lundberg.  He walked us through the test kitchen, then we were brought into one of their meeting rooms where we got to try their NEW product, “Salted Caramel Rice Cakes,” and let me tell you folks, if you’re looking for a lift me up snack, this rice cake will do just the trick!

After trying the new product, we were brought outside where buckets of rice were in front of us:

Paddy Rice, Hulls, White Rice, Brown Rice, Hulls, and more!  This is where Grant explained to us, the process of rice making, how white rice comes from brown rice,etc.  To sum it up: You start with the grain coming out of the field (see the photo above, the picture on the left is rice straight from the fields!) They bring it in, then get the paddy rice from that.  They then remove the hulls from the paddy rice, leaving the brown rice behind!  And then, they remove the hulls of the brown rice to become white rice.  It was quite informative, and who knew all this happened from one grain of rice coming out of the field!

We were then shuttled into a Golf Cart where Bryce took us by the Rice Fields, showing us all the different varieties of Rice they grew at Lundberg Family Farms:


From Medium Grain to Long Grain to more refined rice.  I never knew there were so many varietals of rice, or, maybe I did, but never thought about it!

We then took a facility tour of their Rice Cake Factory, and Bryce explained to us the process of how Rice Cakes were made.  It would have been awesome if the machines were in action, but because it was the weekend, the machines weren’t running that day!


Bryce Lundberg explaining the Rice Cake making process to us at Lundberg Family Farms.  Can you believe, 4 Rice Cakes are made every minute? And the fact that machines can make the rice cakes so perfectly round, without breaking? Even more impressive, I can barely get a rice cake out of the package without breaking!

After our facility tour, there was still more to be seen as Bryce then lead us out to his Rice Fields, and where the biggest surprise yet was waiting:


They were starting to harvest one of their rice fields (jasmine rice) with their combine! And guess what? Each of us was getting an opportunity to ride in the combine.  How cool is that?  Truly, this was a memory I’d never forget!!

Image may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoor

Thanks to Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen for capturing this moment as I climbed into the Combine!

Not only that, after my combine experience, Bryce looked over at me, as we were in our little golf cart and asked if I wanted to drive us back towards the front of the field? At that point, I was feeling a little more daring, so I said, “sure, why not!”   rice-field-driving

Proof that I was in the driver’s seat, and more proof, the passengers survived: Gary House from cooking-outdoors, and Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen, and Bryce too!

Needless to say, it was one incredible experience and afternoon at Lundberg Family Farms! Truly something I will never forget.

I look forward to sharing some future rice recipe posts with you, and Lundberg Family Farm has made me an everyday consumer because of their graciousness throughout the day! They also reminded me of all  of their amazing products available!

Check out all their products available here.

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Best Wine Tasting Passports Out There in 2017 in Napa and Sonoma!

Happy New Year Everyone! I love a new year, it gets me excited for what’s ahead for the year.  It’s also a good time to think about that year’s travel and where you want to go, and of course, a good time, to start looking at the best deals out there for your passions.

For me, that includes Wine Tasting, and wine exploring all the great California Wine Regions.  With that being said, during the winter months, there’s often some great passport programs available to help make the most of your wine exploration!

The winter is a GREAT time to go wine tasting too because the tasting rooms are a lot less crowded, giving you a more one on one experience with your wine tasting: truly a win-win! This is the time of the year when you will find me in the tasting rooms!

So, with that being said: Here’s some GREAT Passport Programs Happening Now to Get you PSYCHED for the Year ahead:

Calistoga’s: Winter in the Wineries Passport:

Truly! This is the best Winter Deal: This has become an annual tradition in Calistoga.  I’ve participated in this passport program the previous 2 years, and loved it.

Calistoga is the northern most town of the Napa Valley, their main street has adorable tasting rooms and boutiques to shop in, along with great restaurants and inns.  Also, if you’ve ever wanted to experience a mud bath, you come to Calistoga to do so!

But with that being said, this passport program is a great deal: From December 3 through February 5, your passport will give you tasting flights at 15 Tasting Rooms throughout the Calistoga area for only 50 dollars! YES: Only 50 Dollars! You get your money back by your third tasting! Every year the Tasting Rooms are a little bit different but this year includes tastings at: Castello Di Amorosa, Chateau Montelena, Maldonado, Fairwinds Estate, August Briggs, Lava Vine, Laura Michael, T-Vine, and many more tasting rooms and wineries in the area!

Along with the 15 Tasting Rooms, they also have discounts at Downtown Calistoga Restaurants, Shops and Inns in the area making it the perfect getaway escape!

Saint Helena’s Little Book of Big Experiences:

Little Book of Big Experiences

So, this passport program started this past November and goes all the way through March 2017!  For just 100 Dollars, you get 25 different experiences that include wine tastings, foodie experiences, and discounts on inns in the area!

Tasting experiences include top spots such as: Freemark Abbey, Charles Krug, Beringer, and many more experiences. A full list of the experiences can be found here.  These are truly one of kind experiences, and St. Helena has truly pulled out ALL the stops in this passport program!

Truthfully: This is the passport I’m supporting this year because of the incredible experiences available, and for me to explore more of the Saint Helena area!

Sonoma Passport 2017:

an image of the Sonoma Passport

The start of the year is ALWAYS a great time to buy a year-long passport, especially if you do a lot of wine tasting, and frequent an area often.

That’s why the Sonoma Passport is worth it: For just 59 dollars, this passport lasts an entire year!  So, if you purchase now, you have 12 months of use, talk about a GREAT deal.

The passport includes 2 for 1 tastings at many local wineries in the area, along with discounts on bottle purchases.  And there are some complimentary tastings in the passport, as well.  A great investment, especially if you’re a couple!  You just need to buy one passport for two.

Do a Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Card:

If you are headed to Napa for a weekend getaway, or even longer, purchasing the Downtown Wine Tasting Card is a great deal to have in your back pocket: For just 15 Dollars, this wine tasting card will get you tastings for 1/2 off in all 12 of the Napa Tasting Rooms in Downtown! This tasting card lasts the entire year too!

Park the car at your Downtown Inn, and walk through the tasting rooms of Downtown in a safe and casual way!  Plus, shop at the adorable boutiques along the way, and enjoy some of the great restaurants in the area while saving over 150 Dollars in savings.

Russian River Inns:

Sometimes, when doing your research, you run across a GREAT deal, and often times, great inns in an area will offer complimentary tasting cards or passports during your stay.  This is the EXACT case when you book with the Russian River Inns, upon booking, you will receive a complimentary tasting card/passport to over 120 wineries in the area.  Talk about a GREAT deal, and the perfect excuse for a nice getaway in 2017.

The Wine Road:


Sonoma County’s Wine Road has great events throughout the year include: Winter Wineland, Barrel Tasting Weekends, and their November Wine and Food Affair event.

However, throughout the year, they also have a 1 Day (30 Dollars) or 3 Day Tasting Ticket (60 dollars) to the Wine Road Wineries and Tasting Rooms that will offer you complimentary tastings and/or discounts with these tickets.

Just keep in mind when purchasing these tickets that you may need to make separate tasting appointments for the wineries you want to visit during your stay. Also, pay close attention to the blackout dates where these tickets won’t be accommodated. BUT, this is highly recommended when planning a vacation getaway to Sonoma County!




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