Gallo Family Vineyards
Modesto - California
E. & J. Gallo Winery was founded in 1933 by Ernest Gallo (1909-2007) and Julio Gallo (1910-1993) in Modesto, California. E. & J. Gallo Winery is the largest exporter of California wines. The company has been pivotal in establishing Sonoma County as one of the premier wine growing regions in the world.
The two brothers started the winery following the repeal of Prohibition after years of growing and selling grapes. Ernest and Julio were competing against larger, more established, and better financed companies, including more than 800 wine companies in the first few years after Prohibition in California alone. Their starting capital was less than $6,000, with $5,000 of that borrowed by Ernest from his mother-in-law. They learned the craft of commercial winemaking by reading old, pre-Prohibition pamphlets published by the University of California which they retrieved from the basement of the Modesto Public Library.
1972 Time magazine did a cover story
on Ernest (left) and Julio Gallo
In 1988, the Gallo brothers sued their younger brother Joseph for selling cheese branded with the Joseph Gallo Farms name. Joseph then counterclaimed, alleging that Ernest and Julio conspired to steal his share of the inheritance from their father. This claim included the winery, which evidence submitted by Joseph's attorney's suggested was actually started by the father. Joseph Gallo lost both suits and was forced to change the name of his business to Joseph Farms.
E. & J. Gallo Winery is the largest family-owned winery in the United States. 13 members of the family’s second- and third-generation work for the company. In addition to the Gallo Family Vineyards brand, the company makes wine under other labels including Louis M. Martini, Mirassou Vineyards, MacMurray Ranch, Rancho Zabaco, Ecco Domani, Frei Brothers, Red Bicyclette, Bella Sera, Turning Leaf, Black Swan, Sebeka, Twin Valley, Napa Valley Vineyards, Barefoot Wine, and Bridlewood. Additionally, they make the low-end fortified wines Thunderbird and Night Train Express.
On September 14, 2007, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced that it inked a partnership with E & J Gallo Winery to produce a wine brand with the label "Martha Stewart Vintage". 15,000 cases to be sold include: 2006 Sonoma County Chardonnay, 2005 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and 2006 Sonoma County Merlot (for Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, North Carolina, Denver, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon).
In the vineyard, E. & J. Gallo Winery took the lead in developing and implementing the Code of Sustainable Wine Growing Practices, in a collaborative effort with the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. The Code promotes sustainable practices which are environmentally sound, economically feasible and socially equitable. It covers virtually every aspect of the wine business including viticulture and grape growing, wine making, purchasing and building and maintaining productive relationships with neighbors and the local communities. E. & J. Gallo Winery also was the first winery in the United States to receive the prestigious ISO 14001 certification from the International Organization for Standardization. The certification was created to assist and guide companies throughout the world to reduce their impacts on the environment.
Through their winery, Ernest and Julio were instrumental in introducing American consumers to wine and creating the modern U.S. wine market. They were among the pioneers of wine advertising on television and launched many memorable wine advertising campaigns. They were the first to introduce brand management and modern merchandising to the wine industry. They led the way in bringing new products to store shelves. They were first in breakthrough quality initiatives such as long-term grower contracts for varietal grapes and grape research programs. They were also first to establish a truly significant foreign sales and marketing force to export California wines overseas.
Central Coast - California