'We're growing at a consistent pace;' to buy trucks, install software

WINDSOR – Alexander Valley Cellars is racking up more capacity to store, transport and ship wine as it has picked up a number of customers in the past year and is moving more wine out to the trade and consumers.

The company recently leased 60,000 square feet of the former Clos Du Bois warehouse at 1010 Shiloh Road in Windsor, is purchasing two more big rigs with 48-foot trailers and is preparing to expand its offices and streamline software connecting the trucking, warehousing and shipping sides of the business, according to co-owner Meritt Dahlgren.

"Last year, knock on wood, was a very good year for us," he said. "We're growing at a consistent pace."

[caption id="attachment_21497" align="alignright" width="322" caption="Alexander Valley Cellars, based out of this north Santa Rosa warehouse, is buying two more big rigs and acquired 60,000 more square feet of space in Windsor."][/caption]

Its customer list now numbers nearly 200, with a number of small brands and a few large ones picked up in the past year when Napa Valley's New Vine closed its doors briefly in June 2009 before being acquired by Inertia Beverage Group of Napa.

A slowdown in fine wine sales last year backed up cases of wine in vintner inventories as distributors and trade accounts worked to cut their stocks.

Yet starting late last year, North Coast warehousers were moving more wine out than in, according to industry research firm Gomberg Fredrikson & Associates of Woodside. In the first half of 2009, shipments were off by 20 percent from the same period in 2008.

That increase in outbound volume has been evident at Alexander Valley Cellars, according to Mr. Dahlgren. That's been led by club and order shipments by the 18-month-old AVC Direct business, which has been enjoying more activity in the last couple of months.

"We have more wine being pulled per day and going out per day than in the past," he said.

This increase in outbound volume is adding to an expected seasonal increase in warehousing demand as a number of wineries bottle past vintages. The extra capacity of the recently empty Shiloh warehouse, Sonoma County's largest such building at 289,000 square feet, will help Alexander Valley Cellars handle such ebb and flow of demand.

The company has three other facilities, bringing the total space to 290,000 square feet. The warehousing operation had reached 95 percent capacity with 1.5 million to 1.75 million cases of wine under roof, according to Mr. Dahlgren.

A lease on another Windsor warehouse was renewed. It has enough office space to accommodate the growing of some of the administrative staff likely to be moved from the headquarters warehouse near Sonoma County airport around the end of this year.

The 25-year-old company employs 32, with five drivers currently and one more pending, 18 warehouse workers and eight administrative staff. Direct-shipping regulatory compliance is outsourced through Colorado-based ShipCompliant.

Also coming later this year is new asset-management software to track wine from pickup to warehouse to shipment.

Mike Flitner and Shawn Johnson of Keegan & Coppin brokered Alexander Valley Cellars' Shiloh Road lease.

For more information, call 707-541-7252 or visit www.alexandervalleycellars.com.