Vintners to Get Expanded Lab Space

    Italy’s largest producer of natural cork wine bottle stoppers is planning to double the size of its North American distribution hub to have more room for quality control and increase efficiency, the North Bay Business Journal reports.

     Ganau America, a subsidiary of family-owned Sugherificio Ganau S.p.A. of Sardinia, purchased 2.8 acres of land in late May and plans to build a 40,000-square-foot facility about a half-mile away from its current location at 21750 Eighth St. East in Sonoma. The new location is in Carneros Business Park, a 53-acre, newly approved development just north of the intersection of Eighth Street East and Highway 121.

     The goal is to open the estimated $5 million facility in early 2010.

     If the county of Sonoma approves the project proposal, the new location would have four times more laboratory space than the current facility. Winemakers often use such labs to test for problem bales of corks, according to Mariella Ganau, President of Ganau America.

     “In Napa and Sonoma counties, many winemakers want to do their own evaluations in our facility,” said Ganau. “So it made sense to accommodate winemakers who want to do their own testing.”

     Such testing, including the soaking of stoppers in wine, hot water or vodka for 24 hours, has become more rigorous in the past decade as some winemakers have looked askance at natural cork closures amid publicity that fingered such stoppers as the culprit for “tainted” wine, especially involving delicate white varietals.

     Such attention to the issue has led to the rise of alternative closures and a shift among natural cork stopper makers toward vertical integration from tree to delivered bale, as well as development of cutting-edge sanitation for the cork bark as early in the production process as possible.

Posted in Wine Cellar Notes
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