There’s a fascinating excerpt from an unusually candid 1969 interview with Ernest Gallo posted to the Modesto Bee today. Apparently, he agreed to the interview only if the information remained sealed until after his death. The 168 page transcript was made public this week. Details on everything from early business practices with what appeared to be mobsters in Chicago, to the two pamphlets he found in the basement of the Modesto library that he used to teach himself winemaking.
Almost heartbreaking in his brevity, the only comment regarding his parents is:
“On June 21, 1933, both my father and mother passed away.”
According to local authorities, it was ruled a murder-suicide. Perhaps this contributed to his desire for privacy in both family life and business practices. His granddaughter Stephanie, gives a brief interviewthat shows his committment to family and reveals that fifteen Gallos currently work for the company. (Gina Gallo, who is the most present face in the media, is the grandaughter of Julio Gallo.)
PBS’s Frontline details some other legendary Ernest Gallo storiesinvolving everything from “What’s the word? Thunderbird!” to his political support of Bob Dole, President Clinton, and other candidates.
Word is that Joe, Matt, Gina, Stephanie and the rest of the family/company have no plans to go public or make any major changes to business practices. I encourage anyone in the trade to visit the Frei Ranch facility if they ever get the chance. Its truly an incredible feat of design and scale. (Unfortunately, it is not open to the public and I seriously doubt they’ll change their mind on that anytime soon.) Consumers can make appointments to tour their Barelli Creek Vineyard in Alexander Valley, which I’ll bet is well worth the $45 price. The hospitality and education staff at Gallo is top notch and do a terrific job all around.
Not to mention the marketing crew! Talk about advertising innovators throughout the years. Just to give you an idea, visit Carlo Rossi’s myspace page. Genius.
Everyone in the US wine industry owes a great deal to the Gallo brothers and their vision. As I read all of the incredible stories and tributes to Ernest Gallo, I regret that I never had a chance to meet him in person. If nothing else, just to say a quick thanks for all of his hard work and determination in the face of some formidable times.
Maybe they have internet access up there?
Dear Mr. Gallo,