It has been almost a year since Western Farm Press published an article about “Two-Buck Chuck,” the Freddie Franzia-Bronco Winery $2 wine that has created a cult-like following luring hordes to buy thousands of cases of Charles Shaw varietals from Trader Joe's specialty grocery stores.
And still e-mails arrive weekly from people, mostly outside of California, wanting to know where they can buy Two-Buck Chuck. The article was picked up by at least two major search engines. While the article has fallen down search engine lists, the e-mails continue to arrive wanting to know where to buy Charles Shaw wine.
The latest was from “Leandro” in Argentina wanting to contact “somebody from Charles Shaw wines for commercial interest in Latin America.”
The owner of a restaurant in Houston e-mailed wanting to know where he could buy it to serve at his restaurant.
A lady in Kansas whose boyfriend is named Charles Shaw wanted to buy a case for his birthday.
One North Carolina couple e-mailed that they had looked in vain for Two-Buck Chuck. They wanted my recommendation for a similar wine. I e-mailed back that if it says Modesto, Calif., on the bottle, it would be pretty darn close. I don't think they appreciated my candor.
Most, however, just want to know where to find the wine.
Never in more than 40 years as a journalist has an article generated so much response. Google and Yahoo had a lot do to with it, for sure.
I have received so many e-mails I have considered buying a tractor-trailer and loading it out at the infamous Charles Shaw/Freddie Franzia winery in Napa and heading cross country to make my first million. I'd just park it any major intersection in America and become an instant millionaire like Freddie.
The Fresno, Calif., Peterbilt dealer surely has a clean, low mileage used truck and a big white trailer. Both sides of the trailer will read, “Get Your Two-Buck Chuck Right Here.” I know the trailer would be emptied by the time I got to Phoenix.
I hope I don't wait too long because the question many in the business are asking is how long will the phenomenon last. The wine tanks are being drained of surplus wine by “Two-Buck Chuck” and other “extreme value priced” wines. Prices remained low for most wine grapes this season, and many of the high-volume wineries want to keep it that way to ride the “Two-Buck Chuck” rocket as long as they can. Who wouldn't want to after reading the Gomberg Fredrikson Reports earlier this year that said an incredible 17 percent of all California wine shipments to California markets through the first five months of the year were bottles of wine selling for $2 to $3 per bottle.
Unfortunately, the success of Two-Buck Chuck wines has been at the expense of economically struggling wine grape producers. Eventually, the surplus will disappear and wine grape prices will increase. What happens then to Two-Buck Chuck? Will it go the way of California Coolers or will consumers continue to drink inexpensive varietal wines when it is Three- or Four-Buck Chuck?
(Please, Yahoo and Google — don't pick up this column. My wife says we cannot take out a loan on the house to buy a tractor-trailer to peddle $2 wine cross country. I keep telling her it's now or never. If people can make money selling seafood, steaks, oranges, roses, watermelons, strawberries and you-name-it beside the road, just imagine what we could make selling “Two-Buck Chuck” for $5 a bottle.)