Friday, September 26, 2003

Curse of the Two-Buck Chuck
Back when we visited Napa in July, we stumbled upon a small winery (Phoenix Vineyards) and ended up talking to the owner. It was a great experience -- he sampled wines straight from the barrel for us. His hands were cracked and red, and he couldn't talk long -- it was time to bottle.

But he was extremely gracious. One of the things we talked about was the impending arrival of the first Trader Joe's in Napa. And you know what that meant: The arrival of Charles Shaw wine -- more popularly known as "Two-Buck Chuck" -- to the region.

Charles Shaw came about when Bronco Wine Co. realized they could buy up excess grapes in the state at a huge discount -- and produce a cheap but still decent wine in the process.

Our friend at the Phoenix Vineyard talked about how "Two-Buck Chuck" was hurting much of the California wine industry. Believe it or not, Charles Shaw made up 12 % of all California wine shipments last year. Trader Joe's is the primary seller of the wine.

Maria and I have downed several bottles through the years -- cheap and tasty stuff, after all. But we've also moved away from it, as we try to expand our palate to more adventuresome (and slightly more expensive) wines.

The L.A. Times today sips on the arrival of Trader Joe's to Napa, and how Two-Buck Chuck has even become a best-seller in Wine Country.

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