Uncorked in Kennewick

Uncorked in Kennewick
KENNEWICK -- The Port of Kennewick's landed the first cork maker outside of Napa.

It's expected to support the entire Pacific Northwest wine industry.

"This is straight from a cork tree," Corkwest Marking and Sales representative Adam Schulz said. "So this is a 100 percent natural cork.

So far, no fancy accessories.

"all this equipment's never been used," he said.

But just wait. In two weeks, you'll find some very haute couture corks.

"For a premium wine producer, this is what they're going to want to use," Shulz said. "it's kind of a like a statement like anything else. If you were a tuxedo people take you seriously. These is kind of like the tuxedos of wine bottles."

It's something CorkWest prides itself on as the first cork maker outside of California Wine Country, now at the Oak Street Industrial Park in Kennewick.

"The ideas seemed to be pretty much a no-brainer to want to come be a wine cork producer for a region with a 1000-plus wineries that are all growing," Shulz said.

Schulz said the company plans to pump out 20 million corks a year to local and regional wineries from California to Canada.

"They're heat dried over here then they're basically gassed with sulfer-dioxide which keeps out contamination," Shulz explained about some of the corking equipment.

The equipment was already here, from a Portuguese company that suddenly disappeared two years ago.

Now, the equipment used on their stoppers for a one-stop custom shop: to brand, treat, and package.

Plus, there's on-site testing to ensure corks preserve, rather than taint.

"I know everybody's worst fear is having a cork ruining a bottle of wine, so I feel like as much as I now goes into a bottle of wine, I want to make sure as much we're putting into the cork is the same amount they're putting in the bottles," Shulz said.

Company reps said they plan to go to each local wine region to get their business started, from Willamette to Yakima to Walla Walla.

The Port of Kennewick said, this could be the first of other businesses like this at the Port.