I didn’t mention food in the subtitle of the weblog, but, evidenced by an early comment, Eli Edwards knows I’m likely to talk about it. So, here goes:
Well, not directly food, but wine. And growing up.
In my early years in Modesto, we lived about two or three blocks from the primary Gallo winery. Later, in my junior high and high school years, we lived right in front of the Gallo glass factory (they made, and presumably still make, their own bottles). We didn’t move: Gallo purchased the mostly-empty land in the middle. Living in front of a glass factory has one interesting consequence: If it ever suddenly became wholly silent at night, or any other time, we’d know there was some big trouble…
Then, after I left for college, Gallo purchased the whole block of houses and added a cafeteria and parking lot. My parents moved to the good part of town, the junior college district. Where, to make a library connection, my long-time acquaintance Dennis Tucker, who I know mostly from INCOLSA, is now library director–that is, director of learning resources. (Modesto Junior College, and it’s called that, not a “community college,” is–I believe–the oldest junior college in California.)
So (this is becoming a Mark Twainish story) anyway: That’s the big Gallo winery, where they mostly put out all the low-end stuff. (For many years, one of their Gallo’s wine people was an engineer with the same name as my father, also an engineer…just another sidetrack.).
The serious Gallo is Gallo of Sonoma in Healdsburg (and Gina Gallo, the star of Gallo of Sonoma, went to College of Notre Dame while my wife was library director there, and the connections just keep rolling around…)
Gallo of Sonoma turns out some fine wine under its own name. But it also owns a bunch of other labels, some started new, some purchased–most affiliated with a particular region, and mostly offering very good wine. There’s Anapamu, Frei Brothers, Rancho Zabaco, and more.
So here’s my real food post, and a consumer tip: How you can identify most (but not all) Gallo labels that don’t say Gallo on the label.
If the UPC code begins with “85000″ (if the first half of the large numbers under the bar code is 85000), it’s Gallo.
If the UPC code does not begin with 85000, that doesn’t mean it’s not Gallo…but that’s another story.
So if you think Gallo is evil union-busting nasty folks, here’s a way to avoid them. If you think Gallo is family-owned, strongly supportive of the local community, company that consistently turns out good-value wine (and, I believe, has made peace with the UFW), then here’s a way to identify them.