Here's Why Trader Joe's "two-buck Chuck" Is So Cheap

Posted: Dec 18, 2019

A two-dollar bottle of wine sounds almost crazy if you think about it for two seconds. How can booze cost around the same as a bottle of soda? But Trader Joe's makes it work, selling the iconic Charles Shaw wine, or "Two-Buck Chuck," for $1.99 plus tax. So how does this stuff actually get so cheap? Business Insider did some digging to figure it out, and it has to do with growing and producing the stuff in bulk.

The wine, which debuted in 2002, is made by an offshoot of the famous Franzia family, which makes the boxed wine you know and love. Bronco Wine, which makes Charles Shaw, grow in the San Joaquin Valley in California, which is cheaper than growing in fancier Napa and Sonoma because temperatures are higher. And though most wines are aged in oak barrels, Charles Shaw wine uses oak chips to cut costs.

And second, the production of the wine in bulk, using machines rather than human labor, keeps costs down. Once the wine is made, it's placed in lighter bottles and cartons than your typical wine to decrease shipping costs. You can read more about Charles Shaw's cost-cutting at Business Insider.

These factors combine to create a wine that can sell for so cheap. But it doesn't always work; back in 2013, they had to hike the price up to $2.49 because of a few years of bad crops. But still, these wines actually win awards, and Trader Joe's has expanded its cheap-wine inventory, recently unveiling canned sparkling wines that cost $4 for a four-pack. Because what goes better with cookie butter than some wine that doesn't break the bank?

By Megan Friedman
May 15, 2017

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