This week the Family Business Office, for its twenty first edition of Focus On World Family Business Leaders rather than concentrate on an individual family business leader brings you fourth generation world leader of wine making company Ernest and Julio Gallo.
E.&J. Gallo Winery is the unrivaled giant among family-owned wineries worldwide. In every aspect of the business—sales, exports, vineyard acreage, research teams and financial resources—it dwarfs its nearest competitors. Yet the huge company, estimated to have revenues of $2.7 billion, has been remarkably nimble in anticipating and responding to shifting consumer tastes. Under the leadership of the second generation and with plenty of energy from the younger generations, the company has been reinvigorated. Once identified exclusively with low-end wines, Gallo is now a major competitor in the premium wine market. As it celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, Gallo is busy solidifying its reputation as a maker of fine wines while simultaneously expanding its portfolio of domestic and foreign brands.
The Gallos are America’s first family of wine, not as flashy as others perhaps, but a constant presence, always seemingly knowing what consumers are thirsty for and delivering a quality product. For 83 years and four generations, the Gallos have been making and selling wine, and it’s hard to imagine that America would be the world’s biggest wine-consuming nation without them.
It began with Ernest and Julio, two young brothers working with their father in California during Prohibition, shipping grapes to Italian-American families like theirs who wanted to make wine at home.
Julio died in 1993, Ernest in 2007. Ernest’s son Joe, who had been in sales for the company, took over as CEO. Julio’s son Bob serves as co-chairman of the board, and today 14 family members work in the company. They have continued the move toward quality, acquiring top estates in California and Washington and importing premium foreign wines. They currently own 15 wineries and 20,000 acres of vineyards and market approximately 100 different brands.
They still know what sells—in 2005, they acquired Barefoot Cellars, whose wines have been a runaway success, reaching 18 million cases in sales last year. But they have also expanded on the premium end, with a new focus on luxury imported brands. Having the largest family-owned wine company in the world, the Gallos plan to help shape American palates for years to come.
At the turn of the 21st century, Gallo Winery was well-positioned from the low to high ends of the wine market. Even under the direction of the second generation of Gallo family leadership, the winery was clearly following the direction of its founders–Ernest Gallo once said, “We don’t want most of the business. We want it all.”
( All factual and statistical information presented in this blog has been obtained from an extract of an article www.Familybusinessmagazine.com and www.winespectator.com ) Follow us on our Facebook page and Family Business Office website at www.familybusiness.org.mt
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