Practical Winery
58-D Paul Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903-2054
phone:415/479-5819 · fax:415/492-9325
email: Office@practicalwinery.com
 

September/October 2000


Fifty Years of Research at the World's Largest Winery

Arthur Caputi, Jr.


"In 2000, the American Society for Enology & Viticulture selected Art Caputi, retired vice president of technical services at the Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery as its Merit Award recipient because of his significant contributions to the Society and the wine and grape industry for 50 years. Former ASEV president and board member for 20 years, Caputi “tirelessly worked to develop and enrich the entire Society as well as the industry.” — Jane Robichaud, President, American Society for Enology & Viticulture

Sir Isaac Newton once remarked that if he had seen farther than other men, it was because he had stood upon the shoulders of giants. While I don’t claim to see farther than anyone else, I certainly have been privileged to stand upon the shoulders of giants. The shoulders of those giants, Ernest Gallo, Julio Gallo, and Charles Crawford, were remarkably broad and strong, and they supported not only me, but hundreds of others as well at the E&J Gallo Winery.

A look at the roster of presidents of the American Society of Enology & Viticulture (ASEV) over the last 50 years will reveal almost a dozen who worked at Gallo at one time or another. It would be impossible to be surrounded by individuals of such talent and ability and not learn something.

In June 1950, as a 15-year-old high school student with an interest in chemistry, I first stepped into the small laboratory of the E&J Gallo Winery. Although the facilities were relatively modest and dedicated primarily to winemaking and analyses, Charles Crawford (vice president, 1942–2000) and R.B. “Brad” Webb had already instituted a small research program.

Displayed prominently on a wall was a plan for a new and expanded laboratory that would provide additional space for research work. The foundation had been laid years before. When they founded the company, Ernest and Julio Gallo had determined that they would build the largest winery in the world, and they understood that technology would play a pivotal role in that endeavor.

Making the dream come true
Much of the technological expertise that existed in the wine industry prior to 1920 was lost during Prohibition, and precious little viticulture and enology research had been done anywhere in the U.S. from 1920 to 1933. Hiring Charles Crawford in 1942 was the Gallo’s first step in building the kind of scientific capabilities they knew would be necessary if their dream was to become a reality.

Crawford graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in the same class as many other individuals who would become technological leaders of the wine industry in the post WWII years, including Louis M. Martini, (Louis M. Martini Winery), Myron Nightingale (Beringer Vineyards), Ze’ev Halperin (Christian Brothers), and Aram Ohanesian.

Until the viticulture and enology program at U.C. Davis became firmly established, the Food Science program at UC Berkeley was the training ground for many scientists who ultimately went into the wine business. Crawford, an ASEV charter member, past president, and Merit Award recipient, had a deep interest in research and the potential it held to help build the winery. Fortunately Ernest Gallo was of a like mind, and he told Crawford that he “considered research like savings. If you wait until you need it, it’s already too late.”

Growing quality grapes in the Central Valley
Ernest and Julio understood something else that would be of critical importance, not only to Gallo but also to the California wine industry as a whole — that even the most sophisticated winemaking techniques in the world could not produce a superior wine from inferior grapes.

The early table wines Gallo bottled came from Napa and Sonoma and were of excellent quality. However, if their dream to become the world’s largest winery was to be achieved, table wine grapes of good quality would have to be available from the Central Valley as well. But the grape acreage that survived Prohibition in this area was generally less than ideal for table wine production.

Although the Thompson Seedless variety was very popular with Central Valley growers because it could be used for table grapes, raisins, or dessert wine, it clearly was not suitable for any kind of quality white table wine.

A similar situation existed for many red varieties that were not appropriate for good quality table wines. Despite the fact that dessert wines commanded the greatest part of the wine market after Prohibition, the Gallos knew that the real future lay with table wines, and they planned accordingly.

