Ernest Gallo Did a Fine Job Marketing Wine

Winemaker Ernest Gallo, who built one of the largest wine companies in the world, is dead at 97. With brother Julio, he used the end of Prohibition in the 1930s to sell inexpensive California wine to a growing market. The Gallo company shipped 70 million cases of wine in 2006.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

With our last word in business today, we'll remember a man who solved the problem of growing the American wine industry. Winemaker Ernest Gallo has died. He built one of the largest wine companies in the world. And along with his brother Julio he put California on the world wine map.

Now there was nothing special about their first wine made from a recipe in the public library. There was something distinctive about how the brothers marketed wine.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

It was just prohibition ended in the 1930s, the Gallos worked to change wine's image as an elitist drink. They started with low-end wines, brands like Carlo Rossi and Thunderbird. By the time of Ernest Gallo's death yesterday at the age of 97, his company was selling dozens of different labels, and those included many upscale wines.

In all, the Gallo Wine Company shipped about 70 million cases of California wine last year.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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