Refrigerated rail operator Railex will spend up to $20 million to build a 500,000-square-foot bonded wine storage and distribution center next to its transload center in Wallula, Wash.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates signed a long-term lease for the lion’s share of the wine services distribution center, which is scheduled to open in February. The winery also reached a deal with Railex to transport its domestic and import wines throughout the U.S. This represents a significant expansion of the current work Railex manages on behalf of the wine company.
“Ste. Michelle is an expert at growing grapes and making wine,” said Rob McKinney, vice president of operations. “Although we have expertise with transportation and distribution issues, we determined that our business has grown to a scale that requires a third-party logistics partner.”
The warehouse will offer refrigerated, humidity-controlled storage plus numerous efficiencies to manage inventory and transportation logistics to better respond to customer requests.
The company operates three distribution facilities, which are linked by refrigerated perishable unit trains, in Wallula; Delano, Calif.; and Rotterdam, N.Y. The hubs will transfer finished goods from the heart of wine country to retailers nationwide or imported wines from an eastern port to the warehouse in Wallula.
Railex guarantees five-day rail transit from both West Coast locations to New York. A Southeast location, expected to open in 2013, also will offer five-day rail transit from the West Coast.