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New temperature-controlled rail-based wine transport system in US

Woodinville, Washington, DC, US: Wine company Ste Michelle Wine Estates and rail transport services provider Railex have teamed up to create a temperature-controlled rail-based system to transport wine efficiently and sustainably across the US.

The project includes the development of a new wine services distribution centre which will be built adjacent to Railex’s existing transload centre in Wallula, Washington. Railex is spending £11.6m – £12.9m) ( US$18m to $20m) to build and operate the 46,451 square metre bonded wine storage and distribution center-scheduled to open February 2013.

Ste Michelle has signed a long-term lease for the majority of the warehouse space and  will contract with Railex to transport its domestic and import wines throughout the US. This represents a significant expansion of the current work that Railex is managing on behalf of the wine company.

“Ste Michelle is an expert at growing grapes and making wine,” said Rob McKinney, Vice President of Operations, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “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 provider to manage our distribution requirements according to our exacting standards.”

The Railex wine services distribution centre will offer refrigerated, humidity-controlled storage plus numerous efficiencies to manage inventory and logistics to better respond to customer requests.

The company operates three, state-of-the art distribution facilities which are 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.

Jim Kleist, senior vice president, West Coast operations for Railex, says: “Our location in the heart of Washington wine country, the latest inventory control and warehouse management technologies and high speed refrigerated rail transportation will enable us to deliver wine quickly while maintaining the highest standards of quality.”