DENAIR, Calif. (KTXL) — California winemaker Fred Franzia, known as the creator of “Two Buck Chuck” wine, died at 79 years old at his home in Denair, his family and Bronco Wine Co. announced Tuesday. 

The company said Franzia died with his family by his side but didn’t disclose a cause of death.  

“Due to Fred’s vision, Bronco Wine Co. has achieved vertical integration all while remaining family-owned. His entrepreneurial spirit, tireless dedication, and his commitment to both his family and to the Bronco family will forever be remembered,” the company wrote in an Instagram post. “His legacy will endure for generations to come.” 

Franzia co-founded Bronco Wine Co. in 1973 with his brother Joseph Franzia and cousin John Franzia with a vision of “creating high-quality wines at a value for wine consumers,” according to the company. 

Bronco Wine Co., based in Ceres, California, produces many wines under different brands and is one of the largest wine producers in the country.  One of the company’s brands includes Charles Shaw, a bargain-priced wine, which was sold at Trader Joe’s grocery stores and earned the nickname “Two Buck Chuck” with the price at $1.99 per bottle.

Fred Franzia was an outspoken critic of California’s wine culture, frequently proclaiming that no bottle of wine should cost more than $10. 

“Core to his vision was a belief that wine should be enjoyed and consumed on every American table,” the company’s social media post read. “When asked how Bronco Wine Company can sell wine less expensive than a bottle of water, Fred T. Franzia famously countered, ‘They’re overcharging for the water — don’t you get it?’”

In a 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Franzia said, “Who says we’re lower priced? We’re the best price. The others, I think, are overpriced.” 

Franzia faced controversy, pleading guilty to fraud charges in 1994 after falsifying the grape varieties on his wine labels. He later stepped down as the company’s president and a board member for five years.  

According to Bronco Wine Co.’s post, Franzia is survived by his five children, Renata, Roma, Joseph, Carlo and Giovanna; 14 grandchildren; brother Joseph S.; and sisters Joellen D’Ercole and Catherine McFadden. 

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