The popular Trader Joe’s wine known as Two-Buck Chuck will no longer be living up to his name after its price was raised to $2.49 from $1.99.
The cost of Two-Buck Chuck, sold under the Charles Shaw label and produced by Bronco Wine Co., was raised because of a shortage in wine crops in 2010 and 2011, Bronco spokesman Harvey Posert told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. But it was Trader Joe’s, not Charles Shaw, that decided on the price increase.
"If there's one grape too many, the price dips. If there's one grape too few, the price zips up. In the sense of being the largest grape grower, Bronco can ride many of these ups and downs,” Posert said. "But there were bad crops in 2010 and 2011, and that certainly impacted the industry," he said.
Two-Buck Chuck is Trader Joe’s bestselling wine, with customers praising both the price and quality of Charles Shaw shiraz or cabernet sauvignon.
Trader Joe’s shoppers joked about Two-Buck Chuck needing a new name following the price increase.
Matt Cook, a 28-year-old cook from Santa Rosa, told the Press Democrat that the wines should now be called “Inflation Chuck.”
Lisa Garrett, a 50-year-old Stewarts Point, Calif., resident, suggested “Upchuck.” She said her idea came from the price being raised and not the taste of the wine would cause someone to upchuck.
Charles Shaw was able to keep the price of Two-Buck Chuck at $1.99 because Bronco has 45,000 acres of vineyards, which allows it to weather fluctuations in grape prices, according to the Press Democrat.
Trader Joe’s was selling Two-Buck Chuck for $1.99 for 11 years, company spokesman Alison Mochizuki told the paper.
"In general, our retail prices change only when our costs change," Mochizuki said in an email. "We've held a $1.99 retail price for 11 years. Quite a bit has happened during those years and the move to $2.49 allows us to offer the same quality that has made the wine famous the world over."
Some customers aren’t thinking about chucking Two-Buck Chuck for good after the price increase – at least in the Santa Rosa area.
"My friends all like it," Santa Rosa resident Virginia Schrock, 86, told the Press Democrat. "Nobody sticks up their nose if you serve 'Two-Buck Chuck.' "
But others said Two-Buck Chuck is not for those with a sophisticated palate.
“You can't really take it to a party where people know wine," Barbara Levinson, 63, of Santa Rosa, told the paper. "I have a lot of friends in the wine business, so they're kind of particular. Snobby."
Two-Buck Chuck is cheaper on the West Coast then in some East Coast markets, where the wine sells for $2.99 and is known as “Three-Buck Chuck.”
Tucker criticized Trader Joe’s for increasing the price on Two-Buck Chuck.
“It’s blasphemy,” he told the Press Democrat. “People should maybe protest or boycott.”
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