Wine magazine names Joseph Gallo of Modesto its person of the year

jnsbranti@modbee.comNovember 19, 2012 

WINE

CEO of E&J Gallo Winery, Joseph Gallo at the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association's annual meeting at Pardini's Restaurant Friday, Nov. 18, in Fresno, Calif.

GARY KAZANJIAN / THE FRESNO BEE

— Joseph E. Gallo, E.&J. Gallo Winery’s president and chief executive officer, has been named Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2012 Person of the Year.

Gallo, 71, has led the Modesto company — the world’s largest family owned winery — since 2001. His father, Ernest, and uncle Julio founded the firm in 1933.

In selecting Gallo, the influential wine trade publication credited him with reinventing the company, creating the largest exporter of California wine, expanding an expansive import business and developing a powerful spirits trade.

The magazine described Gallo himself as “softspoken, preternaturally calm, philosophically inclined, with a probing mind.” “Never impulsive, thoughtfully analytic, Gallo waits patiently for his opportunities, then pounces,” Wine Enthusiast wrote in its current edition.

E.&J. Gallo Winery sells an estimated 80 million cases a year, with revenues of $3.4 billion, according to the magazine. The company imports wine from 14 nations and exports it to 90 countries. “Gallo’s Carlo Rossi brand of red wines is the top imported wine brand in China, with 2011 sales of approximately 1 million cases,” the magazine wrote.

It also praised the company for producing Barefoot, “the world’s top-selling wine brand.” Acquired in 2005 under Joseph Gallo’s leadership, Barefoot sells an estimated 16 million cases a year, making it the top-selling brand in history.

Joseph Gallo has worked 47 years for the family business, and the magazine lauded his business prowess. With the aid of his son, Ernest J. Gallo, the magazine said Gallo “made perhaps the most audacious move in the company’s history: a foray into the highly competitive spirits business.”

In 2007, it launched New Amsterdam gin, whose sales hit 700,000 cases last year. That brand added vodka in 2011, and those sales since have topped 1 million cases.

Gallo’s Familia Camarena tequila started in 2010, and it sold 150,000 cases in its first year. This summer, it introduced Shellback Caribbean rum from Barbados.

E.&J. Brandy long has been America’s largest brandy brand, with a reported 4 million cases sold per year. Those brandy, gin, vodka, tequila and rum sales make the company one of America’s leading spirits producers, and the magazine suggests that a Gallo whiskey could be next.

Modesto remains E.&J. Gallo’s headquarters and its main bottling and shipping facility. There are more than 5,000 Gallo employees worldwide, more than half of whom are in Stanislaus County.

The company produces wines at numerous locations, including in Livingston and in Fresno, Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties. It makes more than 60 brands, including assorted table, varietal, dessert and sparkling wines.

It owns nine wineries in California and Washington and more than 16,000 acres of California vineyards. Wine Enthusiast Magazine, which launched in 1988, is the world’s largest periodical devoted exclusively to wine and spirits.

Last year, the magazine named Chris Indelicato, president and CEO of Manteca’s DFV Wines (formerly known at Delicato), as it 2011 American Man of the Year. Indelicate was lauded for doubling the amount of its shipments and making that winery America’s seventh largest.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or (209) 578-2196.

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