Reflecting on the legacy of Fred Franzia, the man behind Two Buck Chuck

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San Francisco Chronicle wine critic Esther Mobley says winemaker Fred Franzia was always controversial, some arguing that he did the wine industry a large disservice by making it seem that costly wines were elitist and snobby. Photo by Russell Yip.

Fred Fanzia was born into what might be called “the First Family of California wine.” His uncle by marriage was Ernest Gallo, one of the founders of E. & J. Gallo Winery — the country’s largest wine company. Growing up in the Central Valley, his family became synonymous with boxed wine, eventually selling the Franzia winery to Coca-Cola. Along with a brother and cousin, Fred branched out on his own to start Bronco Wine Company that went on to buy the Charles Shaw label for $25,000, and which later would take on the nickname of Two Buck Chuck.

Wine critic Esther Mobley discusses the life and legacy of Fred Franzia, who passed away in September.