We don't often get the opportunity to meet someone whose family changed an important segment of the American economy. Last week at a marketing conference that my company hosted,
I had the true pleasure and sincere honor to spend time at dinner and during our
conference with Stephanie Gallo. Her
grandfather, Ernest Gallo, was the most influential individual in the U.S. wine industry and a major force globally.
Ernest, along with his
brother Julio Gallo founded the E&J Gallo wine company shortly after
prohibition in 1933. Stephanie mentioned that it was her great grandmother who lent about $5,000 so they could begin their company. Without any real knowledge of wine making, they turned to the library to learn some basics about fermenting grapes. It reminds me of a story I heard from Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield from Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. They too started their business and didn't know the first thing about making ice cream.
A Powerful Work Ethic
Like my own
strong affection for my grandfather George, Stephanie talked with deep respect about Ernest who even
into his last few years was bubbling with marketing ideas that could ferment growth. He worked well into his 90's, loved his chosen profession and planted seeds of opportunity for generations to come.
What an honor to talk with her about the Gallo family
heritage. Wine is clearly in her DNA and she is an exuberant marketer who loves the work and the chance to make a difference in the larger wine community. Stephanie is the Vice President of Marketing
for the Gallo enterprise. Everyone in the wine marketing community that knows her has always spoken highly of her. I got a chance
to learn why.
She has a remarkably optimistic view of the wine industry
which is a wonderful trait for someone with her responsibilities. She remarked that only 3 out of 10
Americans drink wine, the chance for growth of the category is overflowing. With a keen wit, I can see why so many
marketing professionals admire her and want to be part of her organization.
|Stephanie Gallo and Jeffrey Slater|
At the marketing
conference, I literally had a front row seat to hear her share her story about
the Gallo mission of democratizing wine.
Wine like few other categories has an elitist background. Like theatre and
opera, wine has searched for ways not to be seen as a beverage for the rich and to get down from the pedestal. The Gallo family has strived to find ways so
that wine has become a beverage for the average Joe or Jane.
Many of the wine cognoscenti think of recent trends like
Moscato grapes or sweet red blends as appealing to an uninformed wine drinker. You notice them turning up their noses at the very idea. I see it differently. I
admire new and inventive ways that a category can bring new users inside the
tent and build a bigger base of potential customers.
From the insight...
“I love wine, but not when it is hot. I drink other beverages. If only there was a wine I could drink when it is warm in daytime and in casual social settings.”
This foray into new ways to serve wine like Barefoot Refresh proclaims
on the label, “it’s okay to put this over ice” is a wink to millions of
consumers who are hesitant to enjoy wine on their own terms.
I shared with Stephanie a personal story about their new
super successful Apothic red wine. It is part of the sweet red blend trend that doesn't appeal to me. However, my wife has found the Apothic brand to be a perfect wine
that she enjoys without apology. She loves the taste and I proudly buy it for
her. Although I try to get my wife to taste other wines, this wine has become her home base or house red. Apothic was designed as to meet a certain taste profile and my wife just
happens to be that target.
Our Grandfather's Generation
Ernest Gallo was a man from my grandfather’s generation. Both were born in the earliest part of the twentieth century. Both men were hard working pioneers who cared passionately about their family and with remarkable dedication to their business. I bet
they would have enjoyed each other’s company. I can imagine Poppa George taking photographs of Ernest pouring wine for his family.
I know one thing, their
grandchildren enjoyed meeting and getting a chance to share a glass or two and to talk about the marketing of wine.
|Gallo Wine Ads from the 1960's and 1970's|
Labels: Apothic, Barefoot, Barefoot Refresh, Ernest & Julio Gallo, Food and Wine Moments, Gallo Wine, Marketing Moments, Moscato, Stephanie Gallo, wine