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.
At Bookwalter Winery, we have had the privilege of working with renowned winemakers to further our story of making the very best Washington Wine. John Bookwalter, Owner & President, has the palate and wine experience that drives our exquisite house style. Jerry Bookwalter, Zelma Long, Claude Gros, and Caleb Foster, just to name a few, have been a big part of our winemaking story, aiding and making the wines you know and love today. Since the announcement of Caleb Foster's departure in April 2021, Jeremy Santo has taken over as Head Winemaker in 2021 to continue J. Bookwalter's winemaking excellence.
Santo has deep roots and experience in Washington’s wine industry. Prior to joining J. Bookwalter, Santo was the Head Winemaker for Mercer Estates Winery from 2017 to 2021. While there, Santo was responsible for making one of Washington’s most celebrated red wines, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from Mercer that placed 73rd on Wine Spectator’s 2020 list of top 100 wines in the world. Santo got his start in Washington’s wine industry in 2003 as a lab technician at Snoqualmie Winery. In 2006, he joined Canoe Ridge Estate Winery as an enologist and eventually was promoted to assistant winemaker. He left Canoe Ridge in 2012 for Wahluke Wine Company, where he became Head Winemaker for Ryan Patrick Winery. Santo is a native of eastern Washington and attended Washington State University. He lives in West Pasco with his wife Michelle and their two children.
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.