In the early 1940s, they purchased 160 acres near Livingston; this was the first parcel of what would ultimately become a 5,000-acre ranch, 4,000 of which are now planted in vineyards. In 1946, a portion of that vineyard was set aside for evaluation of various grape varieties. More than 400 selections were planted and experimental wines were made from each of the varieties for a number of years. Those that showed acceptable viticultural characteristics and produced better wines in that region than the varieties then available were propagated.

But after more suitable varieties were identified, another problem arose. The task of convincing growers to graft over their lower quality grapes was formidable, indeed. The Gallos finally accomplished it in 1967 by guaranteeing growers a minimum price for these grapes under 10 to 15 year contracts. Now 20 years of research to determine the best grape varieties for the Central Valley would pay dividends. That experimental work was the beginning of an active viticultural research program that continues, in a greatly expanded form, to this day.

Fulltime enological research begins
Although Crawford and the small group of winemakers carried out a number of applied research projects as time permitted, the addition in 1951 of Dr. Ralph Celmer (research director) to the staff as a full-time research scientist marked the beginning of the formal enology research effort at Gallo.
We also carried out experiments on accelerated ageing of dessert wines using oak chips, contact with granulated cork, controlled oxidation at very low levels of oxygen addition, and many other techniques.
In the summer of 1953, after I completed my first year at UC Berkeley, Crawford asked me to look into improving some of our analytical methods. It is axiomatic that measuring the effect of changes made by any kind of process must be undertaken if that process is to be properly utilized.
Crawford understood the need to improve the scope, accuracy, and speed of our analyses to provide Gallo’s winemakers with more and better information for making key decisions.
Like everyone else, we analyzed titratable acidity by titrating wine samples in freshly boiled (and still extremely hot) distilled water to a phenolphthalein endpoint. Direct-reading analog pH meters had recently become available, and I saw no reason why such a device could not be employed for this very common and necessary analysis.

I also adjusted the normality of the titrant, so the result could be read directly from the burette without the need for further calculation. By implementing this technique, we achieved not only faster and easier analyses, but much more accurate ones, as well.

Over the course of several summers, I implemented several new analytical methods, including the micro-dichromate method for alcohol analysis, rapid procedures for aldehyde and fusel oil analyses, a rapid reducing sugar test for use in our fermentor laboratory and many others. Development of new analytical methods has continued to this day, and many procedures we devised have been published over the last 45 years or so.

Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis and Fresno State
The technical people at Gallo always have had the utmost respect for the faculties and staff of the viticulture and enology departments at UC Davis and Fresno State University. We have sought their advice and cooperation at every opportunity.

Maynard A. Amerine had been a classmate of Ernest and Julio at Modesto High School. He obtained his Ph.D. and, with Albert Winkler, went on to become one of the pivotal figures in the Department of Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis. The faculty and staff assembled in that department laid the foundation for several generations of winemakers and viticulturists who rebuilt an industry devastated by Prohibition.
The department was built upon people like Amerine (who would remain a lifelong friend of Ernest Gallo), Winkler, Harold “Hod” Berg, James Guymon, A.D. Webb, Vernon Singleton, Cornelius Ough, Lloyd Lider, Mark Kliewer, Curt Alley, Amand Kasimatis, Harold Olmo, George Marsh, James Cook, Hank Nelson, Ralph Kunkee, and others. They initiated wide-ranging research programs and designed and taught courses that educated a significant percentage of the professionals in the wine and grape industries in the second half of the 20th century.

These individuals did not operate in academic isolation or from a purely theoretical standpoint. Many had previous industrial experience, and all worked closely with the industry they were dedicated to improving. Much of the early research that came out of the department focused on solving the numerous practical problems plaguing the industry.

Evaluation of various grape varieties and rootstocks for optimum performance in different areas of California became an important element of the department’s work, as did Olmo’s efforts to breed new varieties that offered valuable characteristics for certain regions and wine styles.

