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Review of Bookwalter Winery

Bookwalter Winery
Ranked #1 of 6 Nightlife in Richland
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Attraction details
Owner description: Tastings available from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The story of J. Bookwalter Winery is a story 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.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access
Richland, Washington
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed September 17, 2012

Drank their chardonay before we discovered Bernard Griffin!!! They have a very nice patio area....it's especially fine in the evening coolness with a glass of slightly chilled wine.

Thank missmccoy123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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70 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Waipahu, Hawaii
Level 6 Contributor
134 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Excellent wine and food”
Reviewed August 23, 2012

Wine tasting was fabulous. Favorites are Notebook Red, Dessert wine and Antagonist. Jason is the best!
Food -
Sashimi -- excellent
Won Tons -- excellent
Black and Blue Ahi -- excellent
Tuscan Flatbread -- excellent
This is a must do! Of the many wineries in the area - our favorite by far

Visited August 2012
Thank Cattayhi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
108 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 117 helpful votes
“The best restaurant in town is not a restaurant, it is this winery”
Reviewed August 7, 2012

I have been traveling to the tri-cities area for years and have lost count of all the soul crushing meals at places such as PF Changs, Anthony's Homeport, Red Robin, the Outback, and I even tried the conveyor belt sushi place (yuk). But on a reccomendation I tried the Bistro at the Winery.

I hesitate to say this because the next time I come out I want to be able to get a seat, but WOW!!! Truly, no exageration; you could drop that restaurant (attached to the tasting rooom) down anywhere; Seattle, LA, etc., and it would be a must try. First, the food was done really, really well. I had an appetizer, salad, and dinner. All were cooked perfectly. It is interesting how a salad can be a cannary in a coal mine. It is so easily done poorly and I suggest, a window into whether the kitchen knows what they are doing. Too often the kitchen thinks "more is better" and you end up with an overdressed, soaking wet, hodge-podge of "stuff" as though you sent your 10 year old through the buffet. I had the least expensive salad on the menu, I believe it was called simply the J bistro salad, and it was perfect. Perfectly dressed, nice combination of elements, well sized.

And of course, as this is a winery after all, the wine was excellent as well. As you should expect, all of the wine was the Bookwalter wine but there was also prosecco (I know that is misspelled but, sorry, I don't feel like looking it up right now) as well as champagne and beer.

Finally, the setting was lovely. The indoor seating was intimate and well done. There is ample seating outside that looks out over the lawn. I ate outside. It was really memorable.

Don't be put off by the fact it is a winery or only slightly away from the core. It is only 5 minutes from the mall and if you did not know you were at a winery it would appear to be any other nice restaurant. Speaking with John Bookwalter I suggest this is something he takes a lot of pride in and wants it to be more than an afterthought to the tasting room. This is really something special.

I should also add that the service was attentive and good.

Finally, I do respectfully disagree with one of the other reviews that "the prices are a bit high." Perhaps if you are judging them against Tony Romas (which, sadly, is the number one rated tri-cities restaurant on trip advisor - wow, get it together tri cities !) then you might think it is expensive. But I well assure you, these prices are actually LOW for the quality of product and preparation you are getting.

Major kudos to both John for having the vision to have this type of restaurant and to the chef for pulling it off.

PS: Sorry for not rating this as the "attraction" it is listed under. I went for the bistro, not the tasting room. But, I can say that the grounds are really quite lovely and I suspect if they put the same level of care into the tastings that they do the restaurant, that it would be great experience as well.

Visited August 2012
1 Thank WashingtonTravel_001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richland, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Pretty nice little winery”
Reviewed July 30, 2012

Overall I think my Bookwalter experience was pleasant. It can get a bit crowded, and the menu can change on you. Prices are a bit high, but the atmospher and service is great.

Visited March 2012
Thank clairique
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake Forest Park, WA
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Must Visit”
Reviewed July 28, 2012

Some of the better wines in the area and one of the few wineries that offer delicious food and a wonderful indoor/outdoor seating. Our best meals were here.

Visited July 2012
Thank MEsteban
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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