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Hand Sanitizer Production Launches in the Distillery

Posted on March 25, 2020 in Uncategorized

The Distillery at The Still House is producing hand sanitizer in response to the need created by COVID-19

Gervasi Vineyard is in the process of procuring the necessary ingredients and packaging supplies for the production of hand sanitizer. The distillery at The Still House has most of the equipment and ingredients (specifically grain alcohol) to produce this much-needed product during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As soon as we learned we were permitted to convert our distillery operation to making hand sanitizer, we knew this was something we wanted to do,” said Scott Swaldo, General Manager, GV Destinations.” Repurposing the distillery gives us a unique way to really help our community with something desperately needed during this crisis.”

The winery and distillery teams are working together to collect the necessary blend of ingredients to create the hand sanitizer. In addition, following the correct formula and adhering to legal guidelines are top priorities.

“Gervasi Vineyard wants to help. We want to be a part of the solution,” said Andrew Codispoti, Director of Winemaking & Distilling Operations, who is spearheading the project.

“We decided the FDA formula should be followed to make the hand sanitizer. This special formula was obtained from the World Health Organization, and allows companies to produce the product in a time of crisis, with the proper guidance from head experts,” said Codispoti.

The key ingredients for the formulation being followed by Gervasi Vineyard include: ethanol, glycerol, hydrogen peroxide and purified water.

“We reached out to our community asking for leads on supplies and the response was amazing. We received over 30 direct leads and hundreds of messages of support,” said Swaldo.

Ohio-based companies and local partners have stepped up to assist in ascertaining the proper supplies for production, including bottles, labels and key ingredients. Gervasi is working with Berlin Packaging to purchase (at a discount) a food-grade bottle that is designed to be used for barbeque sauce, with a screw cap.

“Due to the high demand for hand sanitizer, the traditional bottles were too difficult to source,” said Codispoti. “It’s not ideal for administering hand sanitizer, but we felt it was more important to get the product in circulation.”

In addition, the demand for ethanol (a key ingredient to make hand sanitizer) is extremely high at this time. Therefore Gervasi will need to make its own ethanol to manufacture the sanitizer.

“It’s touching to see how the community has pulled together with this effort,” said Codispoti. “Swartz Farm is donating the corn, which will provide the grain necessary to make the ethanol, and Hartville Elevator has agreed to donate their services of testing, milling and delivery.”

The boutique distillery was designed to be a low volume producer for craft spirits, and is not set up for high volume production. As a result, the distilling process will take more time for the alcohol to reach the appropriate stage of proofing from grains.

“Our team is working diligently and as fast as possible to make this happen,” said Swaldo. “Due to delivery schedules, production and packaging time, along with the FDA requirements, we expect to have initial product by late next week.”

Label Aid, the company’s current partner for their wine labels, has agreed to print and donate the labels for the hand sanitizer. However, the bottling operation will be done by hand, including the label application.

“It is an all-hands-on labor operation, one piece at a time,” said Codispoti. “It is encouraging to know that every person that applies a label is doing their part to help their neighbors.”

The initial production will generate nearly 800 bottles for local distribution to our immediate community directly through front-line medical facilities, emergency management agencies, and limited direct distribution to Gervasi staff and customers. With additional supplies, the goal is to produce another 2,500 bottles for distribution within the next three weeks. We will announce any future opportunities for distribution if they become available.

“We’re grateful to live in a community that wants to help one another,” said Swaldo.

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