Trinchero Plans to Double Production at Lodi Winery
$300 million expansion to consolidate bottling and shipping operations and add 400 jobs
TFE vice chairman and CEO Roger Trinchero delivered the welcome news Tuesday to an audience of Lodi grapegrowers and local business people as keynote speaker at the 61st annual Lodi Grape Day sponsored by the Lodi Chamber of Commerce and presented in conjunction with the University of California Cooperative Extension of San Joaquin County.
TFE’s production has grown from 5.2 million cases in 1993 to 19.6 million cases in 2012. Trinchero said TFE is the fourth-largest wine-producing company in the United States and the nation’s second-largest family-owned wine company. In addition to flagship brand Sutter Home, which Trinchero called “the No. 1-selling varietal brand in the U.S.,” TFE also produces Ménage à Trois (now selling 2 million cases per year), Napa Cellars, Trinchero Napa Valley, Folie a Deux, Trinity Oaks, Wine Cube (sold at Target Stores), Terra d’Oro and Montevina among nearly 40 brands within the TFE portfolio. Trinchero said new capacity at the Lodi facility will enable the company to reach its long-range growth production goal of 30 million cases per year in the next 10 years.
Lodi grapes fuel growth
Providing a brief history of the company’s rapid growth during the 1970s and 1980s, when Sutter Home decided to specialize in Zinfandel and discovered “the miracle” of white Zinfandel, Trinchero discussed how Lodi became a major supplier of Zinfandel to fuel Sutter Home’s growth and success. Demand for white Zinfandel is also credited with saving many acres of historic old-vine Zinfandel vineyards in the Lodi region.
Trinchero said the company today crushes 250,000 tons of grapes per year across all its facilities, but a majority of its grapes are sourced within a 25-mile radius of Lodi. TFE farms more than 7,000 acres of vineyards in California, with a majority being northern inland acreage located in the Lodi and Clarksburg AVAs and in the Northern Sacramento Valley in Glenn and Colusa counties.
The company acquired 150 acres of property on the west side of Interstate 5 near Turner Road in Lodi in the late 1990s and has gradually developed crush and tank-storage capacity for Lodi-area grapes sourced from its own vineyards and from contract growers. Site development began in 1999, with the installation of wine-storage tanks. Expansion plans were put on hold after 2001 during the economic downturn, then resumed in 2007, with the addition of more tank-storage capacity and a crushing facility first used for the 2009 harvest. In 2009, a 700kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system also was installed at a cost of $5.3 million to power most of the site’s operations.
The Westside facility currently has a crush capacity of 100,000 tons, with 50 million gallons of tank storage space. However, Trinchero said, “That’s just the beginning. Our long-range plan is to develop a completely integrated facility that will double the site’s processing and crushing capacity.” The Westside facility will be TFE’s largest production facility with five high-speed bottling lines, a warehouse with a fully automated and computerized stacking system to consolidate case-good storage and logistics and 20 loading docks to serve as the company’s primary shipping point for its major brands.
Based on 2012 information from use-permit application documents with the San Joaquin County Planning Commission, the planned project expansion will be completed in two phases and cover 48 acres. Upon completion, the expanded facility will have 600,000 square feet of bottling space, 1.2 million square feet of warehouse space, a 16,000 square-foot bottling tank building, a new 38,750 square-foot press building, four new tank areas covering a total of 934,000 square feet, two administrative buildings with a total of 8,000 square feet, and a 104,000 square-foot parking lot. The site will have no public visitor facilities or tasting room.
“We want to create a state-of-the-art wine facility in the heart of one of California’s premier winemaking regions,” Trinchero said. “By being closer to where we source most of our grapes, this will reduce our winemaking and shipping costs and allow us to remain economically competitive,” he emphasized. TFE’s existing production facilities in Napa Valley will focus on production of those brands sourced from coastal vineyards.
Trinchero also observed, “We expect to broaden our grape-sourcing capabilities in this area by having a larger local presence here in the heart of Lodi Wine Country.” He summarized, “Lodi has played a crucial role in the growth of Trinchero Family Estates and will continue play a major role in the future.”