I've often wondered why Fred Franzia doesn't just pony up $5 million for the department of viticulture and enology at UC Davis so his name can go on the school's new teaching and research winery. That would put him in the same neighborhood with the Robert and Magrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, thereby raising in prestige Franzia's home territory, California's Central Valley. He may yet. For sure, Franzia seems to be warming up to the Sacramento area, to judge by this startling article from the trade magazine Wines & Vines.
In short, consultants to Franzia's Bronco Wine Company, long based in Ceres, have indicated to County of Sacramento authorities that winery officials are thinking of building a new production facility, possibly in the county's southwest reaches. Thus their appearance at a public hearing convened by county planners earlier this month to discuss a proposed new winery ordinance.
Bronco, as writer Jon Tourney notes in the Wines & Vines article, is the fourth largest winery in the nation, producing 12 million cases per year. With 40,000 vineyard acres, Bronco is the largest wine-grape grower in the state. Its dozens of wine brands inclue Napa Creek Winery, ForestVille Vineyard and Salmon Creek Cellars, but it is best known for wines under the label of Charles Shaw, better known as "Two Buck Chuck," sold exclusively through the Trader Joe's chain of specialty markets.
Of nearly 20,000 acres of wine grapes cultivated in Sacramento County, Bronco owns 1,000, concentrated in the Herald area east of Galt, in the shadows of the mothballed Rancho Seco nuclear power plant, whose twin cooling towers could house Bronco's biggest fermentation tanks yet, though no one has suggested that. Indeed, beyond indications that Bronco is looking at building a new production facility, no one with the company would discuss the proposal with Wines & Vines.
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