Ste Michelle Wine Estates and Railex LLC are teaming up to create the first temperature-controlled rail-based system to transport wine efficiently and sustainably across the United States.
The project’s cornerstone is a new Wine Services Distribution Center that will be built adjacent to Railex’s existing transload center in Wallula WA. Railex will invest $18 million to $20 million to build and operate the 500,000-square-foot bonded wine storage and distribution center. It is scheduled to open February 2013.
Ste Michelle has signed a long-term lease for the majority of the warehouse footprint and also will contract with Railex to transport its domestic and import wines throughout the United States. This represents an expansion of the work Railex is managing on behalf of the wine company.
The Railex Wine Services Distribution Center will offer refrigerated, humidity-controlled storage plus efficiencies to manage inventory and transportation logistics to better respond to customer requests.
The company operates three distribution facilities linked by a refrigerated perishable unit train that is the first to be marketed to the food and beverage industry. The Wallula, Delano CA, and Rotterdam NY 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, which is planned to open in 2013, also will offer five-day rail transit from the West Coast.
The company has worked with the US Environmental Protection Agency to quantify its impact on the environment. Since 2006, Railex has reduced diesel fuel consumption by 45 million gallons and CO2 emissions by 900,000 metric tons.
Founded in 2006 as a distribution platform, Railex links manufacturers, shippers, retailers, and distributors via consistent, fast, and “green” refrigerated transportation. The platform uses a hybrid of short-haul, consolidation/deconsolidation centers and an expedited refrigerated rail system.
Ste Michelle, based outside of Seattle WA, has a history dating back to 1934. Wines under its label were first introduced in 1967, and since that time the company has expanded its vineyard holdings to more than 3,700 acres in Washington and California.