Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Two Buck Chuck - Urban Legends Debunked

There are several stories floating around about why Two Buck Chuck is two bucks. The first story I heard was that the owner of the winery and his wife went through a nasty divorce, and in the settlement, she got the winery. As a kick in the balls to her ex-husband, she sold the wine for a mere two dollars - a pure insult to his entire life's work. The other story I've heard is similar: that the winery was, in fact, won by the husband in the divorce, but that the wife received any profit over two dollars a bottle. So selling it for two dollars prevented her from getting a dime.

Of course both these stories are false, and I have been teased mercilessly for sharing some version at parties. A wonderful friend from my book club brought me an article from the New Yorker that debunked all the theories and provided the entire story about the Charles Shaw brand.

I'll let you read the article, but the story is not as dramatic as I thought. Bronco, the company that owns Charles Shaw and several other brands, just happens to own 40,000 acres of vineyards, owns their own bottling plant, acts as their own distributor in California...they are essentially the Wal-Mart of wine - selling mass quantities for dirt cheap, and doing so because of supply chain efficiencies. Well, that and a cultural belief that NO bottle of wine should ever cost more than 10 dollars, period.

One other interesting nugget - Fred Franzia, who runs Bronco, is the son of John Franzia, as in Franzia box wine (the family sold the brand to Coca-cola in the 70's) and Joseph Gallo is his cousin.

Read the New Yorker article here.

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