Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Ernest Gallo dies at 97

By Jessica Yadegaran
Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 at 2:56 pm in Uncategorized.

You’ve probably heard already. Ernest Gallo, wine mogul extraordinaire, died yesterday in his home in Modesto. The cause was not given. His brother, Julio, who he started the larger-than-life wine company with in 1933, died 14 years ago.

That leaves Joseph, Ernest’s son, as the company’s chief executive in charge of 4,600 employees. I had a friend who used to sell wine for Gallo. She nearly became an alcoholic and left the business a few years ago. Now she sells pharmaceuticals. Somehow that makes sense.

Don’t know about Thunderbird, but it’s safe to say we’ve all enjoyed a Turning Leaf, Louis Martini or Gossamer Bay wine in the past five years. All Gallo wines. I’m embarrassed to say it, but on more than one occasion, my friends and I have used ‘Gallo’ as an adjective to refer to a so-so wine.

But more than those actual bottles, I’ll remember the Gallos for their pioneering practices, specifically, bringing what was definitely better quality wine, at that time, to the masses at a lower cost. Blending grapes from Napa and San Joaquin? They did it. Stainless steel instead of wood casks? Them too. Screw tops. They were there before the Aussies.

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