Pioneer of Affordable Wines Dies at 79

Bronco Wines / Instagram

The man who brought affordable wine to the masses has died. Fred Franzia felt that no bottle of wine should ever cost more than $10 a bottle. He passed away September 13, at the age of 79. His family was by his side, at his home in Denair, California.

He is best-known for the “Two Buck Chuck” Charles Shaw wine brand. The wine brand sold only at Trader Joe’s since 2002. “Two Buck Chuck” is a nickname based on the it’s affordability and quality. The wine was priced at $1.99 a bottle in the early days.According to Wikipedia, a bottle of Charles Shaw retailed for $2.99 in 2021 in California. Franzia was once asked how Bronco could sell wine cheaper than bottled water, Franzia said, “They’re overcharging for the water.”

Franzia grew the Bronco Wine Company into one of the most competitive wine sellers in the United States. The company has a portfolio of more than 1oo different brands featuring wines, spirits and pre-made cocktails.

Surprisingly, he never owned the Franzia wine brand. His parents sold the Franzia brand in 1973 to Coca-Cola. This is what led him to start Bronco Wine. “My dad, he was not a fighter,” Franzia told the New Yorker when interviewed in 2009. “He just folded. And he and I went through a period of no communication, I think for five years. I just was pissed.”

“Core to his vision was a belief that wine should be enjoyed and consumed on every American table,” Bronco’s statement said. Tonight, when I open up my bottle of “Two Buck Chuck” I will honor this Wine Maverick, Fred Franzia, with a toast. May he rest in peace.