Fred Franzia, the creator of 'Two Buck Chuck,' has died at 79 The California winemaker firmly believed that no bottle of wine should cost more than $10. He created a business that struck bargain wine gold with Charles Shaw — also known as "Two Buck Chuck."

Fred Franzia, creator of 'Two Buck Chuck' and champion of affordable wine, has died

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JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

It's time to pour one out for the titan of bargain wine. Fred Franzia, the man behind the famous Charles Shaw wine known as Two Buck Chuck, died on Tuesday at age 79. NPR's Wynne Davis has this appreciation.

WYNNE DAVIS, BYLINE: Fred Franzia was famous for claiming that no bottle of wine should cost more than $10. In 2002, he started selling his Charles Shaw wine at Trader Joe's.

CAROL EMERT: Two Buck Chuck was a real phenomenon because it was relatively good wine that was sold in a respectable bottle. It wasn't screw cap. And it was $1.99 a bottle. It was absolutely unheard of.

DAVIS: That's Carol Emert, a former wine columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. She covered the rise of Two Buck Chuck.

EMERT: It had a different profile than cheap wine. It tasted like good wine.

DAVIS: Franzia came from a family of winemakers who sold their company to Coca-Cola. It later became the familiar Franzia boxed wine. Fred was angry about his family's decision to sell and in 1973 started his own company with his brother and cousin. But not everyone was a fan. Karen MacNeil wrote "The Wine Bible" and says while affordable wine is an honorable business, many had issues with how Charles Shaw wine was marketed.

KAREN MACNEIL: The fallacy of Two Buck Chuck is that it implied to consumers that there's some beautiful vineyard somewhere.

DAVIS: In reality, Franzia's wines often included bulk shipments of grapes from other places. But Carol Emert said he didn't care what the wine elites thought.

EMERT: He just threw the rules out the window and did what he wanted to do.

DAVIS: And to that, we can raise a glass. Wynne Davis, NPR News.

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