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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
7 Mar 2007

First the J (Julio) of E & J Gallo passed on, in a 1993 accident on the family's property. Now the E (Ernest) died of natural causes yesterday afternoon at the grand old age of 97. Their younger brother Joseph, the estranged cheesemaker denied the right to use the Gallo name to whom I referred only yesterday in members' forum, died last month. 

Ernest was the most driven wine marketeer the world has known. I met him only once, over a memorable lunch in his private quarters at the company base in Modesto, California. This was in 1994 and he could harldy hear, but he was determined that this would be a one-way exchange of information. My job was to provide him with useful information on the UK market. His was an era in which businesses and information were kept fiercely private.

It is perhaps significant that Gallo lost the crown as world's largest wine company, to another family company Constellation, as Ernest approached the end. The succession route has never been completely clear, with Ernest and Julio's children, the 'G2s' now in the 60s and 70s, never having much of chance to feel the reins of power.

The most heavily promoted G3 is Gina Gallo, star of many a glossy advertisement and someone who is genuinely interested in wine.