Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
07.09.2014  
 

Bookwalter Mirrors Washington Industry

Tri-Cities winery strengthens management as business grows

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
“Bookwalter”
 
As Bookwalter Winery owner John Bookwalter says, “Growth is good, but it has to be tempered and smart growth.”
Richland, Wash.—Bookwalter Winery in the Columbia Valley is more than a winery, as visitors to its tasting room and restaurant overlooking the Yakima River on the slopes east of Richland know.

Winery owner John Bookwalter opened Fiction, a full service restaurant with nightly entertainment, 2.5 years ago as a sequel to the popular J Bistro, which serves a range of tapas and grilled entrees. Situated just off the tasting room in a building adjacent to the winery’s production facility, the restaurant was visible proof of the evolution taking place the Washington state wine industry.

“We’ve expanded to what the marketplace demanded both locally and regionally and nationally,” owner John Bookwalter told Wines & Vines this week. “Growth is good, but it has to be tempered and smart growth.”

Fresh blood
The range of activities at Bookwalter’s Richland facility alone—not to mention the winery’s six-year-old tasting studio in Woodinville (which launched its own food-service operation last year)—meant that the winemaker has been pulled in many directions.

“The expansion of our business over time necessitated us bringing in what I call ‘bench strength,’” he said. “The marketplace needs more support from a sales standpoint, which I had fulfilled very softly as I was doing so many jobs. As we’ve grown the business, I need to pay more attention not only to the wholesale part, but I’m always looking to strive to create higher quality wines at the upper-end, and that just requires more full-time attention.”

Those requirements prompted Bookwalter to announce this week that Caleb Foster will be coming on board July 14 to oversee winemaking.

With the departure of his long-time assistant winemaker Travis Maple, Bookwalter saw a chance to review and rejigger management to consolidate and focus oversight of the winery and its several divisions.

    CORRECTION
     

     
    A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Caleb Foster and Nina Buty sold Buty Winery in 2012. Nina Buty still owns the winery. Wines & Vines regrets the error.
Foster, who started his own eponymous winery Caleb Foster Wines LLC at Bookwalter in 2000, is best known for Buty Winery, which he developed with Nina Buty. Foster became a consulting winemaker for Delicato Family Vineyards’ Double Canyon Vineyards project.

Now, he’s made the leap to Bookwalter, where he’ll oversee production with the assistance of consulting winemaker Claude Gros and input from Bookwalter.

The move will allow Bookwalter, who joined the family-run winery in 1997 after sales and marketing roles at E. & J. Gallo and Coors Brewing Co. and has also chaired the Washington State Wine Commission, to focus on managing and developing the business.

“It was a rare window of opportunity to grab somebody like that, and his skill set,” Bookwalter said of Foster. “And I think it’s a great time to step back and look at the next five, 10, 15 years and figure out how we’re going to deliver on our promise of high-quality wines at various price points.”

The future
Bookwalter has already drafted a preliminary plotline for the future of the Richland winery, which sits on 10 acres of commercial land.

The growth of the winery to annual production in the range of 30,000 cases has stretched the existing facility, and the addition of the restaurant operation has put further pressure on the existing infrastructure.

The answer?

“We’re looking at creating a full warehouse and production facility and tasting room…so I can separate the tasting room from the restaurant,” he said. “Right now they cohabitate, and I think it’s confusing sometimes. It will create a clear division….It will allow me to expand production if that’s the direction we decide to go.”

Bookwalter said the new production facility would allow warehousing onsite (it currently occurs offsite) and a maximum capacity of 50,000 cases—a boon in the state’s capacity-constrained industry (see “Adding Wine Capacity in Washington”).

The plans also call for a 10-room inn, adding to guest services.

“There’s a lot of projects coming our way right now as well as the restaurant operations,” Bookwalter said. “We’ve been bursting at the seams for some time, so it’s just a logical move.”

By strengthening management, the winery will also address one of the key pitfalls growing companies face. Many companies grow too quickly, and lose a grip on issues that eventually become their Achilles’ heel.

Fortunately, the current sales environment appears to be favoring Bookwalter.

The winery is distributed by Young’s Market Co., which means shifts in the retail landscape of Washington state in the past three years have been beneficial.

“We were given the opportunity to do more business on-premise and off-premise because we were one of their smaller wineries, and their ability to deliver the business,” he said.

While some smaller wholesalers and self-distributed wineries have experienced “collateral damage” from the shifts taking place, Bookwalter said Young’s has provided effective representation and expanded his reach—something he doesn’t take for granted.

“Fortunately, I was with the right distributor at the right time,” he said.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 $562 million
5%
$7,549 million
6%
June 2013 $535 million $7,094 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 $87 million
17%
$1,669 million
11%
June 2013 $74 million $1,510 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
June 2014 300
34%
220
21%
June 2013 224 182
     
 
MORE » Released on 07.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wines & Vines
Packaging Conference
 
Learn More »
 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • July 24-27
     
    Taste our Terroir
     
  • July 25-27
     
    International Pinot Noir Celebration
     
  • July 26
     
    Introduction to Wine Analysis
     
  • July 26-27
     
    Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Roundup is not benign. It does not always break down in a day or two...
Reader: Robert Rex
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Mitigating water use in the vineyard in the first place is also an applicable tactic....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Resistant Weeds Threaten Vineyards »
 
Having managed vineyards that have used both approaches, I would say that a diverse approach...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Educator/Host
 Rutherford, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Fine Wine And Craft Sp...
 Park City-Slc, UT
Sales and Marketing
 Grower Relations Admin...
 Hopland, CA
General Administration and
 Bulk Wine Analyst
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Supply Chain Customer ...
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Line Supervisor
 Napa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Microbiologist/Sanitar...
 St. Helena, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Facilities Welder/Fabr...
 Geyserville, CA
General Administration and
 Harvest Intern
 Newberg, OR
Winemaking and Production
 Assistant Winemaker
 Cave Junction, OR
Winemaking and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.