The Bookwalter family began tilling the soils of Europe well before the first generation stepped foot in the United States at the beginning of the 18th century. The name Bookwalter, descended from Bouch-Walder, is Swiss Mennonite and means "Tender of Beechwood Forests".
Frantz Bouch-Walder, the first generation to move to America came from Canton Jura, Switzerland, in 1709 and first purchased farm land in Pennsylvania known as "The Manavon Tract" from David Lloyd the first justice in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The Bookwalter family slowly migrated west spending many generations in the Midwest in and around Illinois and Nebraska always staying closely woven into the fabric of agriculture. Robert Bookwalter was the first generation to move to the west coast in the late 1920's and established his family and farming roots just outside of Modesto, California.
Jerrold Bookwalter, the son of Robert Bookwalter, graduated from UC Davis in 1963 with a dual degree in Agriculture Economics and Pomology (the study of fruits and nuts) and quickly employed his degree and farming experience in San Jose, California. After managing large corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley and owning his own farm in Atwater, California, Jerry was presented with the opportunity to manage the largest Vinifera planting of grapes in Washington State at Sagemoor, Bacchus and Dionysus vineyards in early 1976. Jerry successfully managed Sagemoor, Bacchus and Dionysus vineyards until 1982 when he resigned to start his own agricultural management company and grape brokering business.
Having worked with many of the pioneering winemakers from Washington as well as closely interacting with winemakers in California, Oregon and British Columbia, Jerry teamed up with a veteran Northwest winemaker to produce his first wines; Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc & Johannisberg Riesling in 1983. By 1984, Jerry began production of the red wines of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. By 1985, the winery was in need of an operations manager and Jerry's wife, Jean, took over the operations of the business. Jean's business skills and Jerry's innovation, winemaking and vineyard management skills kept the winery operating during the challenging early years in the Washington Wine Industry.
Breakthrough success began in 1994 when the Wine Spectator named Bookwalter winery as a Washington Winery to Watch along with Andrew Will and Quilceda Creek based upon several outstanding wines from the 1992 vintage. The 1994 vintage delivered more outstanding wines and several 90 point scores, best of shows and gold medals for the Cabernet and Reserve Cabernets. By the 1998 vintage, the red wines were listed as "Wines of the week" by both the Wine Spectator and the New York Times.
John Bookwalter, the son of Jean and Jerry Bookwalter joined the family winery in October of 1997 after 10 years of a successful career in beverage sales and marketing with Pepsi, Gallo, WinterBrook Beverage Group and the Coors Brewing Company. John is the 10th American generation of Bookwalters to be involved in and around agriculture and has focused his attention primarily on the production of ultra premium red wines. To produce the top red wines in Washington State, John quickly realized the need for world class winemaking and vineyard consulting. Timing and opportunity was on his side as Zelma Long had just retired from her illustrious corporate career that spanned nearly 30 years in the wine industry and passed through such Wineries as Mondavi and Simi Wineries in California. Zelma and John began their red winemaking venture with the 2000 vintage. Success was immediate with their first vine to wine effort as the 2000 Columbia Valley Merlot was one of only 5 Merlot's in Washington that scored 90 points or higher in Robert Parker's the Wine Advocate. The 2000 Cabernet also received high acclaim and scored 91 points in Anthony Gismondi's Wine Access Magazine.
Innovation has always been critical to the success of Bookwalter winery. The winery was the first in Washington State to produce a gold embossed, full color wine label and as well as a Charmat Bulk Sparkling Wine. Additionally , several of Jerry's early vintages were vineyard designated well before this trend was popularized. In 2002, the winery opened Washington's first wine lounge dedicated to the pairing of hand crafted regional cheeses, breads and Bookwalter wines by the glass enjoyed in a relaxing, contemporary atmosphere. The 20th anniversary of the winery brought about a sweeping, cutting edge package change that clearly communicates the next generation's style and commitment to the future.
The Bookwalter family roots are deep in agriculture and the Washington wine and viticulture industry. With several of the top vineyard sources in the state and a commitment to excellence in winemaking, Bookwalter winery is positioned to fulfill the growing demand for ultra premium wines from Washington State.
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