It’s been five years since the first of these amazingly cheap chardonnays and cut-price cabernets started rolling off the line, released by maverick vintner Fred Franzia under the formal label of Charles Shaw wines.
Three hundred million bottles later, Two Buck Chuck is still selling, and Franzia is still preaching his message of wine for the masses.
“We’re not out to gouge people,” says Franzia. “What I would like to see is every consumer be able to afford to have wine on the table every day and not feel insecure about it.”
Last year, Two Buck Chuck — available only in the Trader Joe’s grocery chain and priced at $1.99 in California, hence its nickname — accounted for at least 8 percent of California wine sold in-state, said Jon Fredrikson, who tracks wine shipments through his Woodland-based company, Fredrikson, Gomberg & Associates. National market share figures are not available.
Making wine is expensive from the ground up, but Franzia owns a lot of ground — 40,000 acres is the common estimate. He won’t say. His Ceres-based Bronco Wine Co. also owns the crushing and bottling plants and has its own distribution company.
Until now, another company has supplied the bottles. But Franzia’s latest idea is to fix that by building a glass container plant near his Napa Valley bottling facility in a business park near the Napa County Airport.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Adam Smith is smiling on Two Buck Chuck
"And the source of the wealth of nations is the division of labor", as Fred Franzia has happily discovered: