Wines & Vines

March 2016 Vineyard Equipment & Technology Issue

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March 2016 WINES&VINES 19 S acramento, Calif.—Attend- ees at the sold-out keynote luncheon featuring Fred Franzia on Jan. 26 at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium weren't disappointed by the irascible pres- ident of Bronco Wine Co. T h e f a t h e r o f " Tw o B u c k Chuck," who co-founded his wine company in 1973 with his brother and cousin after their parents sold the family business to The Coca Cola Co., delivered zingers worthy of Donald Trump to en- thusiastic listeners. Along the way, he also an- nounced some news: The com- pany has delivered more than 1 billion bottles of Charles Shaw wine (called Two Buck Chuck for its former price in Trader Joe's stores, although it now sells for $2.99). His company also has renamed its Escalon winery Petri Wine Co. in honor of its founder, Louis Petri, whose company was once larger than E. & J. Gallo. Franzia's talk wandered all over the industry, from its found- ing in California to some sharp comments about current trends, delivering brickbats as expected. The largest vineyard holder in California, Franzia adamantly de- fended the San Joaquin Valley against recent comments that its time had past. He praised drip irrigation for saving 50%-60% of water and improving grape quality. He said that drip and microirrigation sys- tems are used on less than 40% of California's 7.54 million irri- gated acres. Flood irrigation is used on 60%. "That needs to be changed." Land in the San Joaquin Val- ley is in high demand for nut trees, and prices have risen, but Franzia considers the land over- priced and predicts prices will fall. He also feels the country could drink much more wine, and that wine must come from the Central Valley. "Every restaurant should offer $10 bottles of wine," Franzia said, "that would improve de- mand." He thinks the United States will drink 1 billion cases of wine per year by 2040, up from 327 million last year. Franzia stated"California" should be the primary appellation on California wines. "We have engineered over 90 different ap- pellations in California," Franzia said. "In my opinion, the appel- lation system caused the downfall of French wines and will do the same in California." Franzia and Bronco are gener- ous donors of research money to the American Vineyard Founda- tion, but Franzia is against govern- ment money for research. He feels much is ill spent, saying $600 mil- lion in government funding has been spent on the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS). "Our own company has spent $2 million on the insect and claims to have found no GWSS in 25 years in 25 square miles of vine- yards in Kern County. Obviously Napa and Sonoma counties… want the rest of California grow- ers to pay for their research." Franzia said that Bronco buys more than 50% of its grape supply from non-related growers, and 85% don't have written contracts. "If the grower isn't satisfied with our company, they can go else- where, but we've been buying for m a n y y e a r s f r o m t h e s a m e growers." Finally, Franzia expressed great concern about the mergers occurring in distribution and retail. "We'll see less competi- tion and tighter channels to sell wine." —Paul Franson Two Billion-Buck Chuck WINE INDUSTRY NEWS Fred Franzia

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