- Joseph Gallo, president and CEO of the E&J Gallo Winery, brought bullish reassurance to California wine grape growers: “This year we have already signed 10,000 acres of long term contracts for grapes."
- Gallo said the market for U.S. wine could double in the next decade.
- Gallo has a plan to avoid importing bulk wine from foreign suppliers, pointing to what he said was “an astounding number” — the equivalent of 300,000 tons of grapes imported as bulk wine in 2010.
Knowing that California’s growers are facing tough decisions on whether to plant wine grapes or to take part in a nut-growing swarm that’s sweeping the state, a titan in the wine industry brought some bullish reassurance to a Fresno meeting of San Joaquin Valley wine growers.
“This year we have already signed 10,000 acres of long term contracts for grapes,” said Joseph Gallo, president and CEO of the E&J Gallo Winery, the world’s largest family owned winery.
Gallo said he expects continued growth in the wine business. E&J Gallo Winery is expanding capacity to handle grapes and Gallo’s message was aimed at “reducing growers’ uncertainties.”
Gallo added that his company, which has imported wines from abroad, has “a plan to avoid importing bulk wine from foreign suppliers,” pointing to what he said was “an astounding number” — the equivalent of 300,000 tons of grapes imported as bulk wine in 2010.
“Those tons should be grown in California,” he said.
A Gallo plant in Livingston will crush 460,000 tons of grapes this year, Gallo said, and a Fresno plant will crush 535,000 tons.
Gallo was the keynote speaker at a wine and grape industry forum presented by the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association.
It was a rare public appearance for 70-year-old Gallo, a son of Ernest Gallo and a nephew of Julio Gallo.
He talked of his early experiences growing up among the vines in Modesto, then turned to the subject of how his family grew their business by concentrating on making “good tasting” wine that would appeal to consumers, while shunning efforts to promote sales with polished television advertisement.
“The idea was to make a product the consumer wanted to drink,” he said.
While emphasizing that “no one can predict the future,” Gallo said the market for U.S. wine could double in the next decade. Among his reasons: More people have grown up in households where wine is served on other than “special occasions”; there’s been a growth in “lifestyle media” that trumpets wine use, including cooking shows, magazines and blogs; wine is served in more sit-down restaurants and is even being tested at outlets that include Sonic and Starbucks; and “we’re growing better grapes and making better wine.”