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NAPA ? New Vine Logistics, a major player in helping fulfill winery shipments directly to consumers, has signed the largest Napa Valley office lease so far this year as the company expands its services for helping wineries navigate the maze of interstate and now international direct shipments.

New Vine has signed a five-year lease for 26,600 square feet at 445 Devlin Road in Napa Valley Gateway Business Park in south Napa. That?s the former home of medical deep freeze developer Integrated Biosystems before that company was acquired by Stedim Biosystems in 2002 and absorbed into Sartorius Stedim Biotech operations in the East Bay and elsewhere last year.

Previously, New Vine Logistics had 30 employees in its administrative and logistics departments in an 8,000-square-foot office and the 26 employees in the customer care department in another 5,000-square foot office also in south Napa. The rest of the company?s 116 employees are in the 150,000-square-foot high-tech fulfillment center in American Canyon.

?It gives us room to expand into compliance,? said founder, President and CEO Katie Hoertkorn, noting that the new corporate office, occupied in late April, can accommodate up to 90 employees. ?As we grow our client base, we will have to grow our customer care staff.?

Makers of fine wine, many of which are on the North Coast, have been rapidly moving to direct sales because of a quickly evaporating pool of distributors and the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court Granholm decision on laws against out-of-state direct shipments.

Now, wineries can ship orders placed in their tasting rooms to consumers in 45 states and orders from their wine clubs and Web sites to about three dozen states.

New Vine can automatically receive consumer orders placed at client winery Web sites, tasting rooms and wine clubs; check orders against state rules; pick and pack bottles picked up and warehoused; and ship the packages via common carriers.

A new service set to launch soon is international shipment processing, tariff handling and regulatory compliance via a partnership with FedEx. Instead of having to call carriers to check on costs and documentation based on weight, destination and value, wineries will have a set price for 40 countries, according to Ms. Hoertkorn. Shipments valued at more than $2,000 need special federal documentation.

?So many wineries have international visitors, and wineries need to deal with international invoices,? she said.

In addition to having a customer care team that helps client wineries deal with issues such as passing consumer address changes to carriers or arranging for shipment returns, New Vine recently launched a secure Internet-based portal called NewVineOnline to help clients stay on top of their state and federal permit and license status.

Also part of the new extranet is a tool that will check weather forecasts for courier routes to specific ZIP codes, an important factor for determining whether temperature could harm wine en route. If wineries want extra insurance, New Vine plans to roll out its WineAssure insulated packaging option June 1 for two-, six- and 12-bottle shipments.

Several dozen wineries already have expressed interest in the service and even plan summer club options as a result, according to Ms. Hoertkorn. That?s partly the cause for expanding the customer care department.

Matt Bracco, Glen Dowling and Chris Neeb of Cushman & Wakefield represented Sartorius Stedim in a three-year sublease of 445 Devlin to New Vine and a follow-up two-year lease with building owner McDaniel & Associates. Mr. Bracco and Mr. Neeb represented New Vine.

For more information, call 707-226-9400 or visit www.newvinelogistics.com.

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