The department educated the industry about the importance of proper sanitation procedures and the need for appropriate construction materials to avoid product contamination by trace materials or microorganisms. The effects of many factors on fermentation characteristics and wine composition were studied in detail, and the results immediately became available to the industry. Amerine’s work laid the foundation for the sophisticated sensory analysis used in the industry today.

The industry also benefited enormously from a somewhat smaller but very vigorous viticulture and enology program at (then) Fresno State College, which began under the direction of the indefatigable Vincent Petrucci. Some of the state’s foremost viticulturists and enologists are graduates of that school, and many alumni of that institution matriculated at Davis and elsewhere for advanced degrees.

The majority of Gallo winemakers and a large number of the research staff in the past were, and today are, products of these schools. We have continued to actively interact with the research scientists at these institutions.

Expansion at the Gallo lab
By 1957, the time had come to expand the Gallo laboratory and build an addition devoted exclusively to research. The plans that had been on the wall even prior to my arrival were not suitable, and I was asked to design a new facility.

This was the first of three Gallo laboratories for which I prepared the specifications and then worked with architectural firms and contractors to produce the final structure. It was, by our current standards, rather modest, but it provided us with the basic space and equipment needed to move our research to the next level.

Ralph Celmer had left Gallo at this point, but Lewis Stern (an early ASEV officer) had joined the company as the chief table winemaker in the mid-1950s, along with Dimitri Tchelistcheff, who wore several hats, working as an enologist and in research developing new products in particular. Celmer developed Thunderbird, our first flavored special natural wine, and Tchelistcheff conceived many others.

Innovations from the Gallo team
Stern was concerned about oxidation of white table wines and asked B.J. Williams, a microbiologist new to the company, and me to find a solution. Williams and I located ceramic diffusion tubes that could be attached to plastic tubing reaching to the bottom of a bottling tank. We found that when we hooked a diffusion tube to a cylinder of nitrogen and put it in the tank, it could release a stream of minute bubbles that would sparge dissolved oxygen from the wine. Of course, it was then necessary to measure the amount of dissolved oxygen to enable us to remove only the amount necessary and to avoid stripping desirable volatile compounds from the wine.

Although the dichloroindophenol titration used to measure dissolved oxygen in water was tried, it was cumbersome and incapable of the accuracy we wanted. I used a dropping mercury polarographic procedure for this measurement, enabling us to expand our use of oxygen removal to include carefully controlled nitrogen stripping when transferring sensitive wines within the winery and from our Fresno facility to Modesto.

A few years later, the first Clark one-piece polarographic electrode became available, and we published a paper on its use for the measurement of dissolved oxygen in wine. It since has become the standard analytical tool for this measurement in the industry.

By 1956, the principles of gas chromatography (GC) were just reaching the hands of analytical chemists, but commercial instruments were not readily available and were prohibitively expensive. I was reasonably knowledgeable about electronics and fairly adept with a soldering gun and other tools. I built a gas chromatograph and, with numerous modifications over the years, it is still in operation today. It enabled us to separate and quantify trace volatile compounds, such as the individual fusel oil components of distilled spirits, which improved our distillation procedures.

A new research director, Robert J. Bouthilet, was hired in 1958, shortly after completion of the new research lab. Bouthilet hired a number of new scientists including Dr. Richard Peterson, Karl Popper, Dr. George Thoukis, and Masao Ueda, and the latter two are still with the company.

New tools for winemakers
The next decade featured commercialization of a number of processes new to the wine industry. The late 1950s saw much research on ion exchange, initially to achieve tartrate stability and later to provide additional tools for winemakers in treating certain wines. Karl Popper became the resident expert on these processes and developed a substantial number of variations on the basic technology.

For wineries bottling wines with small amounts of residual sugar, pasteurization was commonly used to keep wines from undergoing fermentation in the bottle. This heating process inevitably had a deleterious effect on the product, and the industry searched for a viable alternative.

