Two Sonoma County, California wine storage warehouses have announced that they will collaborate this spring on a direct-to-consumer shipping venture. The two entrepreneurs, Chuck Holmes of Adobe Creek Wine & Storage in Petaluma, and Mark Burris, of Redwood Empire Wine Storage and Eagle Transportation in Santa Rosa, are old friends. Adobe Creek Wine & Storage and Redwood Empire Wine Storage, between them, provide storage to more than 150 local wineries. The new collaboration will make it possible for those wineries to save money by taking advantage of the partnership between the two facilities.
Prior to the Adobe Creek/Redwood Empire partnership, wineries shipped their wine by truck from warehouses to fulfillment houses, where it would have to be inventoried and then repacked for shipment to consumers or to commercial customers. Now, Eagle Transportation (the trucking company affiliated with Redwood Empire Wine Storage) will move cases of wine straight from Redwood to Adobe Creek, where it can be repacked into packages with fewer bottles for club shipments and orders.
This is not the first time Holmes and Burris have worked together.
"We've been friends for a very long time," Holmes told Jeff Quackenbush, a reporter for the North Bay Business Journal, on Monday. "We trust each other."
In the past, Redwood Empire has provided overflow storage for Adobe Creek when the Adobe Creek facility has gotten filled up. Redwood Empire can store up to one million cases of wine, while Adobe Creek can store 1.2 million. Around harvest time, both facilities can get very full. Holmes and Burris have been waiting for an opportunity to get involved in order fulfillment, a service which seemed like a natural for both their facilities and which would give wineries even more reason to warehouse with them. But in the past, they were discouraged by the complicated federal court rulings regarding interstate shipping of wine.
Recently, though, some Sonoma County wine warehouses have gotten around this obstacle by partnering with providers who already ship wine across state lines. In 2007, Sonoma County Vintners Co-op, for example, partnered with Pack n' Ship Direct, taking advantage of Pack 'n Ship's experience working within state regulations to legally ship wines. Having a business partner that already handles interstate shipping meant that wine warehouses do not have to "reinvent the wheel" or hire a team of lawyers simply to be able to pack an order and ship a product.
Adobe Creek and Redwood Empire will work with Vin-Go, a Napa fulfillment and compliance service that opened in July 2009, making shipments to 45 states. Vin-Go's refrigerated trucks will move wines to climate-controlled warehouses near each package's final destination. Then ordinary package carriers will ship the packages for the last leg of the journey to the consumer. This practice is called "zone shipping." It is a method businesses use to save money by avoiding having to pay common carrier costs for interstate package deliveries. In the wine business, zone shipping is essential because it provides a way to keep wine cool while it is being shipped, especially during the hot summer months.
Adobe Creek will pack orders at its Petaluma warehouse, and Vin-Go will ship packages from Adobe Creek to refrigerated warehouses in other states.
"I'm hoping this opens a whole lot more sales for wineries," Holmes told Quackenbush in Monday's North Bay Business Journal.
The practice of partnering with shipping companies may do more than open up sales for wineries -- it may also provide an expansion opportunity for self-storage companies, many of which also provide wine storage in their local communities. Self-storage facilities which provide climate-controlled wine storage could get involved at either end of the process. They could partner with shipping companies, following the model set by Adobe Creek and Redwood Empire, or they could get involved at the delivery end, by providing cool storage for packages of wine that are waiting to be picked up by local carriers for delivery on the last leg of their journeys.
Pack n' Ship Direct website.
Quackenbush, Jeff. "Warehouses in direct-shipping venture with Napa startup." CN Wine News. April 13, 2010.
Quackenbush, Jeff. "Warehouses in direct-shipping venture with Napa start-up." North Bay Business Journal. April 12, 2010.
"Sonoma Co-op expands storage." Wines & Vines. May 1, 2007.