A Gazillion Gallo Guzzlers
By Joseph Baca
Mention “Gallo wines” at a tasting and you'll illicit a chuckle ... or something more deprecating. At a time when people sip $6 Starbucks frappuccinos and pontificate about luxury wines, there's a disconnect between the wines Americans are consuming and those they claim to consume. Have we become a nation of people so pretentious that we're lying about the wines we drink? Because, truth be told, one in every four bottles of wine consumed in the U.S. is produced by Gallo—yet nobody will fess up to drinking the stuff. Will the real Gallo consumers please stand up!
In 1933, brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo founded E.&J. Gallo Winery, which is today the largest wine company in the world. Based in Modesto, Calif., it produces 75 million cases a year. In comparison, New Mexico produces 350,000 gallons yearly (almost 147,059 cases)—Albuquerque accounts for about 120,000 gallons (50,420 cases) of that. And although local winery Gruet is fairly large, it accounts for about 80,000 cases annually.
Not impressed? Review these staggering statistics.
Gallo purchases two-thirds of California’s grapes. Contrary to popular belief, Napa Valley produces only 4 percent of California’s wine. With Gallo's considerable production power, California produces 90 percent of the wine in the United States, which is fourth in world wine production behind France, Italy and Spain. That makes Gallo the equivalent of the fourth-largest wine-producing country in the world.
Gallo’s glass factory produces 2.5 million bottles a day—just shy of a billion bottles a year. It also produces a billion aluminum screw tops to seal them. Gallo ships more than 70 labels to 90 countries. It owns a trucking company that delivers a million tons of grapes during the crush season, which amounts to about 900 truckloads a day. Gallo can store 500 million gallons at its Modesto facility, which is closer in appearance to an oil refinery than a winery.
Initially, Gallo made a fortune with jug wines like "Hearty Burgundy" and "Pink Chablis," as well as with fortified wines such as Thunderbird and MD 20/20. The company furthered its wine empire with Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers and a marketing campaign of commercials that became a pop-culture phenomenon in the ’80s.
Gallo's made huge bounds in quality in recent years with its Gallo Family Vineyards. The line of luxury wines based out of Sonoma includes imports like Red Bicyclette and Ecco Domani, brands that are world-class and have garnered bushels of awards.
So, America, there's no need to be ashamed. Just raise your hand and repeat after me: "My name is ___ and I'm a Galloholic."
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