Sterile filtration was used by several wineries employing asbestos sheets in plate and frame filters, but the process was cumbersome and fraught with peril from a microbiological standpoint. Thoukis discovered that some brewing companies were using membrane filtration to achieve a sterile product and thought it might have a wine industry application. A project was set up in 1960 in conjunction with the Millipore Corporation to apply this technology to our wine process. By 1961, all of Gallo’s pasteurizers had been replaced with membrane filters, resulting in another significant improvement in product quality.

In 1961, Cornelius Ough and John Ingraham published a paper on the use of diethyl pyrocarbonate (DEPC) as a possible bottled wine sterilizing agent. DEPC rapidly decomposes to ethanol and carbon dioxide after addition to wine, and it has no effect on sensory properties of the product.

Thoukis, Ueda, and I followed the decomposition rate using radioactively-labeled DEPC and showed that over 98% of the compound hydrolyzed to ethanol and CO2. Most of the remaining by-products could be accounted for as ethyl carbonate and carbomethoxy derivatives, within experimental error. Since only 100 mg/L or so of DEPC was needed to achieve sterility in properly filtered wine, it was the perfect complement to membrane filtration if added just before the bottle was filled.

We had, long ago, found fermentations using indigenous yeast to be unpredictable, marked by variable sensory properties and the occasional stuck fermentation. We inoculated juice with selected yeast strains, but were forced to propagate yeast from a slant to a small flask of juice and subsequently to larger vessels until a sufficient quantity was produced to properly inoculate a fermentor. Intermediate steps included 1-liter, 5-liter, and 5-gallon containers of sterilized juice before preparation of a 250-gallon starter tank. This was clearly inconvenient, time consuming, and expensive.

John Castor at UC Davis had demonstrated a number of years earlier that wine yeast could be produced in a five-gallon aerated fermentor and harvested as a compressed cake. At about the same time, Dr. A.M. Adams in Canada described the collection of wine yeast in the form of small filter cakes that could be stored frozen and later used as an inoculum for wine fermentations.

Baker’s yeast was produced commercially in a similar manner, so Thoukis developed a joint project with Dr. Gerald Reed of Universal Foods Corporation to produce wine yeast, first as frozen cakes then later as a dried product. The dried form could be transported easily and stored and rehydrated just before use. Thoukis presented a paper on production and use of compressed yeast at the 1963 ASEV Annual Meeting, and this material has become widely used in the industry.

The early 1960s saw development and implementation of large-scale submerged culture production of flor sherry. Although Amerine and Ough, using pressurized vessels, had demonstrated the principle on a small scale, we achieved the same effect at atmospheric pressure in production tanks.

R.L. Nowlin, our chief engineer at that time, suggested the hydrostatic head in a large tank would provide adequate pressure with a proper circulation system. Such a system was constructed and worked perfectly. This period also produced evidence that temperature-controlled fermentations produced wines of a higher quality, and enormous amounts of refrigeration capacity were added. With increased use of stainless steel tanks insulated with urethane foam, wines could now be stored at optimal temperatures outdoors. The traditional cellar consisting of wood or concrete tanks in a fully enclosed building began to disappear.

When low alcohol, lightly carbonated wines were introduced, it became necessary to devise techniques to reproducibly carbonate the wines to the desired level and to analyze the CO2 content. By generating comprehensive CO2 solubility data for various products and different temperatures, we achieved consistent carbon dioxide levels in bottling tanks. A number of analytical procedures were devised, each faster and more accurate than the previous ones. Almost all were validated and published.

During this period, the first experiments with mechanical harvesters of our own design were conducted at the Livingston ranch. Although some positive results were obtained, Julio Gallo felt the resulting wine was not as good as that produced from the same grapes that had been hand-picked. As a result, we delayed the acceptance of mechanically-harvested fruit until the technology became more refined.

Introduction of our first Charmat-process Champagne was hugely successful, and it became necessary to produce larger quantities than our initial industry-standard 2,000-gallon tanks could provide.

