E and J Gallo has bought well-known Napa winery Louis M Martini for an undisclosed sum, it was announced earlier this week.
Carolyn Martini, CEO and grand-daughter of founder Louis M Martini said it was ‘incredibly difficult’ for a small winery to make any headway in the current market.
Gallo – the world’s biggest winery – will take on production of some 150,000 cases a year. Martini is one of Napa’s oldest properties and its wine has a good reputation. The acquisition is Gallo’s latest move in a campaign to take its image upmarket, from a maker of inexpensive branded wines to a producer of premium varietals.
Earlier in the year Gallo winemaker Gina Gallo told decanter.com she was particularly excited by new cold-climate plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Sonoma Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area). A company spokesman suggested the Pinot would be good enough to rival the best in the world.
Martini’s 275ha of prime plantable land in Napa and Sonoma will supplement Gallo’s already vast portfolio in Sonoma. This will be Gallo’s first major premium acquisition in Napa.
Carolyn Martini said, ‘Gallo understands the value of our family’s contribution and has been very willing to work through all the concerns of the Martini family members and design a structure that works for everyone. Culturally for our company, this is a great fit.’
Martini will retain her title, as will her brother Michael, who is vice president and winemaker.
Robert Gallo, co-president of E and J Gallo said the company ‘intends to continue the tradition of fine Napa and Sonoma wine growing and winemaking established by Louis M Martini and his family.’
Gallo also takes over the Martini buildings on Highway 29, close to the town of St Helena a prime spot on the Napa wine map.
Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies11 September 2002