Trader Joe's Wine Is Less Than $3 a Bottle for a Reason

Lower quality grapes and mass production help
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2017 3:34 PM CDT
Trader Joe's Wine Is Less Than $3 a Bottle for a Reason
A worker stacks cases of Charles Shaw wine at the Bronco Wine Company facility in Napa, Calif., Tuesday, April 17, 2007.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

When Charles Shaw wines first debuted at Trader Joe's in 2002, they lived up to the name "Two Buck Chuck," costing just $1.99 a bottle. And yes, plenty of critics call the wine undrinkable and worse, even accusing parent company Bronco Wine of not removing such harvest debris as dead birds, insects, and rodents from its crops of grapes. But far more people like it enough to buy it, with more than 800 million bottles sold since then. So Business Insider set out to calculate just how the wine can be produced so cheaply, and a lot of it comes down to simple location and sheer volume.

Bronco Wine may be "bottled in Napa Valley," per its label, but the grapes are grown in a far less prestigious and ideal area: California's hot Central Valley. This means grapes grow in great abundance, with huge harvests, but the heat scorches quality. Bronco also ferments the wines in oak chips instead of barrels, uses a cheap form of natural cork for its corks, and ships in lighter bottles and cheaper brown boxes. The wines are even described as being "freeway aged," meaning they only age on the truck ride to the bottling facility in Napa, per Marketplace. Volume helps, too, with 90 million gallons of wine produced a year. Like the price but not the product? Trader Joe's is introducing $1 cans of wine from an Italian supplier that Delish reports "sound amazing." (These wines are made with condoms.)

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