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Two Buck Chuck Turns 10

Posted on  | February 6, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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It’s hard to believe, but Bronco Wine Company’s Charles Shaw wine, dubbed Two Buck Chuck after the price at California Trader Joe’s, is 10 years old this month. They’ve shipped 50 million cases of the different varieties.

When Two Buck Chuck first appeared, there were rumors about its origins, including being distressed wine from failed businesses, even from a sunken ship.

The price was so low because Bronco, owned by Fred Franzia and his relatives, now controls more than 40,000 acres of vineyards and every aspect of production. This includes a giant bottling plant near the Napa Airport.

In spite of the growing shortage of grapes in California, don’t expect it to go away. It will likely get more expensive, however, for Franzia can sell his grapes to needy competitors for more than he makes from the bargain wine.

Number of wineries grows

In spite of a weak economy, the number of wineries in North America continued to grow in 2011. The latest tally by WinesVinesDATA, the research arm of Wines & Vines magazine, identified 7,345 wineries operating in the United States, up by 450 wineries, or 6 percent, from a year ago.

Canadian wineries number 465, up 17 percent.

The growth rate for wineries defied the general economic doldrums and the scattered incidents of winery closings, but did parallel the increase in wine consumption in the United States, which last year became the world’s biggest market for wine.

Of these wineries, now fewer than half are in California, which has 3,519 48 percent of the total. Sixteen states (plus two Canadian provinces, British Columbia and Ontario) have more than 100 wineries.

Six have more than 200: California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Virginia and Texas. Napa County alone reportedly has more than 400 wineries.

While California continues to produce 90 percent of the nation’s wine, many states are making excellent wines, and developing local passion and interest, including wine regions that increasingly attract tourists.

The proliferation of local wineries has also made many state and national legislators more favorable to the industry to help eliminate restrictive laws, which is good news for Napa producers.

Virginia, in particular, is finally realizing Thomas Jefferson’s dream. Its wines are receiving much recognition this year, including many top medals at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, the largest in North America.

Michigan sparkling and still wines have also been receiving increasing notice, and New Mexico’s GruĂ«t sparkling wines are now in nationwide distribution.

All states have at least two wineries, and even Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have some.

Mexico contains 24 wineries, for a North American total of 7,834.

Source: Napa Valley Register

by Paul Franson

Thursday, February 2, 2012


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