Crawford and my father, who headed the company’s maintenance and much of its engineering functions, found a couple of surplus 20,000-gallon liquid oxygen tanks from a decommissioned missile site and felt these could be used as large Charmat fermentors. I made some calculations to see if we could bottle from these large vessels isobarically without losing any significant CO2 content. The calculations were favorable, and the tanks were acquired and installed by my father. They performed flawlessly. Additional tanks of the same size and even larger were later added.

New facilities, new staff
When Bouthilet left Gallo in 1963, Richard Peterson and I assumed responsibility for administration of the research department, and we prepared to move into a large new facility. I worked with an architectural firm on design of a new building to house the winemaking, analytical, and research departments.

We moved into the new quarters in May 1969 shortly after Peterson’s departure. The engineering and personnel groups initially were included in the structure as well, but like the company as a whole, the laboratory expanded rapidly in the 1970s, and those departments were soon moved to another location.
Tchelistcheff and Popper left about the time of Bouthilet’s departure, and we had to find new staff members to carry on the work. With the move into the new laboratory, people like Dr. Richard Morenzoni from the UC Davis enology program, Dr. Thomas Wong from the food science program at UC Davis, and James Peck, one of Maynard Amerine’s last graduate students, were added to the research staff. These individuals became key contributors to research done in the new building throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and into the 1990s.

Morenzoni did his graduate work on malolactic fermentation under Ralph Kunkee and continued his investigation of that process, but now on a commercial scale. He also worked with commercial suppliers of yeast to obtain various strains and select particular ones to optimize different fermentation needs. Procedures were developed and implemented to measure the viability of incoming shipments of dried yeast.
Because many of our products were now being sterile-bottled, it was necessary to put into place even more stringent sanitation procedures and comprehensive sampling and plating procedures to ensure all bottled wines were microbiologically stable. These were all accomplished with advice and direction from Morenzoni, and he was instrumental in design of microbiological facilities at all company production locations.

An enormous amount of work went into optimizing protocols for production of fermentation starters. Morenzoni’s group used DNA Karyotypes to follow the characteristics of yeast populations under various fermentation schemes, demonstrating that the presence of excessive levels of fluoride caused increased amounts of volatile acidity and other by-products during fermentation.

Most recently, this group developed microbiological “fingerprints” for wines produced at our North Coast facility. Several lots of wines were made using various combinations of yeast and malolactic bacteria, and the resulting wines were carefully evaluated. This led to the current practice of using specific yeast and malolactic bacteria combinations for wines produced at that winery.

Wong brought a strong background in enzymology, and he identified enzyme preparations that could improve juice yield, wine filterability, and optimum color characteristics. He has continued, to this day, to evaluate new enzyme preparations and optimize their use. With assistance from a number of other staff members, Wong developed a cellulose fiber filtering material that was patented and employed in our filtration process for many years.

His interest in filtration led him and his associates to explore and implement new membrane technologies, such as ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and crossflow filtration. As new materials and equipment became available, adoption of various uses for these processes continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Adding a sensory evaluation program
Although wine tasting had always been an important aspect of the company’s ongoing commitment to quality, we had no formal sensory evaluation program or tasting booths until construction of the new laboratory in 1969. A small sensory area was incorporated in the design, and the booths were provided with filtered and conditioned air and red illumination to obscure differences in wine sample appearances.

Jim Peck, who had extensive sensory training under Amerine, set up the first trained tasting panels in the building and also carried out many other research projects.

Addressing regulatory concerns
A variety of projects filled the 1970s and 1980s, many dealing with regulatory requirements. New waste disposal techniques were developed and implemented at all corporate production sites.
When the California Air Resources Board suggested winery fermentation emissions might be a source of unwanted ozone precursors, our staff worked with other wineries through the Wine Institute to develop important data on this issue. Much experimental work was carried out in conjunction with Professor Carlos Muller at California State University, Fresno, to substantiate the industry’s position that controlling these emissions mechanically was unfeasible.

