"Gallo Be Thy Name"—Ernest & Julio as thugs, winemaking entrepreneurs, and great Americans

When last checked in with author Jerome Tuccille (in July 2008), it was to discuss a new edition of his classic libertarian-movement memoir, It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand.

Now Tuccille is back with a new book that explores the lives and times of Ernest & Julio Gallo, the California brothers who went from relative obscurity to being the biggest winemakers in the world.

Gallo Be Thy Name: The Inside Story of How One Family Rose to Dominate the U.S. Wine Market is a mesmerizing story of true crime, murder, Prohibition, family drama, and capitalism. It is also an engrossing social history of the last 100 years of America and explains how we went from a nation that gulped Thunderbird, Ripple, Boone's Farm and other Gallo-created plonk to a country of refined Chardonnay and Zinfandel sippers.

Approximately 10 minutes. Interview by Nick Gillespie; shot by Meredith Bragg and Dan Hayes and edited by Meredith Bragg.

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  • Mike Laursen||

    Boone's Farm is still with us. It's just called Two-Buck Chuck now.

  • ||

    The best Gallo story is the one that goes like this (from bumwines):

    The history of Thunderbird is as interesting as the drunken effects the one experiences from the wine. When Prohibition ended, Ernest Gallo and his brothers Julio and Joe wanted to corner the young wine market. Earnest wanted the company to become "the Campbell Soup company of the wine industry" so he started selling Thunderbird in the ghettos around the country. Their radio adds featured a song that sang, "What's the word? / Thunderbird / How's it sold? / Good and cold / What's the jive? / Bird's alive / What's the price? / Thirty twice." It is said that Ernest once drove through a tough, inner city neighborhood and pulled over when he saw a bum. When Gallo rolled down his window and called out, "What's the word?" the immediate answer from the bum was, "Thunderbird."

  • ||

    I remember the UFW strike against Gallo. I was growing up in agricultural California, and the strike struck close to home. Teetotalers would cross the picket lines to buy Gallo, and then dump it when they got home.

  • ||

    regarding It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand, an updated title for the younger generation of libertarians could easily be It Usually Begins with Robert Heinlein

    All my libertarian friends were huge heinlein fans in their youth.

  • SIV||

    So there really is a biography of Ernest and Julio Gallo.When I was in 9th grade English class I learned one day (that I actually showed up)a book report was due.Less than 5 minutes before the bell rang I quickly wrote a one page report on a non-existent juvenile biography of the Gallo brothers.I titled the "book" Ernest and Julio Gallo:Grape Stomping Boys.

    My borderline-illiterate English teacher gave me an "A".I showed the graded report off to my fellow students and eventually to faculty and administrators.Fucking bitch's contract was not renewed the next year.

  • ||

    It annoys me that you can get Chardonnay but not Ripple. At least Ripple had fruit flavors, I don't know what the hell that Chardonnay stuff is.

  • ||

    As long as there are 17 year olds with 21 year old friends/siblings, there will be Boone's Farm.

  • ||

    As an under-aged teenager (legal drinking age in NY was 18)I found Richard's Wild Irish Rose to be superior to Ripple and Thunderbird. It had a superior bouquet and didn't make you gag after the first gulp. Also, because they sponsored George Hound Dog Lorenz on the radio,

  • Missy||

    They support Nancy Pelosi with big donations. Look it up at

    That's doesn't exactly fit "great Americans" in my book.


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