What we’re drinking: Bookwalter Winery

Mary writes:

My last wine tour had a bunch of us walking around Woodinville. There is a boatload of wonderful wineries there, including an old, old favorite of mine.

A pioneer (1983!) of the Washington wine industry, Jerry Bookwalter, like many of Washington’s wine pioneers, migrated from California after years of working in the wine and agricultural industries. Bookwalter managed a couple of large corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley before being recruited in 1976 to plant and manage Washington State’s Bacchus, Dionysus and Sagemoor Vineyards.

In 1983, Bookwalter Winery was established in Richland. The first wines were gold medal winners. The streak continued when Bookwalter Winery was recognized as one of three Washington Wineries to watch.

In 1997, son John started working with the family business after more than 10 years selling beverages for Seattle area distributors. Having a background in marketing, John found Zelma Long to do some consulting at Bookwalter. Zelma has a phenomenal reputation in the wine industry having worked for 30 years to put Simi Winery on the wine map. Success with their 2000 Columbia Valley Merlot as one of five Washington Merlots to score 90 points or higher was proof that things were going very well.

In 2002, the winery opened Washington’s first wine lounge in Richland, pairing Bookwalter wines with hand crafted cheeses.

They also have a presence in Woodinville, making it easier for those of us on the west side of the state to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They can be found at the Woodinville Tasting Studio, an open air picnic lounge that is both relaxing and educational at the same time.

Bookwalter Winery produces wonderful whites and classic reds. Here’s a few to become acquainted with:

Foreshadow 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: With its wonderful aromas of red fruits and herbs, this wine is so well balanced and rich with cherries and raspberries and balanced by herbs and acidity.

Protagonist 2010: Another mostly cabernet/merlot blend, with a touch of syrah from a very cold vintage, which translates to balanced fruit sweetness and lower alcohol than wines from hotter years. Less fruit sugars to turn into alcohol. Lots of cherries and raspberries in the nose and on the palate with a bit of herbs and mocha.

And I can’t tell you enough to try the Riesling. Remember old wines make great wines. Bookwalter has been making very good Riesling for almost 30 years.

Snag a bottle and save it for shrimp season. You’ll see what I mean.