Heard it through the Grapevine

Although what I’d really like to do is publish another homage to tomatoes, I figure everyone’s relishing the last of their summer fruits, soaking in every last ray of sunshine on their tongues in a sweet-tart-dance of happiness. You’re doing your own smoking / roasting / canning / slicing / milling / stewing and swooning…you don’t need to hear about mine. So down into the cellar we go, deep into the bowels of the earth, to whisper a rumor from my very own ‘Deep Throat’. (Not my throat…my Deep Throat.)


I have it on good authority that a combination of economic crisis and harvest have conspired to create another Central Valley / Central Coast grape glut. From my trench-coated, rubber-booted inside informant (with no stake in sales) comes this:

For obvious reasons, sales of pricier wines have suffered over the past year. For many, it makes no economic sense to spend the money bottling new juice that will simply end up being severely undervalued.* With the harvest coming up, the rubber’s hit the road and wineries are being told to clear out their stored juice from, where else? Charles Shaw. With its millions of gallons of storage (oak barrels and stainless tanks) and massive bottling plants, Fred Franzia’s Bronco Wines operation (aka Charles Shaw) is once again in the catbird seat, buying up juice for pennies on the dollar.

The good news for us is that this $15 to $20 wine-worthy-juice will soon become Three Buck Chuck.

For some, no number of “really’s” before “good” can make a $3 Chuck good enough. It’ll always be swill and you’d rather stick with a reliable $15 Cotes du Rhone. I get that. But I’ll also be picking up periodic cabs and merlots (I don’t know if this affects all varietals or one in particular) along with my milk, yogurt and tunafish, especially after the “2008” on the label switches to “2009”. If it’s swill, the bottles will still make a respectable braising liquid for winter short-ribs, oxtails and pigs’ feet.

*Why higher end wineries don’t just bottle their juice and sell it for cheap, I don’t know. Brand dilution, perhaps?

P.S. Pssst! Look at this gorgeous bowl of tomatoes! Our bedraggled little plants have been cranking fruit out heroically since the first of July. Okay, couldn’t resist. Now pretend you didn’t see this. IMG_1636


  1. bb Said,

    September 29, 2009 @ 11:09 am

    You know this hurts me, don’t you? Innocuous? yes. Cooking wine worthy? Yes. Boring drinking? No thanks. Of course one never knows when the apocalypse is coming, so check with me then. And I thought I knew you! ;)

  2. dds Said,

    September 29, 2009 @ 11:18 am

    Believe you me, I thought long and hard about the ramifications to our friendship if I posted this. A better photo shoot is perhaps in order, wherein I stack up all my best bottles of wine, labels showing, with some sort of “Purchased gleefully at Vino” sign casually laid nearby.

    Forgive me. But you know how I can’t resist a deal…or a rumor….

  3. Cyn Said,

    September 30, 2009 @ 8:55 am

    Oh, maaaan….Bruce will never speak to us again, not to mention letting us grace Vino’s threshold.

  4. bb Said,

    September 30, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

    what I really would like to know is how many people would see that picture and realize those are bottles of Thomas Pinot peeking out at the top edge??!

  5. Jill Said,

    October 12, 2009 @ 11:31 pm

    I think you make a great point about using the CS for cooking, Denise. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the ’09. And, of course, this won’t keep us from Vino…babies will be guilty of that! (Although I think that back room might make a good child care section so mommy and daddy can drink with their friends in peace!)

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