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Jeremy Santo joins J. Bookwalter as Head Winemaker

Posted on June 09, 2021

RICHLAND, Wash. (June 8, 2021) – Jeremy Santo has joined J. Bookwalter as head winemaker for the 50,000-case, Richland-based winery, the company announced today.

“We are thrilled to add someone of Jeremy’s caliber to our team here at J. Bookwalter,” company president John Bookwalter said. “We all know that Washington is a special place to make wine, and Jeremy has proven over and over that he understands how to bring out the best in Washington fruit.”

“I’m very excited to join the team at J. Bookwalter,” Santo said. “This is one of Washington’s benchmark wine brands and I’m honored to have the opportunity to contribute to its heritage and legacy going forward.”

Santo has deep roots and experience in Washington’s wine industry. Prior to joining J. Bookwalter, Santo was 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.

Expansion and growth at J. Bookwalter

Santo is part of some exciting changes at the winery, Bookwalter said.

“In addition to a new head winemaker, we are dramatically increasing our production capabilities this year,” he said. “We will complete our new, 20,000-square foot winery this fall that includes expanded production and storage capacity, a new tasting room, indoor and outdoor event spaces, and company offices. That will enable us to incorporate our existing tasting room into our on-site restaurant, Fiction, and grow our food service, banquet and special event offerings.”

J. Bookwalter is one of Washington’s oldest wineries, with roots stretching back to 1976 when John’s father Jerry moved to Richland to manage vineyards, including the famed Conner-Lee Vineyard which remains the largest source of grapes for J. Bookwalter wines.

In 1997, John Bookwalter joined the family business after a 10-year sales and marketing career with E&J Gallo, Winterbrook Beverage Group and Coors Brewing Co. Over the past two decades, he made sweeping changes to improve and grow the brand. Under John’s leadership, the company introduced a sleek new brand identity and award-winning packaging, and opened a full-service restaurant, Fiction, in Richland as well as an attractive, modern tasting studio in Woodinville.

Today, J. Bookwalter is one of Washington’s most recognized boutique wine brands with multiple awards and honors from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and the Wine Advocate as well as distribution and sales throughout the United States.

About J. Bookwalter

J. Bookwalter specializes in producing some of Washington’s finest wines through meticulous winemaking and exceptional vineyard sources. The winery’s tasting room in Richland includes a full-service restaurant, Fiction, and was named one of the best tasting rooms in the United States by Sunset magazine. J. Bookwalter also has a modern tasting studio in Woodinville.

For information about J. Bookwalter Winery, please see  

Region: Washington
Job Function: Winemaking

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