The brothers Ernest (1909-2007) and Julio Gallo (1910-1993) were the sons of Italian immigrants from the Piedmont, The father Guiseppe (Joseph) and his younger brother Michael bought wine from small wineries in the early 20th century California they resold. In the early 1920s they acquired a small farm near Modesto (Stanislaus County in Central Valley ) and produced during the prohibition (1920-1933) grapes they sold. A tragedy occurred due to indebtedness, Guiseppe shot his wife first in 1933 and then himself. The two sons took over the farm and founded the E. & J. Gallo Winery. Julio was the cellar master and Ernest took care of the sales. The first winery was built on the site of today's huge factory in Modesto. Initially, barrel wine was produced and sold to bottlers.
It was only from 1937 that wines were produced under their own label and in 1940 the first own vines were planted. Grapes were also bought. The success story began in 1957 with the "Thunderbird" mixed with white port wine and lemon juice and sprinkled on 20% alcohol content with the target group poor blacks. A quarter liter cost 60 cents at the time. Gallo made aggressive advertising for this, the Fima is still known for such. In 1957 alone, 32 million of them gallons sold. This wine is still produced today. Other successful products were the sparkling wine "Ripple" and the "Boone's Farm Apple Wine" ( cider ).
In 1964 the production of Jug wines (Cheap wines) started in huge quantities. These were primarily the "Hearty Burgundy" and "Chablis Blanc" brands. Back then and until the beginning of the third millennium, it was a widespread practice in the New World to name wines after prominent European regions. The name Gallo became a synonym for cheap mass-produced wines of simple cuts. From 1977 on there was a change in philosophy. Instead of the Generics (Generic wines) were now varietals (Varietal wines) forced. From the mid-1980s, vast areas of vines were planted in the Sonoma County in the AVA areas Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley bought and founded the new company "Gallo Sonoma".
There, Gallo demonstrated that it was also able to produce top-quality wines such as "Chardonnay Laguna" from selected individual locations. This has sustainably improved Gallo's image. The property increased enormously through the purchase of a total of six wineries. Among them was, for example, in 2002 Louis M. Martini Winery who also has Italian roots. Vineyard ownership in Sonoma County covers approximately 2,000 hectares of vineyards. The Dry Creek Valley winery produces approximately 300,000 hectoliters of wine annually. But that is only a fraction of the total production. Julio's grandsons Gina and Matthew Gallo were responsible for the Sonoma project.
The vineyards cover a total of 3,600 hectares of vineyards. The trial vineyard alone, where new grape varieties and new farming methods are being tested, is over 400 hectares in size. In addition, also in large quantities grapes purchased. Around 50 million boxes of wine and more are produced annually, which is 6 million hectoliters. Every at least fourth wine bottle in the USA comes from Gallo. It is the world's largest family-owned winery and one of the top five in wine production worldwide. The products are sold in 90 countries. To a large extent, other drinks such as Coolers. fruit wines. sparkling wines and spirits generated.
In addition to the Gallo or Gallo Sonoma brands, wines are marketed under numerous names. These include Anapamu, Barefoot, Bartles & James, Bella Sera, Black Swan, Carlo Rossi, Ecco Domani, Frei Brothers, Indigo Hills, Livingstone Cellars, Louis M. Martini, Mirassou Vineyards, MacMurray Ranch, Napa Valley Vineyards, Night Train Express, Red Bicyclette, Sebeka, Thunderbird, Tott's André, Turning Leaf, Twin Valley and Rancho Zabaco. There is a separate glass factory for wine bottles. The parent company in Modesto is more like a high-tech factory than a winery. In the marble-clad entrance hall, a large waterfall pours into a huge pool.
Julio Gallo was killed in a car accident on the factory premises in 1993, and had been responsible for the basement until his death. His brother Ernest died in 2007 at the age of ninety-eight, and he, too, had been actively involved in the business until his death. The superlative company is still privately owned and is now managed by second and third generation members. A total of around a dozen family members work in the giant company. The slogan on the Gallo website is "Three generations - one passion" . The sales and marketing department is considered a role model and most of the top US wine retailers have worked there, at least briefly.
The Gallo company jealously guards its name. So after a long legal dispute in 2005 it was decided that the Chianti Protection Association should take the part of the name Gallo nero not allowed to use outside of Italy. And the half-brother of the two founders named Joseph Gallo was even prohibited from marketing the cheese he produced under the name Gallo. See also under globalization and largest wine companies in the world,