When the Four Feathers Winery near Kennewick, Wash., began construction on a new production facility, they had a unique design in mind. The topography of the site allowed the company to design a system that utilized gravity to help improve the process of moving grapes through the facility.
The challenge? The grapes needed to be unloaded from semi trucks into a conveyer system that started at the top of a 19-ft-tall ledge. The winery needed to create a vertical wall that could support the weight of the roadway and trucks above, create space for all the necessary equipment, and also look good.
Rod Chumley, owner of Scout Lake Excavation and part-owner of the winery, had been building retaining walls for the last 20 years. When this project came up, Chumley recommended Redi-Rock as the best solution for the wall construction.
“One of the advantages of the wall is that it gives us the ability to receive fruit on a gravity system. We receive fruit 21-24 tons at a time. We’re using that elevation change that the wall has afforded us as a benefit,” explained Dave Copeland, operations manager at Zirkle. In addition to the semi trucks, the wall also was engineered to withstand the load of a 7.5-ton crane.
The efficient connection the Redi-Rock PC System allows was a major benefit to this project. “The way that the geogrid connects through the block creates a solid connection because the grid goes all the way through the block rather than just being connected on one small portion of the block,” John McKervey, P.E., principal of JM Engineering, said. “It makes a strong connection between the block back into the soil behind it and there’s really no chance of a connection failure with this system.”
Additional benefits of using the retaining wall system on this project included:
- Lower Cost: “I felt really confident in the structural integrity of the walls, and it was cheaper than pouring a wall there by over about a third,” Chumley explained.
- Fast installation: “We took two days to get really familiar with cutting the grid and pulling it through, but after that we were off running,” Chumley said. Construction of the vertical wall for this project was completed in just three weeks.
- Utility coordination: The PC System was an ideal fit for this application because the winery needed to locate vertical drainage structures behind the retaining wall. “Having those 1-ft-wide strips of geogrid allowed us to run the strips around the drainage structures vs. if you had a continuous row of fabric you’re just going to lose that geogrid. We were able to run around those structures and still get that structural stability,” McKervey explained.