In the late 1980s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration became concerned about the presence of traces of ethyl carbamate, a suspected carcinogen, in fermented foods and beverages. A comprehensive study was initiated (that continues to this day), in which Gallo scientists worked with academicians, principally C. S. Ough and Linda Bisson, to elucidate all the factors involved in the formation and control of the traces of this naturally-occurring compound.

The first work implicating arginine as a precursor for urea in wine was done by the Gallo microbiology group and brought to the attention of UC Davis researchers, who developed it further. These efforts are typical of the kinds of interaction that exist between the Gallo technical staff, academia, and the rest of the industry.

By the early 1990s, it became clear that E&J Gallo Winery’s technical needs had outgrown existing facilities. Again, I prepared specifications for and helped design and staff a new research building. It was based upon an organizational structure that was logical at that time, but the facility would be entirely modular in concept, so it could easily be modified when the need arose.

Adding a chemistry team
A chemistry group, then under Dr. Jeff McCord and now directed by Dr. Tim Ryan, was charged with investigating the volatile and non-volatile components of wine and establishing the sensory effect of each component, singly and in combination. Part of this group developed specialized analyses and automated routine procedures for the analytical department. Many robotic procedures have been implemented for common analyses, and capillary electrophoresis methods have been developed for analysis of proteins, organic acids, specific amino acids, and numerous inorganic ions.

Work by the microbiology group
A microbiology function was incorporated to supplement the existing group and provide additional research capabilities for this critical aspect of the winemaking process. It since has been merged with the genetics team to form a life sciences group led by Dr. Nancy Irelan.

A major effort has been directed toward physiological characterization of wine microorganisms using the BIOLOG microplate system that measures the growth of microorganisms on various carbon sources. The pattern of growth is compared to the patterns of type strains in the database, and the degree of similarity calculated.

We have constructed our own custom databases of wine microorganisms including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Hanseniaspora (Kloeckera), and several others. These databases are being used to build a picture of the microbial ecology of wine fermentations at Gallo, which hopefully will lead to a better understanding of the process.

One member of the microbiology group, Dr. Roy Thornton, has a strong background in classical breeding techniques and has used these techniques to improve winemaking properties of Gallo’s preferred wine yeast strains. The group has collected over 70 Dekkera (Brettanomyces) strains from California and around the world. They were characterized by BIOLOG and separated into several distinct physiological groups with a wide range of physiological/biochemical activities.

Research in molecular biology and genetics
A molecular biology/genetics group was created to study both plants and microorganisms at the molecular level. A number of achievements already have been realized in the area of molecular diagnostics for vineyard, wine, and juice-related microorganisms. The team has developed robust, rapid, PCR-based, plus-or-minus molecular identification tests for a wide range of vineyard pathogens and wine yeasts, such as Eutypa, Botrytis, Brettanomyces, Zygosaccharomyces, and Torulaspora, to name only a few.
Tests for six vineyard pathogens have been patented, and tests for 13 yeast species are in patent-pending status. Because the tests are rapid, easy to perform, and produce plus-or-minus results, any technician can easily be trained to use them and interpret the outcome. The tests have already been successfully transferred to production microbiology laboratories in several locations, and implementation of the technology is continuing.

The team working on plant genetics has extensively studied Eutypa, a dieback disease of grape vines, which affects grape production around the world and is caused by the fungus, Eutypa lata. The group obtained and collected 116 isolates of Eutypa species from grape, cultivated species, and native tree species. They used Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) to produce genetic fingerprints and analyzed specific regions of DNA sequence from each isolate.

The results indicate that there are two species, Eutypa lata and Eutypa armeniacae, capable of causing this disease. Of equal importance is the discovery that both of these species of Eutypa can grow on many native tree species in California, meaning there is always a ready source of inoculum to further spread the disease.
In addition, information from the DNA-sequence analysis derived from this research was used to generate diagnostic tools for Eutypa. A Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based method was developed that allows detection of Eutypa in woody vine material long before symptoms appear. This tool enables researchers to investigate growth of the fungus in the vine and enables a better understanding of the disease process. This diagnostic method has been patented worldwide, and is currently being made available to academic researchers free of charge.

