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Gallo PR tries to distance winery and Gallo Cattle Co., but no proof available.

This article is about a request for a retraction in a situation where there is no verification for — or against — the reason behind the request. However, the search for the verification, turned out to be an interesting journey and an amusing article for people interested in all things Gallo.

On Jul 21, 2020, I received an email from a PR person employed by the E. & J. Gallo Winery who objected to this table …Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 7.41.25 AM

… which was part of this recent WII article: At least 244 California wineries and vineyards received between $145 & $328 million from Paycheck Protection Program

The email read, in part:

“In reading your recent recap of California Wine-Related Recipients of the Federal Payroll Protection Program, section 4 in blue lists “Gallo Cattle Company” as 5 notable companies associated with wine or a winery. I wanted to clarify that Gallo Cattle Company, LP is not affiliated in any way with E. & J. Gallo Winery and has no association with us or the wine industry.”

The table did not imply a relationship. Which is why the cattle company was not listed with wineries or vineyards, but in a separate table. That’s why I emailed the Gallo rep back asked a “yes or no” question.

“Am I correct that the Cattle Company is owned by the family, but has nothing to do with the wine?”

The Gallo rep replied:

“The principals and owners of Gallo Cattle Company, LP have no affiliations or ownership interest in E. & J. Gallo Winery. Is a retraction possible in tomorrow’s edition? Thank you.”

When I get a nuanced reply to a yes/no question, flags go up.

Journalism done correctly requires a “trust but verify” outlook.

The briefest of glances at today’s current headlines is ample proof that just because someone in authority says something is so, does not verify the statement’s accuracy.

So, in a “trust but verify vein,” I asked the Gallo rep:

“My understanding from a bit of research is that the Cattle Company was part of the lawsuit against Joseph Gallo which E. & J. won. If that is not the case, then who owns it?”

I g0t no reply.

So, after a bit of digging, refreshed my memory and found that — indeed Gallo Cattle Company (and Gallo Farms) — was part of the extended family legal battle eventually won by Ernest and Julio Gallo against their little brother Joseph.

However, the Joseph and his son Michael (and members of that side of the Gallo Family) retained ownership of the cows and the farm. Public documents could not reveal what, if anything, the Joseph Gallo heirs own, control, or manage.

On the other hand,  publicly available documents listed only officers of the business entities. The only exception was a decades old limited partnership document from the Cattle Company and obviously incomplete and out-of-date. Scroll down for links to that and other documents.

The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

WII’s fairly extensive research of public documents that identified a few specific family members but did not identify crossover ownership or control. That indicates that the E. & J. Gallo PR person could be accurate.

Or not.

The E. & J. Gallo PR person offered no proof. WII’s research found many anecdotal pieces of information. But the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

It all started with Gallo Tank Lines

The research turned up a number of interesting things that Wine Industry Insight may develop into future articles.

However, our research stumbled across several the historical minutiae/nuggets at the California Secretary of State’s office showing how the E. & J. Gallo Winery started life in 1942 as Gallo Tank Lines (this document and others below are available to premium subscribers to Wine Executive News.

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Gallo Tank Lines then changed its name to E. & J. Gallo Winery in 1944 and merged with Valley Agricultural Company in 1945.

For the curious, this is the latest (2020) E. & J. Gallo Winery Corporate filing.

Today, new generations of the Gallo family have innovated and started numerous entrepreneurial ventures that would have astounded the founders of Gallo Tank Lines.

Gallo Cattle Company’s roots in the bitter Ernest and Julio lawsuit against brother Joseph

To be fair, the bitter battle to oust brother Joseph from the family may be the sort of almost-ancient history that newcomers to the industry may not know about.

It’s a history that the late Ernest and Julio Gallo — and the winery — have long tried to distance themselves from.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 22, 2007 Joseph Gallo, 87; California dairy magnate lost legal fight with his winemaker brothers:

While managing Ernest and Julio Gallo’s vineyards in Livingston, southeast of Modesto, for more than 20 years, Joseph accumulated his own holdings. By 1967, he had struck out on his own with a cattle ranch and vineyards. The first of his five dairies in Merced County followed in 1979.

After establishing a cheese-production company in 1982, he began selling the product to consumers under the label Joseph Gallo Cheese.

His older brothers sued him — claiming trademark infringement — and denounced the cheese as an inferior product that could damage the winery’s reputation. The lawsuit also referred to him as an unknown cheese maker, and the charges infuriated him, Whiting said.

“I have only got one name,” Joseph told reporters outside the courtroom in 1988. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to look for another one.”

The federal judge ruled that using the Gallo name confused consumers, leading them to think that the cheese was connected to the winery. He ordered the name changed on the package. Now sold under the Joseph Farms label, it is the largest-selling retail-brand cheese produced in California, according to the company.

Joseph countersued, arguing that his brothers had used their parents’ estate to launch their E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto. He claimed that they owed him a third of the business, which had grown into one of the world’s largest wine-making operations.

Dismissing the suit, the hearing judge lamented that the best witness — the Gallos’ late father — “was out of the reach of the court’s process,” The Times reported in 1988.

Joseph Gallo eventually turned over the reins to his son, Michael. According to the L.A Times article Joseph, “was a very optimistic person and very hard-working,” said his son, Michael, who took over as chief executive officer of Joseph Gallo Farms when his father retired. “He believed in leadership by example and would literally work right alongside his employees.”

Gallo Cattle Company

There are no online records for Gallo Farms with the California Secretary of State (S0S). However, SoS records in 1993 show that Michael Gallo was the general partner of Gallo Cattle Company and that many family members in Joseph’s line owned parts of it.

[Document images here for premium subscribers]

In 2000, Michael Gallo ceased to be the managing partner of Gallo Cattle, and turned that role over to Western Assets LLC where he continues to be the managing partner. The ownership of that is unknown.

[Document images here for premium subscribers]


Full California Secretary of State Documents

[Documents  for premium subscribers]

  • E. & J. Gallo Winery as Gallo Tank Lines, 1942
  • Tank Lines then changed its name to E. & J. Gallo Winery, 1944
  • Winery merger with Valley Agricultural Company,1945
  • For the curious, this is the latest (2020) E. & J. Gallo Winery Corporate filing.
  • Michael Gallo, general partner of Gallo Cattle, 1993
  • Michael Gallo ceases to be the managing partner of Gallo Cattle, 2000
  • Western Assets LLC  becomes managing partner of Gallo Cattle, Michael Gallo is managing partner of Western Assets