02/01/2013 12:46 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Winery Of The Year: Modesto-Based Gallo Takes Top Prize

MODESTO -- The praise keeps coming for E.&J. Gallo Winery of Modesto, which shared the latest Winery of the Year award from a leading expert on the California industry.

Gallo and Constellation Brands received the 2012 honor Wednesday in Sacramento from Jon Fredrikson, who tracks wine sales from his office in Woodside in San Mateo County.

"Gallo has been smoking for years," Fredrikson said at the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. "It has pioneered markets on behalf of everybody. It has broken down countless trade barriers. ... Everyone else gets to follow after them."

Gallo increased shipments 9 percent in 2011 and 5 percent last year, Fredrikson said. The family-owned company does not publicize its financial performance, but Wine Enthusiast magazine put annual sales at $3.4 billion and volume at 80 million cases.

The Barefoot label continues to lead the way for the winery, which has dozens of brands from the San Joaquin Valley, premium coastal regions and abroad. Among the products are Turning Leaf, Redwood Creek, Gallo Family Vineyards, Louis M. Martini, Frei Brothers, Dancing Bull and Carlo Rossi.

The company could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The award reinforces the importance of winemaking and other farm-based businesses to the Modesto area's economy. Gallo employs about 3,000 people here and about 5,000 total.

Modesto-area wineries have won the honor six times in the last 11 years. It has gone one or more times to Gallo, Bronco Wine Co., The Wine Group and DFW Wines.

The latest award came a couple of months after Joseph Gallo, the winery's president and chief executive officer, was named 2012 Person of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Its 2011 award went to Chris Indelicato, president and CEO at DFV Wines.

Constellation, based in New York state, has California wine brands that include Robert Mondavi, Rex Goliath, Estancia, Clos du Bois and Ravenswood.

Other experts at the symposium said the California industry's outlook is good: Global demand is outstripping supply, U.S. consumers brought more wine than ever last year and the state's 2012 grape harvest might have set a record.

"What I was excited about was this solid growth in the industry," said Stephen Kautz, president of Ironstone Vineyards of Murphys, whose family also operates a winery and vineyards in the Lodi area. "It was a positive statement for our industry."

Bee news services contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at or (209) 578-2385.



Modesto-area companies have won six of the last 11 Winery of the Year awards from California industry expert Jon Fredrikson:

--2012: E.&J. Gallo Winery, Modesto, and Constellation Brands, which is based in New York state and owns wineries in California

--2011: DFV Wines, north of Manteca, formerly known as Delicato

--2008: Gallo

--2004: The Wine Group, whose holdings include the former Franzia Winery near Ripon

--2003: Bronco Wine Co., south of Ceres

--2002: Bronco ___