Family is everything. And no one holds that in more esteem than Stephanie Gallo, third generation of the Gallo family who works as the Vice President of Marketing for the E&J Gallo Winery, the world's largest family-owned winery and the largest exporter of California wine. The Nicaraguan and Italian first worked in sales at the company, before earning her MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and using that to fuel her success at the winery. For her work ethic and family values, Stephanie is this week's Inspiring Latina!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was fortunate to grow up in a multigenerational household that included my maternal Nicaraguan grandparents who continue to be an integral part of my life and have had a big influence on my identity today. My affinity for Hispanic culture came from them, while my father's side of the family, the winemakers, is rooted in Italian culture. Although both sets of grandparents came from different backgrounds, they share the same values: importance of family, respect, love, hard work, and faith.
What made you want to get into the wine business?
Growing up, we were encouraged to try other things, but I always knew that I would be part of the family business at the Winery. My father and grandfather always asked for my opinion on wine, packaging and other business decisions, such as brand promotion, and I really enjoyed it. I interned at the Winery, spent time out in the sales field and realized marketing was my passion. For me, there is nothing more gratifying than working for the family business.
What's the hardest part about your job? What's the best part?
The greatest challenge of the job is also the most exciting part. We stay ahead of what wine novices and lovers are looking for next. It’s an amazing time to be in the wine industry because it is going through an explosive period of growth. Now, we have consumers, led by Millennials, bucking trends by adopting non-traditional flavor profiles, such as sweeter wines, and enjoying wine in more social settings in a variety of formats like boxes, single serves and tetra packs. And the Gallo family, as always, continues to lead the way in providing the wines that Americans want to drink.
Another great part of my job is being able to give back to the community with programs like Gallo Family Vineyards’ Every Cork Counts campaign. This legacy hunger-relief program benefits Meals On Wheels Association of America and its mission to end senior hunger by 2020. I love my job.
What has your family instilled in you that helps you succeed today?
Values are the most treasured legacy left by my family and they are really what keep me going. Since I was a child, love, respect, humility, education, capitalizing on opportunities and being thankful for those opportunities have been important values that I hold. They are, in fact, similar to Gallo’s corporate values, which are integrity, respect, humility, innovation, commitment and teamwork.
Give us a background on Gallo Wines -- Did you always want to work in the family business? What made you want to?
I share my family’s passion for making great wine. Gallo was co-founded 80 years ago by my grandfather Ernest and great uncle Julio after Prohibition ended. It all began while they were traveling the country selling grapes from the family vineyard; but their real passion was wine. They taught themselves how to make it and eventually built a winery that wound up putting wine on America’s tables and American wines on the map.
This year, I was able to celebrate an incredible family milestone with the 50th anniversary of the wine that became America’s first truly iconic Red Blend. Gallo Family Vineyards Hearty Burgundy has been released in a special limited-edition bottle that harkens back to the flavors of the original blend. To be a part of this legacy and to be able to pay homage to my grandfather and great uncle’s work is really rewarding. Gallo is now the largest family-owned winery in the world and I love being able to contribute to growing our long-standing tradition.
What do you love most about being Latina?
Latinas in general are demanding, have high standards for both themselves and their loved ones, and always want the best for their family. I learned that from my mother and grandmother and I deeply identify with that.
Do you know an Inspiring Latina? Nominate them at InspiringLatinas@Latina.com!