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Walla Walla sits in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in the southeastern corner of Washington State. The Walla Walla Valley has over 1,800 acres of grapes growing next to fruit orchards and wheat fields, and the area is now home to over 125 wineries.
Bunchgrass Winery is the 11th bonded winery in Walla Walla Washington, producing our 1st vintage in 1997. Our name comes from a book of poems written by Northwest poet Robert Sund called “Bunch Grass”. The poems speak to the native landscapes, lifestyle, and culture of Eastern Washington State.
We produce approximately 600 cases of wine per vintage. The wines are handcrafted using time-honored techniques in small batches from exceptional vineyard sources. We offer an exciting range of red wines and one white wine. Our current portfolio includes two Bordeaux style red blends, and single variety, vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. We also experiment with Syrah and Rhone Valley style blends. Our white wine is a classic Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend.
Our winemaker Tom Olander is a Minnesota native and graduate of University of Minnesota. He left the snows of Minneapolis and relocated to sunny San Diego California to pursue a career in the restaurant business, eventually landing a position at the world famous Hotel del Coronado. His love of wine grew through his experience developing restaurant wine programs, building wine lists, and doing staff training for the restaurants he managed.
Tom’s next adventure was a well-timed move to Walla Walla Washington in 2001. Walla Walla’s wine industry was taking off and gaining national attention. While acting as general manager of the region’s top restaurant, Whitehouse-Crawford, Tom helped pioneer top-notch dining and hospitality in the Walla Walla Valley. He also studied enology and viticulture and became a certified sommelier. When Bunchgrass Winery’s founding winemaker Roger Cockerline sought retirement with the 2005 vintage, Tom was ready to step in as partner and winemaker. With Roger’s tutelage and support, he has continued to elevate Bunchgrass Winery’s reputation as a top producer of fine wines.
The success of Bunchgrass Winery and Tom’s efforts as winemaker would not be possible without the support of his long-time life and business partner Barb Commare. Barb and Tom met in Nashville Tennessee and moved to San Diego California and then to Walla Walla Washington together. Barb holds the operation together as business manager and compliance expert. When not working on winery operations, Barb can be found coaching the Walla Walla roller derby team.
The partnership team is rounded out by founding winemaker Roger Cockerline, and Gordy Venneri. Roger and Gordy continue to make enormous contributions mentoring Tom and Barb in winemaking and winery operations.
Bunchgrass Winery is housed in a quaint cinder block building that once served as the dairy for the Cockerline family farm. The facilities are surrounded by twelve acres of bucolic paradise, which border Mill Creek. The farm is home to abundant wildlife.
We hope you will visit us soon!