Death of a revolutionary winemaker - the creator of "Two Buck Chuck"

Charles Shaw Wine for $ 1.99 in 2010 at Trader Joe's. Photo Mack Male -, CC BY-SA 2.0,

He repeated that everything is too expensive in winemaking, so he bought the cheapest glass bottles, printed labels on recycled paper, used ordinary natural adhesives, and shortened supply chains. He focused on "sustainable production" when no one knew the term.

His maxim was that wine should be available to everyone. And he made it like that. He has sold over a billion bottles of his liquor. On the night of September 13-14, European time, Fred Franzia passed away at 79.

Even though it was midnight, the wine news agencies suddenly resumed their activities to announce the sad fact. Although Fred had few true friends in the competitive world of producers, his actions were followed by the entire industry with bated breath. To this day, probably no one else in the world, and certainly not in the European Union and the United States of America, can put wine in a bottle for $ 1.99 on the shelves - that is, at a cost - and earn a lot on it. He would probably never call himself a revolutionist, but he liked shocking - or at least that's how he did it.

For the past twenty years, his constant companion has been endless media, often sucked from the finger of accusations and suspicions. Some ended up in the courts, and some he lost, but he always fell on his feet, paid penalties quickly and went back to work keeping the prices. Every day, turning on the computer in the morning, he could read something about himself.

Unfortunately, I have never met him, although journalistic visits usually involve the most famous personalities in the region - Franzia was not one of them, and he often acted out of the box. A friend of a Californian journalist wrote about such an extraordinary press meeting, and I remembered it. Franzia gave him and his friends his cheapest wine for lunch. When they waited for another one, because Fred's company, Bronco Wine Company, makes a total of about a hundred brands of other, more expensive copies, it turned out that this was the end. Franzia chuckled, then stated that he wanted to see trade journalists drink his wine for two dollars a flask.

"Chuck" cheaper than water

His life path was probably most influenced by the commercial turmoil - in 1973, the Fred family sold their wine business - including the brand, that is, the family name - to the Coca-Cola concern, which in 1981, sold it to the famous producer The Wine Company. To this day, Franzia is a renowned, cheap wine produced by this concern and offered in 3- and 5-litre cartons, which made Franzia extremely nervous (maybe that is why his Bronco does not sell wine in such packaging). "My father was not a fighter; we did not speak to each other for five years or so," he said in one of the interviews.

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