Katarina Bonde

Katarina Bonde

West Wines (Winemaker & Owner)

Katarina Bonde, a native of Sweden, began her higher education in 1977, when she spent a year on a scholarship at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, taking courses in Math and Social Sciences. Upon her return to Sweden, she enrolled at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, earning an MSc degree there in 1983 with majors in Physics and Mathematics. After working professionally in Sweden for nearly a decade, she and her husband, Bengt Akerlind, found their way to the U.S. and were employed in Seattle’s burgeoning internet technology industry.

They purchased a 60-acre vineyard in Sonoma County as a vacation property in 1998, initially selling the fruit produced there. In 2002 they launched their own brand, West Wines, located in Healdsburg. They initially hired Julia Iantosca as their winemaker, and she was followed by Phyllis Zouzounis in 2008. Katarina did not like delegating the winemaking to others, however, so she enrolled in the Winemaking Certificate program at the University of California, Davis, in 2008 and completed it in 2012. Making West Wines is now her own “baby.”

The wines produced at West Wines include European-style crisp and lush white wines and well-aged complex red wines. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is aged for two years in French oak barrels and then bottle-stored for at least an additional four years before being released. Notably, this wine was selected for the Nobel Prize Banquet in 2010, the first time an American wine was so honored. All the wines of West Wines, which include Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay in addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and red blends, are made from estate-grown fruit. But Katarina’s production of delectable beverages doesn’t stop with wine: her Swedish heritage is exemplified by the annual glögg party that takes place on the first weekend following Thanksgiving.

Katarina somehow finds the time to use her business acumen as Chairman or Director of the Board of several firms, both domestic and international.