Wine revolutionizer Fred Franzia, creator of Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck" (aka Charles Shaw wine) and co-founder of Bronco Wine Co, has died. He was 79.
Of his famed inexpensive wine, he once said, "Take that and shove it, Napa."
Bronco Wine Co. was born in 1973 after selling their own family wine brand to Coca-Cola.
"Core to his vision was a belief that wine should be enjoyed and consumed on every American table," Bronco's statement said. "When asked how Bronco Wine Company can sell wine less expensive than a bottle of water, Fred T. Franzia famously countered, 'They're overcharging for the water — don't you get it?'"
Bronco Wine is one of Ameria's biggest wine companies, with a portfolio of more than 100 brands spanning from wine, spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails. Wine Spectator estimates that it's the 13th largest wine marketer in the US, moving more than 3.4 million cases last year.
From Wine Spectator:
Over the years Franzia developed a reputation for brash dealmaking and acerbic remarks, renowned for verbally sparring with the likes of Robert Mondavi and Sam Sebastiani. He built Bronco into one of the largest wine producers in the U.S. with a brazen attitude and no-holds-barred business practices, closely watching grape price trends so he could find value and pass it along to customers. He liked nothing more than buying excess wine from top producers and blending it into his value-priced bottlings[…]
Bronco was originally set up as a négociant, sourcing bulk wine and also distributing other brands. But opportunity knocked in the 1980s, as Bronco began buying foreclosed vineyards and selling much of the fruit to other producers[…]
Franzia's brashness extended to his wine labeling practices as well. In 1993, he was indicted by a federal grand jury for selling bottles of wine labeled Zinfandel but containing cheaper varieties. He also fought the Napa Valley Vintners over a 2000 California law requiring wines labeled with the word "Napa" to contain at least 75 percent Napa Valley fruit. He tried to skirt it by purchasing brands that had Napa in their names.