Two-Buck Chuck Owner Buys Napa Winery

Back in March I wrote about the phenomena that had thirsty cheap drunks lining up at Trader Joe's store throughout California and elsewhere to pay $23.88 for a case of mass-produced free run glut wine. In my opinion this wine had been manipulated to appeal to the sweet tooth of the casual wine drinking Americans. Can anyone say how many spoonfuls of sugar?

Ex-Franzia box wine kingpin Fred Franzia and his Bronco Wine Company pulled off a marketing coup with its exclusive retailer Trader Joes when PR stories surfaced that American Airlines had to return thousands of cases of wine because corkscrews were banned on its aircraft. The story turned out to be a hoax. The wine, affectionally referred to as “two-buck chuck” became a runaway hit for Trader Joe's last year — only $1.99 a bottle. But from a marketing point of view this presents a huge problem to Trader Joes: bastardize and cut the legs out of your $5-10 wine sales. At the end of the day — not a very smart move.

Franzia owned a bottling facility in Napa and had been buying cheap juice from California's central valley and transporting it to Napa for bottling. Under technicalities of California's alcohol bottling laws, Franzia was able to label this wine as Napa Valley. Once again, deceiving customers with false or misleading labels. Many Napa Vintners have been up and arms and Franzia has been dragged through legal hassles as a result.

Well Fred has finally given in. Franzia and his Bronco Wine Group just closed a deal to buy the old Quail Ridge Winery on Highway 29 in the heart of Napa Valley. He gets the winery, land and brand. His plans? To sell a cheap — ahh. value wine — actually made with Napa grapes. With Napa Cabernet prices skyrocketing and a wine glut that has even major Napa & Sonoma wineries forcing to lower prices on recent vintages that received bad press (I saw a Kenwood Artists Series for $27 which normally sells for $50) Franzia will definitely find a market. Will the wine be good? His history just doesn't leave me with a good taste in my mouth.