Wine (Magnate) in a Box
March 6, 2007 6:29 PM   Subscribe

The passing away of Ernest Gallo makes front-page news on CNN. What didn't get top billing was the death of Ernest's brother Joseph just two weeks ago (nytS), the youngest of three who was sued by his more famous older brothers for trying to sell cheese under the Gallo name. Joseph was never close to his brothers, despite being raised by them after their parents' murder-suicide. But hey, what's a FPP without a little upside - play the Gallo Food & Wine Matchmaker.
posted by phaedon (18 comments total)
I always favored the Thunderbird family
posted by Postroad at 6:34 PM on March 6, 2007

Jerry Gallo? Jerry Gallo's dead. I'm Jerry Callo. C-A-L-L-O.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:45 PM on March 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

Buffalo '66 was better than Brown Bunny.
posted by First Post at 6:46 PM on March 6, 2007

So this is going to be all name snark, then? Right! Carry on.
posted by Richard Daly at 6:55 PM on March 6, 2007

With the end of Prohibition, the Gallo brothers set out to dominate what was then a relatively small and down-market American wine industry. Ernest wanted the company to be the "Campbell Soup company of the wine industry" and effectively marketed cheap, fortified (20% alcohol content) wines like White Port and Thunderbird in inner city markets. A radio jingle for perhaps the Gallos' most notorious product went like this: "What's the word? /Thunderbird/ How's it sold?/ Good and cold/What's the jive?/ Bird's alive/ What's the price?/ Thirty twice." According to author Ellen Hawkes, who wrote an unauthorized history of the Gallo family called Blood and Wine, Ernest later delighted in telling the story of driving through a tough, inner city neighborhood. Seeing a man on the sidewalk, Gallo rolled down his window and called out, "What's the word?" The immediate answer was, "Thunderbird."
(Sorry. I love this story. I just had to share it.)
posted by jason's_planet at 7:01 PM on March 6, 2007

The brother (Joseph) sounded like a really good guy. First to use methane to help power the farm. Major contributor to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Liked to have big parties with his employees and didn't mind being the butt of jokes.

The other Gallos? Screw 'em. Wouldn't let their own brother use his own damned name to sell his fucking cheese. What, were they afraid it would tarnish their awesome reputation as a bum-winery? They can rot.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:12 PM on March 6, 2007

I really enjoyed this post (and I appreciate the food/wine pairing tool).

Seems like all of the brother's could have benefited from going into business together.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:15 PM on March 6, 2007

I used to love how the one guy would say "Thank you for yer support" at the end of the commericials.

posted by evilcolonel at 8:05 PM on March 6, 2007

Interesting post about the intrigues of a rich dysfunctional family, Blood and Wine.

This amazed me: " they soon learned the craft of commercial winemaking by reading old, pre-Prohibition pamphlets published by the University of California which they retrieved from the basement of the Modesto Public Library. "

The first Gallo ghetto wine I knew about way back in the late 60's was Ripple, which I learned was the homeless alcoholics drug of choice at that time, in NYC anyway.

Painful history there with the Gallo brothers' father murdering their mother, then killing himself; the youngest son, Joseph Jr., then being brought up by his elder brothers and son dying in Vietnam. Sad that the youngest brother, who ran his older brothers' farms for them for 20 years was later denied doing business using his own last name, plus screwed out of his rightful inheritance, pretty outrageous that. Such a long estrangement between brothers is significant and it causes me to speculate, along with the other telling details about what a kind employer he was, that he was the good brother. There must also have been a lot of residual unresolved pain from their parents' brutal deaths.
posted by nickyskye at 8:21 PM on March 6, 2007

Maybe they'll re-animate him to hawk the product.
posted by ninjew at 9:17 PM on March 6, 2007

Among the strangest things I ever heard
Was when a friend of mine said man, lets get some thunderbird
I said whats that? he just started to grin
Slobbered on his shirt, his eyes got dim
He said you got fifty-nine cents?

I said yeah, I got a dollar, but dont be a smart-aleck
I aint gonna spend it on no indian relic
And he said thunderbirds not an old indian trinket,
Its a wine, man, you take it home and drink it.
I said it sure dont sound like wine to me
And he said hed bet me the change from my dollar

We hustled on down to the nearest u-tate-um
The guy wanted my id, I whipped her out and showed him
He got a green bottle from the freezing vault
My friend started doing backward somersaults
Through the cottage cheese

Took it back to his house, started drinkin
Pretty soon I set in to thinkin
Man, this thunderbird tastes yummy, yummy, yummy
And I know its doing good things to my tummy, tum..., t...
Its so you reason when your on that crap

Got a few more bottles, chugged them down
I pulled myself up off the ground
Decided I go see my dearest sweet wife
Who met me at the door with a carving knife
Said get them damn grape peel from between your teeth.

I could see were gonna have a little misunderstanding
I said dear, I better get in touch with you later
She said forget it, man, youre never touchin me again!

Now Ive seen the light and heard the word
And Im staying away from that ol dirty thunderbird
A message come from heaven radiant, and fine,
All I drink now is communion wine
Six days a week

-- Townes van Zandt, "Talking Thunderbird Blues"
(...he sings it better than I type it.)
posted by Old Man Wilson at 9:18 PM on March 6, 2007

Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd
posted by dhartung at 10:17 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wouldn't let their own brother use his own damned name to sell his fucking cheese.

seriously jesus christ, what the hell is wrong with people?
posted by matteo at 12:56 AM on March 7, 2007

Glad to see that Metafilter is always in the mood for a bit of Gallos humour.
posted by Flashman at 2:06 AM on March 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Old Man Wilson, saved me the trouble.
posted by notsnot at 4:01 AM on March 7, 2007

"Marketplace" had a radio interview with Joseph Gallo quite recently.

But really I just want to say how much I like this link title.
posted by of strange foe at 7:04 AM on March 7, 2007

It's sad, but interesting, to see how a lot of money can tear some families apart (McCain and Bronfman come to mind.)
posted by evilcolonel at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2007

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