Fred Franzia, the man behind America’s favorite bargain vino, has a big mouth and an even bigger winemaking empire – one that’s scaring the bejeezus out of his elitist rivals.
By Joel Stein,
(Business 2.0 Magazine) — There’s a war on bluster, and Fred Franzia is losing. Sure, the CEO of Bronco Wine, the nation’s fourth-largest wine company, tells me repeatedly that only a sucker would pay more than $10 for a bottle of wine – including his own $35 Domaine Napa. And that Napa’s and Bordeaux’s claims about their special soils are bogus: “We can grow on asphalt. Terroir don’t mean sh*t.” After relieving himself by the side of his Jeep, Franzia recounts a trip to Burgundy where, after an elaborate tasting, he told the winemaker at Château Haut-Brion, “You can bottle gasoline if you can sell that.”
Franzia, who rose to fame several years ago when he started selling a $2 bottle called Charles Shaw, calls winemakers “bozos in a glass.” He really goes off on wine critic Robert Parker, who, he says, likes tannic wines that make people gag. He mocks my college (“We buy wineries from guys from Stanford who go bankrupt. Some real dumb-asses from there”), my religion (“A Jew who eats ribs? You impress me”), and my job (“Business 2.0? Hell no, I’ve never heard of it”).