Local winery expands warehouse at Railex facility - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local winery expands warehouse at Railex facility

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WALLULA, WA - As the Washington wine industry grows at a rapid pace, so are the support companies behind the scenes.

One company near Wallula is making it much easier to transport locally-made wine across the country and around the world.

"Many different companies have grown and developed because of the growth within the wine industry," said Rob McKinney, Columbia Crest V.P. of Operations.

Transportation of products, especially at a large scale, is always a complicated aspect of operating a business, but Railex is working to make that task easier on a large scale.

Railex employs 45 workers near Wallula to store and ship Chateau Ste. Michelle's various brands around the country and the world.

Chateau Ste. Michelle, along with its associated brands, produces millions of cases of wine each year...and with such a massive amount of wine needing to be transported, Railex stepped in to fill the need with a 500,000 square foot warehouse. This warehouse is the size of eleven football fields and holds the wine right next to the train tracks in Wallula, but at this point, 500,000 square feet isn't enough space.

So Railex is expanding again, adding a 260,000 square foot facility right next to the original warehouse to hold even more wine, currently all for Chateau Ste. Michelle's various labels.

It's a streamlining effort meant to save time, money, and efficiency, while at the same time making Washington wine more recognizable outside the Pacific Northwest.

"What you're trying to provide any of our customers is the most efficient means of moving their goods to the population," said Jim Kleist, Senior V.P. of Operations. "Most of the population is east of the Mississippi, a lot of it's down in California...how do you get it there in the most efficient slash cost-effective manner?"

And even though currently the millions of cases of wine being transported are all various brands under Chateau Ste. Michelle, all of Washington wine country benefits from locally produced wines being consumed around the world. This broadens the awareness of Washington wine country across the globe, which increases tourism in the area so that smaller wineries can sell their products to out-of-area people as well.