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03.2013

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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archivedOnWineReport

TWO-AND-A-HALF-BUCK CHUCK

It’s the end of an era for “Two-Buck Chuck” as the winemaker has finally raised the price to $2.49.  For the past decade, shoppers at Trader Joe’s stores in California have paid just $1.99 for a bottle of Charles Shaw wine.  Here on the East Coast it’s always cost a couple dollars more due to shipping costs.  The brand was able to maintain such low prices for so long in part because parent company, Bronco Wine Co., owns 45,OOO acres of vineyard land, said Harvey Posert, spokesman for Bronco.  That helps them ride out wild fluctuations in grape prices like those the industry has seen in recent years.  “If there’s one grape too many, the price dips,” Posert said.  “If there’s one grape too few, the price zips up.  In the sense of being the largest grape grower, Bronco can ride many of these ups and downs.  But there were bad crops in 2O1O and 2O11, and that certainly impacted the industry.”  Even so, the retail price is ultimately set by Trader Joe’s.  Two-Buck is the chain’s best-selling wine as the brand sold about 5 million cases last year.  But it’s not likely that sales will suffer.  When asked, shoppers outside a Trader Joe’s store in Santa Rosa said the wine is still a good value at $2.49.  One shopper thought the higher-priced wine could simply be called “Chuck” while others said it’s still close enough to $2 to keep its nickname.

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