Full Name
Joseph Spellman
Job Title
JUSTIN Vineyards/Landmark VIneyards
Speaker Bio
Joseph Spellman is Master Sommelier and national spokesman for JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery of Paso Robles, Calif., and Landmark Vineyards of Sonoma, Calif. He has been professionally engaged with wine as a sommelier and wine director in numerous Chicago restaurant cellars, including Tango, Maxim’s, The Pump Room, La Tour at Park Hyatt Chicago, and Charlie Trotter’s. He has also previously been a wine educator in wine retail, wholesale, and importing companies, as well as the Napa Valley producer Joseph Phelps Vineyards. He has been a writer, and consultant, and has led seminars on the geology, language, and history of wine.

Joseph earned the prestigious Master Sommelier Diploma, the 29th American to do so, in 1996. He is a frequent instructor and examiner in the Court of Master Sommeliers, and from 2005-2008 was Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court. He passed the difficult Certified Wine Educator Examination in 2003 and has studied in the Master of Wine Diploma program with its top instructors.

A pinnacle achievement was winning the international 1997 French Sommelier Competition in Paris sponsored by SOPEXA, and the title “Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines and Spirits.” He is only the second American to have done so. In 1998 he was named the Bon Appetit Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year.

Joseph is a major supporter of the arts, serving as an active member in the Lyric Opera Wine Auction Advisory Board. He has led seminars for the Chicago Humanities Festival, various educational and health-oriented charities, and numerous student groups. His donations of tastings for arts, education, and medical charities have consistently fetched high bids for these deserving organizations. A theatre lover, he consulted in 2003 on an original script by Sharon Evans, “Blind Tasting,” at Live Bait Theatre in Chicago.

Among his professional written works, he is most proud of his critically praised wine notes featured in the landmark series of recipe and photography books by Chef Charlie Trotter in the 1990s. He was the principal wine writer of the 2003, 2006, and 2009 Lyric Opera Auction Catalogues. He also has written grape descriptions for the Wine Grapes posters produced by Ten Speed Press; and over the years he has contributed to the magazines Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Santé, Decanter, and Appellation.

As a professional palate, he has tasted for Beverage Testing Institute, United Airlines, the Grand Jury Européen, the Oregon State Fair, StarWine, the Jefferson Cup, TEXSOM, and the Detroit Wine Competition. He has coordinated several wine dinners for the James Beard Foundation and many of its chef-contributors, as well as promotional and charity wine dinners around the US. He has presented at wine festivals in Aspen, Pebble Beach, Kohler, Kapalua, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Santa Fe, Taos, Telluride, San Diego, Carmel, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Pinehurst, Connecticut, Nantucket, Disney, TEXSOM, Newport Beach, and Chicago. Joe also likes architecture, movies, and beer.
Joseph Spellman