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 the Central Valley ) and produced during the prohibition (1920-1933) Grapes they sold. Due to debt tragedy arose, 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 butler and Ernest took care of the sale. 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 not until 1937 that wines were produced under their own label and in 1940 the first own vines were planted. In addition, grapes were purchased. The success story began in 1957 with the mixed from white port and lemon juice and 20% alcohol content propelled "Thunderbird" targeting poor blacks. A quarter-liter cost then 60 cents. Gallo made aggressive advertising for it, for such the Fima is still known today. In 1957 alone, 32 million gallons sold. This wine is still produced today. Other successful products were the "Ripple" sparkling wine and "Boone's Farm Apple Wine" ( cider ).
In 1964 the production of Jug Wines (Cheap wines) started in huge quantities. These were mainly the brands "Hearty Burgundy" and "Chablis Blanc". At that time, and until the beginning of the third millennium, it was a common practice in the New World to name wines after prominent European territories. The name Gallo became synonymous with cheap mass wines of simple cut. From 1977 a change in philosophy took place. Instead of the Generics (Generic wines) were now varietals (Varietal wines) forced. From the mid-1980s, huge areas were in the vineyard 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 came up with the proof to be able to produce top wines such as "Chardonnay Laguna" from selected single layers. The image of Gallo has been sustainably improved. Through the purchase of a total of six wineries, the ownership increased enormously. Among them was, for example, 2002 Louis M. Martini Winery which also has Italian roots. The vineyard property in Sonoma County covers about 2,000 hectares of vineyards. The Dry Creek Valley winery produces around 300,000 hectoliters of wine annually. But that is only a fraction of the total production. The sonoma project was handled by Julio's grandchildren Gina and Matthew Gallo.
The vineyards cover a total of 3,600 hectares of vineyards. The experimental vineyard alone, where new grape varieties and new farming methods are tested, is over 400 hectares in size. In addition, even in large quantities grapes purchased. Every year around 50 million boxes of wine and more are produced, that is 6 million hectoliters. Each at least fourth wine bottle of the USA comes from the house of Gallo. It is the world's largest family-owned winery and is one of the top five wine producers in the world. The products are sold in 90 countries. On a large scale, other drinks as well Coolers. fruit wines. sparkling wines and spirits generated.
In addition to the brand Gallo or Gallo Sonoma wines are marketed under numerous names. These include Anapamu, Barefoot, Bartles & James, Bella Sera, Black Swan, Carlo Rossi, Ecco Domani, Free Brothers, Indigo Hills, Livingstone Cellars, Louis M. Martini, Mirassou Vineyards, MacMurray Ranch, Napa Valley Vineyard, Night Train Express, Red Bicyclette, Sebeka, Thunderbird, Tott's Andre, Turning Leaf, Twin Valley and Rancho Zabaco. There is an own glass factory for wine bottles. The parent plant 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 basin.
Julio Gallo was killed in a car accident on the factory site in 1993, and was responsible for the basement until his death. His brother Ernest died in 2007, the age of eighty-eight, and he had taken until the death of his share of the business. The superlative company is still privately owned and today is run by second and third generation members. In total, 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 an exemplary model and most of the US top executives in the wine trade have at least worked there for a short time.
The company Gallo jealously guards its name. Thus, after a long-running lawsuit in 2005, it was decided that the Chianti Protection Association would be the name part Gallo nero outside of Italy may no longer use. And the half-brother of the two founders named Joseph Gallo was even forbidden to market the cheese produced by him under the name Gallo. See also below globalization and largest wine companies in the world,