Wine Giant To Begin Building $423M Center In South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The biggest winemaker in the United States is set to begin construction on a $423 million bottling and distribution center in South Carolina.

E. & J. Gallo Winery is building the production facility and distribution center in Chester County after the state tweaked its liquor laws to let Gallo open tasting rooms where people can sample their wines.

Gallo wants to open a site in Chester County to be the center of its East Coast operations and asked for the tasting rooms as part of the deal. The company will hire 496 people over the next eight years, according to a Tuesday news release from Gov. Henry McMaster's office.

The first phase of construction is currently set for completion in October of next year.

Gallo told the state that it agreed to follow existing South Carolina liquor laws and buy the wine sampled and sold in its tasting rooms from the wholesalers that by law all liquor manufacturers must sell to and all outlets that sell liquor must buy from.

Gallo executives told lawmakers they picked South Carolina over Georgia and North Carolina for their East Coast operations, a strategic move to cut costs since nearly two-thirds of its customers live east of the Mississippi River.

The new building in Chester County will start as a warehouse, but Gallo said they eventually want to expand to bottle wine at the site.