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My visit to Gallo

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I had the great pleasure of visiting and touring E&J Gallo’s campus in Modesto. Somehow, in all these years, I’d never been, although I’d always wanted to go. So I finally made it. They don’t allow photos in a lot of areas, but here are some I took.

This is the main administration building, built in the 1950s. It’s where the executives have their offices. About 3,500 people are employed on the 360-acre Gallo campus (another 1,500 worldwide).

Visitors to the campus are likely to see peacocks wandering around. This fellow was on the veranda of the administration building.

The underground cellar is of vast scope. Although they permitted me to take photos, for some reason they all came out too dark. The cellar contains 624 four thousand gallon oak tanks, handmade in Italy from Croatian wood. That’s a lot of wine.

Gallo is serious about recycling their bottles. This is a wall of them, wrapped in a weatherproof cover of some kind.

Here’s the warehouse. Railroad trains run right into the building, then lead out to the local rail lines. If you look closely you can see graffiti on the train. The warehouse is 45 acres in size, about 42 football fields. Its holding capacity is 8 million cases, which move through it every 42 days!

The bottling manufacturing plant was one place where I wasn’t allowed to photograph. The first thing you see–and feel–is the assembly line where the bottles, red hot at a temperature of thousands of degrees, are formed. It’s a beautiful sight. Gallo’s is the biggest glass bottling site in America, producing 2 million bottles a day, 24/7. Every bottle is x-rayed for minute cracks. If one is found, the bottle is unceremoniously knocked by a robot arm off the line into disposal chutes. It can be startling to hear the random Whump! of a discarded bottle hitting the bin.

Below is one of dozens, maybe hundreds of 60,000 gallon stainless steel outdoor holding tanks coated in fiberglass. I liked the pattern of the spiral stairwell against the tank.

Finally, this is Joseph E. Gallo, E&J’s CEO since 2001. A very nice man, thoughtful and polite to a fault.

This was truly a memorable visit. I came away more impressed than ever, not just by Gallo’s scope, but by their intelligence, innovativeness and attention to detail.

  1. Like the photos, thanks Steve.

  2. Hi Kathy, it was a fun and informative visit. Thanks.

  3. Did you get his autograph?.. just teasing, sounds like a great visit…

  4. Russ Winton says:

    It’s too bad you didn’t view their crushing facility (huge) south of Modesto near Livingston. An amazing family owned winery.

  5. doug wilder says:

    The Gallo tank farm is the only feature of Modesto visible from the International Space Station…

  6. Steve,will you say more on the visit?
    Doug, what else is in Modesto? From the ground or space?

  7. doug wilder says:

    Kathy, Everyone knows that Modesto is the ‘Gateway to Turlock’!

  8. Kathy, I was stuck by the poverty and sad appearance of Modesto, at least the part I saw. There seemed to be a lot of druggy street people.

  9. doug wilder says:

    Steve, The thing I find surprising is with all that acreage of flat roofs there is not one single photo-voltaic panel visible on Google maps. Their energy consumption must be enormous!

  10. I did the Mechanical design (HVAC) for Gallo’s Modesto warehouse building back in the 80′s. When I first reviewed the plans I thought I had my drafting scale wrong. The building is enormous! Then I saw the rail car entrance…
    And now 30 years later I buy Gallo glass for our wines!

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