Free Flow Wines, which works with vintners to make their premium wines available on tap and in cans, plans to relocate from Napa to Sonoma early next year in a facility with four times the capacity.

The 9-year-old company had expanded from Sonoma to Napa five years ago. Now, it's set to move in January to a building under construction at 14900 Carneros Lake Lane in Carneros Business Park, Free Flow Wines announced. The new facility is designed to include a state-of-the-art line for transferring delicate wine into kegs, expanded services for filling single-serving cans, temperature-controlled bulk wine storage and more office space.

"We were having a conversation with our former landlord, and he offered us an opportunity that was rather spectacular," Jordan Kivelstadt, CEO and co-founder, told North Bay Business Journal today. In 2009, Free Flow Wines started in an Eighth Street East warehouse near Sonoma. The owner, Sonoma-based Vintage Enterprises, currently is managing multiple pending properties and completed industrial buildings in the business park.

"We're upgrading everything we do to enable the next 10 years of growth," Kivelstadt said.

And to manage the expanding operations and company growth, Free Flow appointed Rich Bouwer chief operating officer.

“Free Flow has been building the premium wine on tap category for nearly a decade," states Jordan Kivelstadt, CEO and co-founder. "Our facility expansion will allow us to improve services and increase capacity, helping us achieve our goal of saving more than 100 million bottles from the landfill in the coming years."

Free Flow’s increased production capacity will accommodate filling up to 1.1 million kegs and 5 million cases of cans per year. A new custom-designed Comac kegging line is designed to fill 150 kegs per hour, with predesigned modules that can increase capacity to 300 kegs per hour.

Putting wine into single-serving aluminum cans is a fast-growing part of the wine business. Free Flow last year started leveraging its processes for carefully transferring wine delivered by vintners into kegs toward putting the beverage into cans, all without disturbing it too much or introducing oxygen that could lead to spoilage. From 1,000 to 2,000 cases of cans turned out monthly last year, the company plans to can in July 30,000 cases of wine and wine-related products such as spritzers.

More than two-thirds of the canning customers are existing kegging clients, and the rest are coming to Free Flow for cans only, Kivelstadt said. The company currently is working with over two dozen brands in cans.

"It's a huge growth engine for us," Kivelstadt said. "It's another sustainable alternative packaging, and there is not really anyone in California focusing on putting high-quality wine in cans."

With capacity for storing up to 375,000 gallons, the expanded bulk-wine storage program is being configured to allow Free Flow’s customers to have more fill-on-demand flexibility, improve bulk logistics and lower costs.

In conjunction with the move, Free Flow will be partnering with CanSource, the leader in can-sleeving services in the U.S. and Canada, to outfit the Sonoma facility.

“Free Flow revolutionized the wine-on-tap category, and now together we will do the same with wine-in-a-can,” said Pat Hartman, co-owner of CanSource, in the announcement. "Our strategic partnership will allow us to be a one-stop-shop for labeling, filling and packaging all under one roof, allowing our joint customers more flexibility while driving costs down."

Free Flow said it will continue to reclaim 95 percent of process wastewater, or about 11 million gallons per year. The new facility is specified to have a Cloacina industrial membrane bioreactor.

Troy Ellison, general manager of Cloacina, said the closed-loop water-reclamation system designed for Free Flow is sized to save 28 acre-feet annually from being pumped from the Sonoma Valley aquifer.

Bouwer began his new role as Free Flow’s operations chief on June 11. He has held previous roles at Saxco International, Treasury Wine Estates and Gallo, and brings more than 25 years of operational and leadership experience.

“(Free Flow has) been changing the way premium wine is delivered to restaurants and venues, and I look forward to being a part of the continued success with this first-rate team,” said Bouwer in the press release.

Free Flow also has expanded its board of directors, adding Richard Gerstein and Lane Cardwell. They have experience in the logistics and restaurant industries, the company said.

Founded in 2009, Free Flow leases kegs, fills them, and handles logistics of getting the kegs to and from trade accounts such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, sports and entertainment venues across the U.S. In addition to Napa, Free Flow kegs for the East Coast from Bayonne, New Jersey.

The company employs 75. That's not expected to change much with the new facility, Kivelstadt said. Rather, the company will be focusing on training employees on the higher-technology equipment.

"I'd rather pay the employees 10 percent more than increase the workforce by 10 percent," he said. "It's hard enough for workers in the North Bay to find a place to live."

Free Flow has more than 250 wine brands in keg from wineries throughout North America, South America, New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

Jeff Quackenbush (jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256) covers the wine business and commercial construction and real estate.

This story has been updated with further details.