Some of the initial research within the genetics program involved investigating the genetic diversity between a number of Vitis sp., representing native species from North America, and other species from around the world.

Investigations of wild Vitis species
Wild Vitis species contain a wealth of germplasm that is a potential source of genetic material for improving existing cultivated species of grape. Breeders have used this genetic material via classical methods to develop rootstocks resistant to Phylloxera and nematodes. Other rootstocks have been developed that perform well over a wide range of soil and climatic conditions.

A detailed understanding of the genetic diversity, or relatedness, between the wild species is an important starting point in utilizing this resource in a more specific and efficient manner. In our laboratories, AFLP was used to analyze 66 Vitis accessions representing 18 wild species of grape and compared with Vitis vinifera; the first time this technique had been used to analyze a diverse group of Vitis species. Results of this research were presented at the Sixth International Plant & Animal Genome Conference in 1997.

Genetic relationships observed in our analysis agree with the current taxonomy and indicate Vitis vinifera is genetically distinct from both the North American and Asian grape species. In addition, we identified three major groups of Vitis species that will be useful in further investigations.

A professional flavorist, Leslie Norris, was added in 1998 to not only work with the product development department, but also with the chemistry group to determine if various compounds they identified as having sensory impact really were responsible for important tastes and aromas. Her understanding of how flavor compounds interact and alter their sensory properties with changes in concentration have been invaluable in this area of research.

The sensory department headed by Dr. Isabelle Lesschaeve ties all these efforts together. Ten tasting booths are equipped with computers that are, in turn, linked to a central server utilizing specialized sensory software. Additional statistical software permits the construction of preference maps, PCA plots, spider web diagrams, and numerous other representations of statistically-analyzed sensory results. The group can provide difference testing, preference evaluations, coordination with marketing consumer testing, and other services.

Research winery
Gallo’s small-scale research winery, which has existed in various forms since the 1950s, was completely refurbished in 1998. It was equipped with small stainless steel tanks, many of which are jacketed and can be accurately temperature-controlled by circulation of chilled glycol. A computer controls and monitors the status of these tanks.

Small-scale bladder presses operate under microprocessor control and can simulate the effects of full-size devices. More than 500 experimental fermentations have been conducted in the research winery in a single year. The wines produced in this facility permit us to evaluate various viticultural and winemaking possibilities. An adjacent pilot plant provides the necessary environment and equipment for the process development group to explore new technologies or transfer techniques that have been effective in other industries and adapt them to Gallo’s needs.

The research effort that began with a handful of people performing experiments when time permitted has grown to a staff of over 60 people, including post-doctoral appointees, interns, and trainees. Virtually all major scientific disciplines are encompassed within Gallo’s research and technical services department.
Scientists have been recruited from all over the world to assist in this effort, now directed by Dr. Terry Lee, who joined the organization after a distinguished career heading the Australian Wine Research Institute. All parts appear to be in place to move the research effort at the E&J Gallo Winery to the next level of excellence and to help fulfill the vision of the company’s founders.

As I prepared this presentation, so many names from years of research efforts at Gallo came flooding back to me — Emil Mrak, Maynard Joslyn, Rose Marie Pangborn, Walt Jennings, Elie Skofis, and dozens of others.

Some people I have mentioned may not be familiar to the younger enologists and viticulturists or may just be names they have seen in old publications. Many have retired; many more are no longer with us, but they were the pioneers who worked, often in anonymity, to lay the foundation for the industry we know today. These people and their work helped shape my career, and whether you realize it or not, they have helped shape yours.

Art Caputi has formed a consultancy offering expertise in all facets of winemaking and can be reached by email or through his website. Edited from the 2000-ASEV Merit Award presentation in Seattle, WA, June 2000.