J. Bookwalter in Richland, Washington has named Jeremy Santo as head winemaker. The hiring comes as the winery prepares to move into a new facility.

“I’m excited about having Jeremy on board,” says John Bookwalter, president of the 50,000 case per year winery. “We continue to grow, modestly, and I needed a winemaker that could accommodate the growth. Jeremy has had a lot of success working at [our] scale.”

Santo joined the Washington wine industry in 2003, first working as a lab technician at Snoqualmie Winery. In 2006, he joined Ste Michelle Wine Estate‘s Canoe Estate Ridge Winery, where he eventually became assistant winemaker. In 2012, Santo joined Wahluke Wine Company, where he was responsible for the Ryan Patrick wines. Most recently, he was winemaker at Mercer Estates, overseeing production at the 60,000 case per year winery.

“Having grown up in Prosser, the interest for me [in Bookwalter], it’s been there forever,” Santo says. “The winery has such a great heritage, the grape sourcing is amazing, and the Bookwalter quality is through the roof. It’s a great thing to walk into.”

Santo will also soon be walking into a brand new winery. Bookwalter is in the midst of completing a 20,000-square foot building that will include a production space, a new tasting room, and indoor and outdoor event spaces. The winery will start moving into the new building next month.

“I’ve always said qualitatively we can move the needle a few points just by changing the way we handle our wines,” Bookwalter says. “We’ve always been a bit challenged because of the diverse use of our building and storage areas. This is going to make a big difference for us.”

In addition to its winery, J. Bookwalter also has an attached restaurant, Fiction. As the winery and tasting room move to the new building, the restaurant will gain space.

“It adds about 4,000 square feet,” Bookwalter says. “Ultimately we’ll be able to move the kitchen around so we have more space for the kitchen and that area becomes a banquet area. We’ll be doing it in phases.”

J. Bookwalter was founded by Jerry Bookwalter in 1982. Bookwalter had overseen plantings at some of Washington’s oldest vineyards and also managed Connor Lee Vineyard. His son John subsequently joined the winery in 1997 and has since grown it to be one of Washington’s most successful producers.

Santo follows Caleb Foster, who left the winery earlier this spring after seven years as winemaker.

Image of Jeremy Santo by Richard Duval.