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Ernest & Julio Gallo

Co-Founders of E & J Gallo Winery

Ernest & Julio GalloBrothers Ernest and Julio Gallo were born in modest circumstances on the edge of California’s Central Valley—children of an Italian immigrant family with big dreams for the future. Together, with their wives, children and grandchildren, they spent a lifetime building a business that made Gallo the best-known name in California winemaking.

The boys grew up close to the soil, working in their father’s vineyard in the farming community of Modesto, California. Julio had a home in that vineyard until his death in 1993 and Ernest lived there for many years. Early in life, the brothers adopted a tireless work ethic that served them well throughout their careers.

As the end of Prohibition approached in 1933, the brothers borrowed $5,000 for working capital, went to the library for a book on making wine, and opened a winery in an old railroad shed. Following their natural inclinations, Julio became the grape grower and winemaker while Ernest handled the business of selling the wine.

For the first few years, the Gallos primarily sold bulk wine in barrels bearing their name. In 1941, the first bottled table wines with the Gallo name were produced. Julio continuously pursued his quest for quality and consistency, hoping to create an American appetite for wine. Ernest convinced stores and restaurants to offer Gallo products proudly, and through advertising, helped put wine on more family dinner tables every year.

The E. & J. Gallo Winery was the first to seize the benefits of vertical integration— consolidating the economies of scale and maintaining control over every aspect of the company’s wine, from the vineyard to the glass. The brothers made their own bottles, labels and advertisements—they even delivered the wine in their own trucks.

The Gallos invested continuously in research on winegrowing and winemaking, believing that science supports the art of the winemaker. They believed strongly that the strength of their family was also the strength of their business, and the winery remains privately held today.

Through the decades, Ernest and Julio Gallo built a business and a reputation based on the guarantee of quality and value. In the 1980s, the winery began to expand into international markets, and as of the Gallos’ 2006 induction into the Hall of Honor, the family’s wines are enjoyed in nearly 100 countries around the world.