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Gervasi Vineyard to make hand sanitizer in distillery amid coronavirus outbreak

The goal is to produce an additional 2,500 bottles of hand sanitizer for distribution within the next three weeks.

CANTON, Ohio — With hand sanitizer in short supply, Gervasi Vineyard in Canton has announced they will be using their distillery to help produce some of the much-needed product.

“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.”

Gervasi officials say they already have most of the equipment and ingredients, including grain alcohol, to start the hand sanitizer production.

“The winery and distillery teams are working together to collect the necessary blend of ingredients to create the hand sanitizer,” the company said in a press release. “In addition, research for the correct formula and following the legal guidelines are a top priority.”

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,” Swaldo said.

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Andrew Codispoti, the director of winemaking and distilling operations, is spearheading the project.

“We decided the FDA formula should be followed to make the hand sanitizer,” he said. “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.”

Gervasi officials say they are working with Berlin Packaging to purchase 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,” Codispoti said. “It’s not ideal for administering hand sanitizer, but we felt it was more important to get the product in circulation.”

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Due to “extremely high” demand for ethanol, Gervasi will be making its own.

“It’s touching to see how the community has pulled together with this effort,” Codispoti said. “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.”

Gervasi officials say the initial production will generate nearly 800 bottles for local distribution, which will be sent to a combination of front-line medical facilities, as well as to the general public.

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

It is clearly a team effort.

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

With the additional supplies being made in the boutique distillery, the goal is to produce an additional 2,500 bottles for distribution within the next three weeks.

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