11/01/2013 08:03 am ET Updated Nov 01, 2013

'Two Buck Chuck' CEO Says Don't Freak Out About Wine Shortage

If you are panicking about the possible impending global wine shortage, you can stop now.

“No fear, Charles Shaw will not change,” Fred Franzia, the CEO of the company that makes the famous "Two Buck Chuck," told The Huffington Post Thursday.

Franzia heads the Bronco Wine company, which makes the Charles Shaw Wines brand sold at Trader Joe's. He was addressing the rising worry among wine lovers over a possible global wine shortage, sparked by a Monday report from Morgan Stanley predicting the scarcity due to a short grape supply and increased demand for wine. The Internet has been panicking ever since.

Franzia said he sees no evidence of a short grape supply in California, describing the grapes his wineries just finished harvesting as “a good crop.”

“We don’t see it on our horizon at all,” said Franzia, who owns more acres of vineyards than anyone else in the country, according to a 2009 New Yorker profile. His wine empire, which rakes in about $425 million each year, includes “Two Buck Chuck,” the wine that costs just $2.49 to $3.79, depending on where you live. Franzia's family created the famous Franzia brand of boxed wine, but sold that business years ago and is no longer associated with it.

“There’s plenty of grapes, there’s wine here,” said Franzia, emphasizing that wine drinkers will still get the same product at the same low price from his brands. “We go through these cycles when some economic report comes out.”

Indeed, other experts threw some cold water (or wine?) on the Morgan Stanley report in the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday. While it’s true that European winemakers are seeing a decline in production, that comes after years of over-production, the experts said.

Meanwhile, California, the world’s fourth-leading wine producer, is poised to have a near-record harvest, the Chronicle reported.

Franzia, who has been in the wine business for decades, said it’s not uncommon for media to overhype a short supply or deluge of wine. He reminisced about a frenzy over a Bank of America report in the late 1960s or early 1970s that had wine lovers panicking then, too.

That doesn't mean there aren't grape shortages. But winemakers usually have about three to five years to brace for the effect of such shortages on their vintages, Franzia said. That means winemakers sometimes take advantage of hype to raise prices unnecessarily.

“All I know is that everybody that I deal with creates a shortage and then they get a higher price in their grapes,” said Franzia, who has been an outspoken critic of the higher-end wine industry. “It’s hocus-pocus.”



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