Northwest Wine Industry To Get Boost From Rail Shipping Expansion

Jul 19, 2012

A company that ships Northwest produce to East Coast markets by rail plans an expansion that will benefit the region's wineries. Railex has reached an agreement with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to build a massive wine storage warehouse in southeast Washington.

Agricultural products from Washington, Oregon and Idaho come into Railex’s Wallula facility by truck. They wait in temperature controlled storage areas until they’re shipped out on rail cars.

The new $20 million warehouse -- about 11 football fields under one roof -- will dramatically increase the region’s ability to ship out wine. Railex will store bottles in temperature controlled conditions until cases are sold and shipped by train or truck.

“We think we are going to be able to open up the East Coast in a more cost effective method to a lot of different wineries,” says Jim Kleist, who runs Railex’s West Coast operations.

Kleist says Ste. Michelle will rent the bulk of the warehouse, but there will be room for other wineries too. The facility is scheduled to open early in 2013.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio

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