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Gallo family fortune close to $10bn

The Gallo family, which owns one of the world's biggest wine producers, has been named as one of the richest familiies in the US in a new ranking by Forbes magazine.

Gina Gallo, granddaughter of company co-founder Julio Gallo

The winemaking operation that Ernest and Julio Gallo began in a shed in California in the 1930s has turned into a family empire worth an estimated $9.7bn.

The Gallos ranked 25th in the 2014 Forbes list of America’s Richest Families.

That puts them in the same wealth bracket as the Busch family that used to own Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch and the Brown family, of Jack Daniel’s producer Brown-Forman and former owner of Fetzer vineyards in California.

E&J Gallo Winery has estimated annual sales of $3.6bn and employs more than 5,000 people globally. It owns nearly 6,500 hectares of vineyards and has nine wineries spread across California and Washington state.

Gallo has continued to acquire assets in the last few years, in contrast to one of its biggest rivals, Constellation Brands, owner of Robert Mondavi wines, which has been more focused on offloading the bulk of its international business.

In April this year, Gallo acquired Ledgewood Creek winery and vineyard in Solano County, California, for an undisclosed fee. It bought the 162-hectare estate, with 90 hectares under vine, as part of a company strategy to sell more premium wines in the US.

Written by Chris Mercer

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