New Gallo Pinot 'will be classed with Burgundy'

  • Thursday 23 May 2002

Gallo – the world's biggest winemaker – is about to release a Pinot Noir that it says will hold its own against the finest Burgundy.

Gina Gallo (pictured) said the company intended to up plantings of Pinot Noir over the next few years. They should increase by some 10-20%, with production going up to 25,000 cases.

'We are very excited about Pinot – we see it as the future,' she told decanter.com at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair earlier this week.

The Gallo winemaker – and grand-niece of 93-year-old patriarch Ernest (her grandfather Julio died some years ago) – said she is particularly excited about plantings in Two Rock in the Sonoma Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area). Here vineyards of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are about to come on stream, in an area called the Petaluma Wind Gap, where Pacific winds create a climate colder than Champagne, and vines are stressed, stunted, and produce small, thick-skinned berries.

'We are excited by Petaluma because Pinot Noir is the holy grail for the winemaker,' international marketing vice president Adam Burck said. 'It's very hard to find the right place to grow it, and we have found it in Petaluma. These vineyards will be classed with the icon vineyards of the world – the Cote d'Or and the best in Burgundy.'

Gallo said she is not worried about overproduction of Pinot Noir and the danger of a glut, as is affecting the California Chardonnay industry at present, with prices plummeting and many growers unable to sell their grapes.

'There is a shortage of Pinot at the moment. There won't be a glut,' Gallo said, adding that Pinot from the Sonoma Russian River appellation was fetching $4,000 per ton.

Over the last three to five years Ernest and Julio Gallo has concentrated on moving the brand upmarket. Twelve per cent of the wines are now estate wines (from a single, company-owned, estate) – a proportion that has doubled in the last three years.

'We released our first estate wine in 1990 – the Ernest and Julio Gallo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – which announced our entry into world-class wines,' Gallo said.

A 2000 vintage Chardonnay from Two Rock is bottle ageing now, and should be released within the next few months. The Two Rock Pinot Noir will be released in 2003.

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