While Kendall-Jackson sells off land and Mondavi slashes jobs in what are seen as protectionist measures against the ricketty economy, Gallo has just signed a new European distribution deal.

The Sonoma-based wine giant has just signed up UK distributor Waverly Wines & Spirits, to represent and distribute the E&J Gallo wine portfolio the on-trade throughout the UK.

According to Milo Shelley, a vice president at Gallo, this means UK consumers can expect to see more Gallo wines in both restaurants and pubs. He told decanter.com, ‘This is a significant opportunity for UK consumers to be exposed to more of Gallo’s fine wines.’

Gallo’s further expansion and investment in Europe is in contrast to the measures recently taken by several other California wineries including Robert Mondavi Winery and Kendall Jackson.

Mondavi, after announcing major restructuring a few weeks ago, has also announced plans to lay off 10% of its workforce – approximately 100 people. It is also closing the Robert Mondavi Wine and Food Center, a training facility in Orange County.

The company cited poor earnings and a weak economy, as well as an oversupply of grapes and intense price competition as impetus for the overhaul. Last year Mondavi put 640ha of vineyard land and two surplus winery facilities on the market. This was in addition to the La Famiglia de Robert Mondavi in Napa, which was put on the market in 2001 and has just found a buyer.

Kendall Jackson has also taken what many see as protectionist measures in the current unstable economic environment, last week announcing it is putting 360ha of undeveloped land up for sale in Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties.

Winery spokesman George Rose said, ‘The properties don’t fit any existing programs and, given the economic climate, they don’t fit our strategic plan.’

Written by Kerin O’Keefe14 April 2003