Giant Wine Shipping Hub to Open

Jackson Family's LEED-certified, rail-connected facility also can serve smaller California wineries

by Paul Franson
Jackson distribution center
This aerial view shows the scale of the massive new shipping center.

American Canyon, Calif. -- Although a mammoth new 650,000-square-foot distribution center and warehouse being completed in Napa County will consolidate all such activities for Jackson Family Wines, it will also benefit other wineries.

Jackson, the parent of Kendall-Jackson and many boutique brands, will occupy 475,000 square feet of the massive center, but Biagi Brothers, the industry’s largest wine transporter, will occupy 175,000 square feet, which it will use for other wine brands. This will allow the trucker to consolidate loads for efficient shipping by both truck and rail.

The facility represents a sizeable wager on the growing revival of rail for wine shipping. A new 1,600-foot spur and 14 railcar dock doors were installed to simplify loading the cars. Union Pacific serves the facility; it already carries wine from Trinchero’s major facility nearby and other wine companies.

Alternative text
Jackson and Biagi Brothers built a new spur
for shipping wines inexpensively by rail.

Rail is attracting increased attention from wine shippers because it’s so much more efficient than trucks. One railcar alone can hold as much as three large tractor-trailers, and of course, one railroad engine can pull numerous cars, with significant savings in fuel costs and carbon emissions.

Having a distribution center like this allows smaller wineries to combine shipments with others, including Kendall-Jackson, to take advantage of lower rates for rail.

The facility isn’t ignoring trucks, however. It contains 24 truck docks and has provision for 20 more. It also features a truck refueling station with a 12,000-gallon tank to save drivers time. (Jackson Family Wines and Biagi Brothers have also co-operated on an eco-friendly wine delivery service, VinLux.

The building, which equals almost 15 acres, occupies a 22-acre site at the end of Green Island Road in American Canyon. It’s the largest building in the city, which contains many other large warehouse and distribution centers, and could hold 10 Boeing 747s or 11 football fields. It can hold 5 million cases of wine.

The center was developed for Jackson and Biagi by Scannell Properties and built by contractor Sierra View Co.

The building will consolidate about 10 Jackson facilities including those in Santa Rosa, which doesn’t offer appropriate rail service at present. This includes a large office for Jackson’s distribution staff under Kathryn Zepaltas, director of distribution and logistics. Biagi also has a separate office area.

The building was built with the environment in mind. The original goal was a LEED basic rating, but adjustments made during construction let it qualify for the silver rating, and if a planned 1-megawatt solar array is installed on the roof, it will be gold certified.

The tenants and builders took exhaustive steps to save energy and resources as well as minimize the impact on the environment. Some were expensive, but should pay back over time.

To start, the building had to occupy 0.8 acre of wetlands, but this was mitigated by constructing a new 1.4-acre wetland and ponds for water storage, though the facility won’t generate a large amount internally.

The building is heavily insulated to R19, and a 500-ton chiller will maintain a temperature of 54°-60°F.

Before the design was complete, Pacific Gas & Electric analyzed the building, made many suggestions and offered rebates to save energy. This includes variable frequency drives for the refrigeration system and lights -- including in the warehouse -- activated by motion. In all, the facility includes eight measures that save 61% of the operating costs. The lighting alone also resulted in a $167,000 rebate, according to Paul Zenak, the project manager for Sierra View.

Green materials were used, including those made locally (within 500 miles) to save carbon emissions, low outgassing paints and other material, tiles composed of recycled plastic.

Reflecting recent disastrous fires in local wine warehouses, the building includes a sophisticated high-pressure sprinkler system that requires 17 miles of piping and 6,500 sprinkler heads.

Water for the facility comes from a state-of-the-art Dolphin Water Care ultraviolet sterilizer to eliminate the need for chemicals and filter, with automatic backflushing.

Landscaping uses drought tolerant olive trees and other plants with a smart irrigation system that senses rain and soil moisture.

Construction took 11 months and was completed two weeks ahead of schedule. Though it will be finished and ready to occupy next week, Jackson is waiting until after the holidays to avoid disrupting shipments. The building cost $28.8 million.

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