Pioneering U.S. winemaker Ernest Gallo has died at the age of 97.

Gallo passed away Tuesday at his home in the western U.S. city of Modesto, California.

Ernest Gallo grew up working on the small California vineyard owned by his Italian immigrant parents. He and his brother Julio founded the E&J Gallo Winery in 1933, and are credited with creating the modern American wine market.

Starting out with only three employees, the Gallo brothers eventually became one of the world's biggest winemakers. While Julio made the wine, Ernest handled the sales and marketing phase of the business.

Julio Gallo died in 1993.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.