INSPIRED • STYLISH • GENERATIONAL
A FAMILY HERITAGE
The story of J. Bookwalter winery is one of family heritage, deep roots and a centuries-old commitment to the land.
Ten generations of the Bookwalter family have been involved in American agriculture. But it was Jerry Bookwalter, generation nine and father of current company president John Bookwalter, who led the family into viticulture. After graduating from UC-Davis in 1963, Jerry spent 13 years farming in California’s San Joaquin Valley before moving his family in 1976 to the Tri-Cities in Washington State.
Once there, he firmly stamped the Bookwalter name on the state’s nascent wine industry. From 1976 through 1982, Jerry helped manage the plantings of three iconic vineyards – Sagemoor, Bacchus and Dionysus.
He eventually became vineyard manager of the famed Conner Lee Vineyard which remains the largest source of grapes for J. Bookwalter wines. And in 1982, he leveraged his vineyard connections and industry knowledge to start J. Bookwalter winery.
Jerry’s son John quite literally grew up in the vineyards of Eastern Washington, but left in the late 1980s to pursue a successful 10-year sales and marketing career with E&J Gallo, Winterbrook Beverage Group and Coors Brewing Co. In 1997, he returned to Richland with a keen understanding of the winery’s heritage and a clear vision for its future.
Since then, John has made sweeping changes to improve and expand the J. Bookwalter brand.
He hired world-renowned consulting winemakers Zelma Long and Claude Gros to support the company’s winemaking efforts and introduced a sleek new brand identity and award-winning packaging.
In 2014, John turned over most of the winemaking responsibilities to Caleb Foster, who is recognized as one of the top winemakers in the United States by multiple industry experts and publications.
The winery’s flagship tasting room in Richland, named one of the best tasting rooms in the United States by Sunset magazine, now includes a renowned, full-service restaurant, Fiction. J. Bookwalter also operates an attractive, modern tasting studio in Woodinville.
Today, J. Bookwalter has grown from one of Washington’s oldest wineries into one of Pacific Northwest’s most recognized boutique wine brands, relying on exceptional vineyard sources and meticulous winemaking to produce some of the world’s finest wines.
Acclaimed winemaker Caleb Foster joined J. Bookwalter in 2014 as head winemaker and general manager.
Foster has been cited as one of the top winemakers in the United States by Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, The New York Times and multiple industry publications. In 2013, he was named one of the top 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers by Michael Cervin at IntoWine.com.
At J. Bookwalter, Foster has been responsible for some of the winery’s finest wines, including the 2015 Readers cabernet sauvignon which in 2018 was named one of the top 100 wines in the world by Wine Spectator magazine.
A graduate of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Foster worked for eight years at Woodward Canyon and spent one vintage at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
In 2000, Foster teamed with his former wife Nina Buty to start Buty Winery, which became one of Washington’s most prestigious ultra-premium boutique wineries. Buty was named Winery of the Year in 2012 by Wine & Spirits magazine and Winery of the Year in 2011 by both Seattle and Food & Wine magazines.
CORPORATE GIVING & COMMUNITY SUPPORT
At J. Bookwalter, we are committed to supporting our community and Washington state wines.
All of our talk about literacy and literature is more than just a marketing metaphor or a play on our name. We believe in the power of education and the importance of reading and literacy. In short, we walk our talk through corporate giving and community involvement.
We support numerous local charities that align with our charitable mission by allocating a portion of our business proceeds to organizations such as The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia, Hugo House in Seattle, the King County Library System Foundation and the Columbia Basin College Scholarship Foundation, among others.
Additionally, John Bookwalter and other members of our team are active in our Tri-Cities community, serving on boards and committees of community groups such as Visit Tri-Cities and the Tri-City Cancer Center.
J. Bookwalter strongly supports Washington State’s robust wine industry. John has served as chair of the Washington State Wine Commission and in 2020 and 2021, John and his wife Gretchen will serve as honorary co-chairs of the Auction of Washington Wines, one of the largest charity wine auctions in the United States.