Whatever your opinion of Fred Franzia, you have to hand it to the guy -- he knows how to get your attention. Franzia is, of course, the guy behind the Two Buck Chuck juggernaut and the recent loser of a 6 month court battle with the Napa Valley Vintner's association over the labeling of his wines. Like a kung-fu master who knows exactly where to hit someone with a single finger with devastating results, Franzia has a gift for provoking outrage with a minimum of words. Here are a few gems from a rare press conference he held recently:
"No bottle of wine is worth more than $10, in my opinion."
"White Zin is the model, the template for where American wine is. For almost 20 years, consumers have never left the category, because the prices haven't changed in 20 years. "
On terroir: "Why complicate [wine]? Does anybody complicate Cheerios by saying the wheat has to be grown on the side of a mountain and the terroir in North Dakota is better than Kansas and all this horse shit? You put something in your mouth and enjoy it. If you spend $100 to buy a bottle of wine, how the hell are you going to enjoy it? It's a joke. There's no wine worth that kind of money."
"I don't socialize anywhere. There's no money made in socializing."
On Napa and Sonoma appellations: "California wine shouldn't be divided up into these little oligopoly appellations. They try to create a myth to keep the consumer from buying other people's wine."
I'm sure most people find at least one of the statements above, if not patently offensive, then certainly just wrong. Mostly they just make me laugh. The guy has got a gift for pissing off folks in the wine industry. He also has a gift for operating as close to the edge of the law as he possibly can, as various indictments and court settlements and judgments reveal.
Yet on the other hand, he is almost single-handedly responsible for an increase in wine consumption among consumers in the United States. I believe strongly that Two Buck Chuck was the catalyst that has kicked off a surge of interest in wine, and a reduction in the intimidation that consumers feel about wine.
Franzia, and his Bronco wine company, are certainly a force to be reckoned with, and while the Supreme Court has declared that Franzia can't sell wine with Napa in the name unless the grapes come from there, that will just be a tiny speed bump for him, I'm sure. He's in the process of building a winery in Napa Valley, and will likely continue to pop up where he is least wanted. That seems to be his special talent.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune