US wine giant, E & J Gallo Winery (Gallo), announced this month its intention to purchase Courtside Cellars of San Miguel, California.
Gallo is among the largest exporters of California wine and its latest acquisition has been done with the intention of producing up to two million cases a year of its own wines, many of which are aimed at the world’s fastest-growing market, China.
The twelve-year-old Courtside winery will focus on the company’s continued growth on California’s Central Coast, according to Gallo, which announced no purchase price. The sale includes 34 acres of land and a winery capable of crushing 60,000 tonnes of grapes.
Gallo says it’s been expanding its presence in the California Central Coast American Viticulture Area (AVA) over the past few years and considers the region to be a key part of its premium wine strategy.
Earlier this year, Gallo purchased more than 300 acres of AVA vineyards. Last year, the company bought Edna Valley Vineyard which produces one of the best-selling Chardonnay brands in the US.
In 2004, Gallo purchased Bridlewood Estate Winery in Santa Barbara County.
Courtside Cellars will be keeping its San Luis Obispo facility where it will build up its Tolosa Winery brand into fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay estates, as well as offer custom wine services, Gallo says.
As well as exports, Gallo imports to the US wines from eight of the major wine growing countries.
Gallo has expanded its portfolio to include distilled spirits with the introduction of New Amsterdam Gin and Familia Camarena Tequila.
In China, the company sells six different brands of wines, Canyon Road, Carlo Rossi, Dancing Bull, Gallo Family Vineyards, McWilliam’s and Rivercrest.
Labour shortage reshapes industry
California farmers have warned for years of a future of fruit rotting without enough skilled pickers and packers. This year, the evidence seems stronger that the workforce is shrinking, and some say the future could see more mechanisation and imported crops.
Wine country labourers are among California’s best-paid farm workers, earning well above minimum wages because the commodity demands a highly skilled and reliable workforce. That in itself will increase costs significantly, one reason for rationalisation of the wine-making industry.
Vintners are investing in costly machines to help prepare for a future in which recruiting able workers will become more difficult. The trend is for mechanisation to be so good that it doesn’t affect the quality of the wine.
University of California-Davis farm labour research has found that the farming community has hit “a period of uncertainty.”
Labour changes are hard to evaluate because of the complex patterns of California farm work, but the recent slowdown in Mexico-US migration has reduced the arrival of newcomers, one reason for the labour shortage.
from Teresa Hung, Los Angeles Office