When Jessica Tuteur worked as director of operations for a large private label wine company, she realized there was a way she could improve the bottling experience. A 2015 trip to Italy sealed the deal when she and David Davenport were on a capsule tour and discovered European bottling methods.“We decided to bring one of the European machines to Napa and start our own company—one that focuses solely on bottling,” says Tuteur, president and general manager of Infinity Bottling. Davenport is plant manager. “We raised the money to build the facility and ordered the machinery in the fall of 2017.” Infinity Bottling officially started serving customers in July 2018. “We had four clients,” says Tuteur. “Now we have 15, including the original four.”
The state-of-the-art facility, located in south Napa, Calif., serves clients that produce between 25,000 and 300,000 cases annually. Its machinery can handle 350 mL, 750 mL, and 1.5 L bottles, at rates up to 200 bottles per minute, and runs start at a 5,000 case minimum with no maximum limits. “We do everything from bottling, to inserting corks and applying capsules [screwcap, Lux, and WAK], to putting everything in the case, onto the pallet, then shrink wrapping and shipping,” says Tuteur.One of the company’s top draws is its ability to handle bulk glass. “The bottles come straight from the furnace, on pallets. We build the boxes here, and the end result looks new,” says Tuteur. “There’s lots of automation as well. Labor is tight and we don’t use many temporary employees. With bulk glass, there’s a forklift driver who puts the pallets onto the machine, and the machine takes it from there. With case glass, we have to remove the bottles from the boxes manually. Automation takes out two handling steps.” There’s also the environmental benefit of more glass per delivery truck, as well as customer savings regarding repacking, carton erecting, and storage.
The bulk option is popular for retailers including Costco, Trader Joe’s, and BevMo. “We do the entire package, ensuring it’s delivery-ready according to the retailer’s specifications,” says Tutuer.
The glass (in any form) is supplied by customers; it can come from anywhere and varies in shape. “Some shapes need slower speeds for bottling,” says Tuteur. “Most customers have existing relationships with glass providers—we want to focus on the bottling.”
Since starting operations only 18 months ago, the company has bottled more than one million cases so far. “We’ve put together a great team,” says Tuteur. “I’m super happy about that; it’s so important. We’re also getting ready to expand into a second team, due to fast growth. So we’ll add a swing shift to accommodate demand. We’re also adding tanks to hold the wine, as well as reaching out to new customers.
“People are happy with our service,” she adds. “To me, that’s the ultimate accomplishment. It’s why we’re here.”