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Why Is Trader Joe's Wine So Cheap?

The Story About Cheap Wine Might Make You Gag

Editorial Update: The origins of this story have been called into question, and the post has been updated to reflect that.

America loves Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck (or should we say Three-Buck?), because it's cheap, palatable, and . . . did we say cheap? That's reason enough for people to buy it by the case, consume it with dinner, and display it proudly at house parties. According to Quora user Chris Morrison (a wine shop manager and buyer), behind that familiar, beloved label, there's a very scary reality as to why the wine is so shockingly cheap. According to him, Charles Shaw, owned and operated by Fred Franzia of Bronco Wine Company, relies on machines to harvest the 35,000 acres of grapes grown in the Central Valley. Sounds efficient, right? Well, there is a catch. Here's what Morrison writes:

"[T]hat means these large tractors with huge claws go down the rows of vineyards grabbing the grapes and depositing them in its huge receptacle. And it not only grabs ripe grapes, but unripe and down right rotten ones as well and throws them all together. Add to that leaves, stems and any rodents, birds, or insects that may have made those vines their home - they all get thrown into the bin as well. And guess what? You think there's going to be any sorting when that truck arrives at the winery (or should I say processing facility)? Nope. Everything, and I do mean everything (including all those unripe grapes, rotten grapes, leaves, stems, birds, rodents, and insects) gets tossed into the crusher and transferred to large tanks to ferment."

Finally, the wine is allegedly blended with unfermented grape juice and added sugar to make it more toothsome.

Since this Quora thread originally went up, it has become a hotly contested topic. It is enough to give us pause, but we want to know if this will weigh into your future decisions to buy the cheapest wine on store shelves.

Source: Instagram user willoliver28

Join The Conversation
akcihlar akcihlar 2 years

Happens in wineries of all sizes with all price ranges. Plus this wine is filtered down so microscopic material cannot pass through. If people really knew what went into growing and producing many of their food and drink items, they wouldn't eat anything.

btkdiva btkdiva 2 years

From We reached out to Bronco and the Franzias for a comment on how their Two Buck Chuck wine is produced, and they responded with the following statement:
"The Two Buck Chuck attack was started three years ago as a comment from a prejudiced wine shop owner on the Quora web site. It contained falsehoods and incorrect winemaking information, and didn't get much notice until The Huffington Post picked it up this week. In one case it says that California allows added sugar, in another it says that mechanical harvesters pick up animals! Several other blogs have now covered the item, including renown writer Steve Heimoff. But in today's social media environment false statements and angry opinions are left unedited, so there have been some additional pickups. Most people know that the reputations of Trader Joe's, the Bronco Wine Company and Charles Shaw wines demonstrate only good faith with their customers. The production process of Charles Shaw wines, known as Two Buck Chuck, is a completely state-of-the-art, top-rate process with extreme quality control in place every step of the way from the vineyard to the case of wine."

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