Rising from abject poverty in the early 1900s to create the most successful wine company in the world, the Gallo family used hard work, strong values-and crime-to find their success. In GALLO BE THY NAME, biographer Jerome Tuccille takes readers through the Prohibition and Great Depression, following the Gallos as they ride the turbulent currents of history to triumph. ButRising from abject poverty in the early 1900s to create the most successful wine company in the world, the Gallo family used hard work, strong values-and crime-to find their success. In GALLO BE THY NAME, biographer Jerome Tuccille takes readers through the Prohibition and Great Depression, following the Gallos as they ride the turbulent currents of history to triumph. But beneath the shiny steel surface of the Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery swirl rumors of murder and a sweeping story of passion and power....
|Title||:||Gallo Be Thy Name: The Inside Story of How One Family Rose to Dominate the U.S. Wine Market|
|Number of Pages||:||288 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Gallo Be Thy Name: The Inside Story of How One Family Rose to Dominate the U.S. Wine Market Reviews
I found this book to be intriguing from multiple levels: as a Californian, as a wine lover, and as a person who has worked in marketing and branding for years. This book offers a sprawling family saga whose fortune began in the years of Prohibition, overcame murder, suicide, infighting, and lawsuits, and gained their fortune by trampling both the competition and other family members. From "By golly, be jolly, buy Gallo" and "What's the word? Thunderbird!" to the multitude of sophisticated brands you will find on any wine store or supermarket shelf today, the book takes you on the journey of how a business grows and changes with the times, if those at the helm are visionary--and ruthless--enough to make it happen. As one of the Gallo brothers was once quoted: "We didn't do the impossible. We did the obvious." And the obvious usually boiled down to this: Make the wines people want to drink at affordable prices.
Before I read this book, I hadn't realized that Ripple was an actual beverage, though I was pretty sure that Thunderbird was. The former was (is?) a sort of early, carbonated, wine cooler introduced to the public in 1959. Thunderbird was a white port and lemon juice mixture, introduced earlier in the 1950s when a salesman noticed that liquor stores located in African-American neighborhoods in the San Francisco bay area often had lemon juice for sale, which their customers mixed with white port, a fortified wine. And world owes a debt of gratitude to Ernest and Julio Gallo for introducing these products to the world. The first part of the book is pleasantly lurid; it's as much fun as the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. Much of the early part of the book focuses on the violent death of Ernest and Julio's parents. Ernest and Julio were descended from Joe and Susie (nee Celestina Bianco); Joe and his brother Mike were Italian immagrants from the Piedmont region; Susie's parents were from northern Italy too. Mike and Joe were in the wine business before Prohibition. Joe was a nasty piece of work, a wife-beater who was also mean to Ernest and Julio, his older two sons. Mike, despite his abundant criminal connections which came in quite handy during Prohibition, comes across as a much nicer fellow. The Gallo family sold to Al Capone during Prohibition, not always wine itself, but often grapes or some grape-jelly like product that could readily be turned into wine, especially under the plummeting culinary standards that Prohibition induced. Enest took part in some of the sales trips to Chicago. Just as Prohibition was about to be repealed, Joe and Susie turn up dead from gunshot on the property in Fresno that Joe had unexpectly purchased. The official verdict was a murder-suicide with Joe as the perp, but there are some interesting discrepancies (why was the person who first found the bodies not called to testify, how come the gun seems to have been wiped of finger prints? Isn't it interesting that the weapon was the same make and caliber as one Ernest had purchased?)and the author has much fun with this, without shedding much light on the events in my view. Speculations include that Ernest killed Joe over Joe's foot-dragging in making Ernest and Julio partners in the business (but then why was the well-liked Susie killed?), a mob hit over unpaid debts (Joe turned out to have plenty of money and assets at the time of his death; so why would someone well-situated try to avoid paying any mob debts). In the aftermath Ernest and Julio got the business (now legal), possibly stiffing younger brother Joe Jr, much resented by Ernest especially for having been treated well by Joe Sr., out of the fair value of his inheritance, though Joe didn't get anywhere with that argument in court cases from the 1980s. To say that Ernest and Julio made Ripple and Thunderbird is not to say they enjoyed doing so. Ernest, who focused on the business aspects of winery, may not have minded that much, but Julio, in charge of product, certainly did. Julio's goal was to make good table wines, such as the United States had enjoyed prior to Prohibition. Eventually, after decades, the market turned in Julio's favor, and Gallo could also make good wine that was commercially viable. I was struck by how little control even a large winery like the Gallo's had over influencing consumer preferences. The company remains family-owned to this day and is generally either the largest or the second-largest wine maker in the United States.
I felt like I was reading the winery equivalent of The Godfather, especially during the early bootlegging days in Prohibition. It was interesting to see how the inter family and family-to-business dynamics changed over time. I didn't realize the enormous impact they have had on the California wine industry (good and bad), and the increasingly global impact. Ernest's trademark obsession was almost comical in its ridiculousness, especially now that I understand that very few of their wines even mention Gallo on the bottle.
Honestly, kind of lamely written. Although it was interesting to learn how the California's wine region "really" established itself. I'll look for other books with similar topics. Hopefully they will be more captivating.
Interesting information on a controlling personality: Chicago gangster tie-ins, inter family squabbles, and domineering business practices.
Not well-written, and thin on material.
excellant book about the Gallo family empire. Especially since I have grown up in the same town as the family and my family has done business with some of the decendants.
It is great to have a book that references California's Central Valley. More interesting to us that were raised there and saw the wineries.