My visit to Gallo
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.