Take a look at this fascinating article from the wine focused website VinePair that takes a look at Trader Joes best selling private brand Charles Shaw wine.
The Mystery Of Charles Shaw. Better Known As Two Buck Chuck.
It’s a cold, misty night. The moon casts a pale glow over the land. You’re feeling introspective, wistful…and very thirsty. The wine glass beckons.
This is the hour that calls for the juice of the vine. You take up your corkscrew and reach for a vintage that’s laden with secrets: a shadowy bottle of Charles Shaw.
Wait a minute.
Charles Shaw? The two-dollar tipple? This is no wine for a mysterious night of wonder…is it?
Whether you realize it or not, this Trader Joe’s staple has more intrigue-per-ounce than it may seem. Perhaps you’ve heard some of the tales. You might even think you know the truth…but it’s no simple story.
Just Who Is This Mr. Shaw?
Charles Shaw started his vineyard in picturesque Napa, back before it became the gilded wine mecca it is today. He was particularly enamored with a grape he’d found in France called Gamay, so he set about making a quality quaff from this Parisian beauty. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on in the U.S., and by the end of the 1980s, the business was in massive debt.
The final blow came at a dark time, when Shaw and his wife divorced. In the midst of the fallout, the winery filed for bankruptcy, and it seemed the Shaw name was doomed to fall by the wayside.
Shaw left California to pursue other endeavors, heading off to the chilly Midwest without a clue of what would come next for his once-fledgling wine label.
Shaw: From the Ashes
It was during the bankruptcy proceedings that another character entered the picture: Fred Franzia, owner of Bronco wines. He purchased the Charles Shaw name, but didn’t actually do anything with it. For years, he just kept it in his pocket. What was his plan?
A few years later there was a massive wine surplus, and Franzia saw an opportunity. He bought up the stock, resurrected the Shaw brand, and partnered with Trader Joe’s. The low-cost wine quickly flew off the shelves, and since then it’s caused a lot of controversy—and fueled a lot of recession-era parties.
Shaw never aimed to create a bargain wine, but now the bottle that bears his name sells for only a few dollars. How is that even possible? How can it be so incredibly cheap? A number of theories have been tossed around.