Ernest Gallo, RIP.
Mock the quality of his wine all you want. But he and his brother, Julio, played no small role in bringing average table wine to the average American table. ... Granted, it was hard to live down the 'Thunderbird wine' image. But not that hard when all you wanted or needed was a big jug of red wine at an affordable price that other wineries refused to provide for snob reasons. ...Update
-- Poking around to find what wine Orson 'I will drink no wine before it's time' Wells used to pitch (it was Paul Masson), I stumbled upon this site
with a fun description of the evolution of American wine tastes:
To bring this article full circle and look at where wine consumption is heading, we must look back at what most of the Baby Boomers began drinking. It is remarkable how many people had similar early wine drinking experiences. The list goes something along the lines of Annie Green Springs, Boones Farm, Strawberry Hill, Gallo Hearty Burgundy, Gallo Chablis, French Colombard, Ripple, Spanada and Sutter Home White Zinfandel, not necessarily in this drinking order.
As a Baby Boomer, I recall the Gallo and, on special occasions, the Italian Chianti that made me think, 'Mom and Dad are getting fancy
-- Adam sends in a link: Bumwine.com
. ... There she is. Thunderbird!