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Monday, Sep. 26, 2011

Washington company building $5.5 million wine warehouse

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- A $5.5 million warehouse in Benton County is going to help Vintners Logistics better serve Columbia Valley wineries.

The Kennewick warehousing and transportation company plans to move from its four rented warehouses in Kennewick and Pasco into a Badger Canyon warehouse that is under construction near Interstate 82.

That will help the company become more efficient, while allowing room to expand services and the facility without having to move again, said owner Robert Thompson.

The family-operated company has about 12 full-time employees, and Vintners Logistics works with about 300 wineries, nearly all of them in Washington, Thompson said.

The new warehouse is being built on six acres at 103612 E. Wiser Parkway by Conner Construction of Kennewick. The floor of the warehouse was being poured this week, and Thompson said he expects to be able to move in by the end of the year.

Although the company's focus is warehousing, Thompson said they have a fleet of trucks with refrigerated trailers that are used to ship wine across the United States.

Wine needs to be store at 55 degrees to avoid spoilage, he said.

The new warehouse will have 60,000 square feet refrigerated. The remaining 20,000 square feet also can be refrigerated, Thompson said.

The warehouse also will be free of trichloroanisole (TCA), the chemical compound responsible for cork taint, which ruins wine, he said.

Thompson said he got the idea for Vintners Logistics while working in the beer and wine industry for about 20 years. He was a logistics manager for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and saw the need to provide services to the wine industry.

Vintners Logistics also stores other items for wineries, food processors and snack food industry, from materials to finished goods. They haul wine grapes and barrels in addition to the finished products.

And Vintners Logistics offers value-added services such as placing award labels onto wine bottles or repackaging chips. About 20 to 30 temporary employees work on those projects.

Thompson owns the company with his wife, Shari, and their sons Michael and Derek work in the business.