Wine legend Fred Franzia — creator of the iconic “Two Buck Chuck’ blend” — has died. He was 79.
Franzia was a founding partner and CEO of Bronco Wine Company. On Tuesday night, the company’s Facebook page announced his death. “Fred passed early this morning at his Redwood home in Denair, California, with family by his side,” they wrote.
He, along with his brother and cousin, started the company in 1973 with the intent to make wine accessible for daily consumption.
When asked how Bronco Wine Company can sell wine less expensive than a bottle of water, Franzia quipped, “They’re overcharging for the water — don’t you get it?” according to the post on social media.
“Due to Fred’s vision, Bronco Wine Company has achieved vertical integration all while remaining family owned. His entrepreneurial spirit, tireless dedication, and his commitment to both his family and to the Bronco family will forever be remembered. His legacy will endure for generations to come,” the statement continued.
The vintner also started the Charles Shaw brand, which gained popularity thanks to its “Two Buck Chuck” blend — a go-to for frugal wine shoppers at Trader Joe’s, where the drink sold for between $1.99 and $3.79.
Winemaking ran in Franzia’s family. The same year Bronco Wine was born, his parents sold their namesake boxed-wine brand to Coca-Cola. This caused a rift between Franzia and his father, as he told the New Yorker in 2009 that they “went through a period of no communication” for years.
The popular boxed wine — which still bears the family name — is currently owned by the Wine Group.
Fred is survived by his five children — Renata, Roma, Joseph, Carlo and Giovanna — and soon-to-be 15 grandkids, as well as his brother Joseph S. and his sisters Joellen D’Ercole and Catherine McFadden.