You would think a winemaker would be thrilled with a profile in The New Yorker, one of the nation's leading highbrow magazines.
Fred Franzia wasn't. The president of Bronco Wine Co. near Ceres said the May 18 article was too heavy on criticism from Napa Valley industry people of his low-priced products.
"They didn't go to the core story of why the consumer enjoys our wine," Franzia told The Bee by phone last week.
The article, by New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear, recounts how Bronco launched its Charles Shaw wines at $1.99 a bottle through Trader Joe's stores. That product, dubbed "Two Buck Chuck" soon after the 2002 debut, created a category at the lower end of the market.
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These are single-varietal wines in 1.75-liter bottles closed with corks, as opposed to the jug and box wines that had dominated this part of the industry. Fans snapped them up by the case, and a Charles Shaw chardonnay topped 350 rivals at the 2007 California State Fair.
The magazine also gets into Franzia's legal battle over putting "Napa" on wines made from grapes grown elsewhere. It shows him at work in his office and vineyards, dealing with associates in his often-blunt manner. And it gives him a chance to repeat his oft-stated belief that good wine does not have to be expensive.
Bronco, founded in 1973, has become the fourth- largest wine seller in the United States. It has extensive vineyard holdings in the San Joaquin Valley and winemaking operations near Ceres, Napa and Sonoma. It also is a big player in the bulk wine market.
The New Yorker reported, and Franzia confirmed to The Bee, that Bronco aims to quintuple its output to 100 million cases a year. Franzia said this could take perhaps 15 years, as the United States becomes more of a wine-drinking nation and shipping rules in some states are eased.
"If the industry doubles in the next 10 or 15 years, we'll be getting more than our share," he said.
The San Joaquin Valley's high-volume wineries will be vital to producing the needed wine, Franzia said.
They include the No. 1 producer, E.&J. Gallo Winery of Modesto, co-founded by Ernest Gallo, Franzia's uncle by marriage. They include The Wine Group, which owns the Franzia Winery near Ripon, founded by Fred Franzia's grandparents but not connected with Bronco.
The New Yorker writer appeared to have far more access to Franzia than most journalists. Franzia said he is disappointed that his main point did not come through strongly enough to the reporter.
"She doesn't understand that somebody can enjoy a $2 bottle of wine," he said.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2385.