Wine Industry Leader Bronco Wine Co. Turns 50

01/19/2024 by

For the past half century, Bronco Wine Co. has been at the forefront of innovation, disruption, and sustainability in the wine category, creating high-quality wines that over-deliver across price points.

December 27, 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of Bronco Wine Co. as it joins a rare group of wine businesses that have been continuously family-owned for 50 years.

To mark the milestone anniversary, the company will be honoring its past while looking toward the next 50 years with an increased commitment to sustainable and organic farming, launching new brands that appeal to a rapidly changing consumer, and ensuring the strength of the business for generations to come.

Today, Bronco Wine Co. continues its sustainability leadership which it began over a decade ago.

While the company has farmed its vineyards sustainably for years, in August of 2023, Bronco Wine Co. received certification from the rigorous Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) program for over 32,000 vineyard acres the Franzia family owns in California, making it one of the largest owners of sustainable vineyards in the state with nearly 2,000 acres transitioned to certified organic. In addition, all three of its wineries (CeresEscalonMadera) and bottling plant (Napa) hold California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Organic certifications.

"You don't last 50 years if you don't take care of the land at the core of your business," said Dan Leonard, Bronco Wine Co. President & CEO. "Respect for our vineyards is a cornerstone principle of the company and a commitment to sustainability runs through every aspect of our enterprise."

More than a decade ago, the company set out to achieve a Zero Waste certification, a designation that requires a company to divert 90% or more of its solid waste stream from landfills. It achieved Zero Waste certification in 2015. These efforts have paid off as the company's landfill diversion rate in 2022 was 99.78% and Bronco Wine Co. has proudly achieved Zero Waste Certification at all four of its facilities.

To further reduce the consumption of natural resources, the company is constantly looking at new ways to minimize materials in packaging design through innovations such as lightweight glass and shortened case partitions. Reducing CO2 emissions is also a focus, and the company transports wine via rail cars to reduce the number of trucks on the road. Each rail car replaces three trucks on the roadway.

Bronco is currently planning to use thousands of acres in the San Joaquin Valley to produce solar energy, marking an important step toward creating renewable energy to support the California energy grid.

"Our focus on vertical integration gives us an advantage to make these important commitments and to have an impact at scale," Dan Leonard said.

Honoring the Past

Founded by brothers Fred T. Franzia and Joseph S. Franzia, along with their cousin John G. Franzia, Bronco Wine Co. is today one of the largest privately-held U.S. vineyard holders and has established full vertical integration from vine to table.

"When we started the company in 1973 it was with an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit," said Joseph S. Franzia. "The three of us sat around a table at a local coffee shop and committed to doing things differently. We didn't know then that we were building something that would change the wine industry. It's incredible to look back at where we started 50 years ago and to see where the company is today."

With Fred's passing in late 2022, Joseph and John both stepped away from the board, paving the way for the second generation to oversee the business. Today, 13 second-generation cousins are involved and committed to expanding their fathers' entrepreneurial spirit.

"As a family-owned company, we have an unwavering commitment to growing, producing, and selling the finest quality wines of the highest value to our diverse customers worldwide," said Michael J. Franzia, second generation and Vice Chairman of the Board for Bronco Wine Co. "My siblings, cousins, and I carry forward the vision of our fathers every day as Bronco creates wines for people to enjoy."

The founders know the company is in good hands today. "It's because our founding principles of hard work, perseverance, and innovation are alive and well today that we know the next generation will not only carry on the legacy but direct the business to new heights," said John G. Franzia.

A History of Disruption

The company has a vast portfolio of brands from multiple appellations across the western United StatesEurope, and South America, including Rosenblum Cellars, Carmenet, Picket Fence, Crane Lake Cellars, and Longevity Wines, providing value at every price point across the category.

In 2002, Bronco Wine Co. launched Charles Shaw wine, affectionately known as "Two Buck Chuck," disrupting the wine industry with high-quality wines for a low price. This introduced scores of new people to wine and created an entirely new category of affordably priced wines.

"As we look to the future, we believe that Bronco Wine Co. has a distinct leadership role to play in introducing new consumers to wine and transforming the overall category," Michael Franzia continued. "We will continue to build brands and create offerings that resonate with new consumers and meet them where they are on their wine journey."

The Next 50 Years

The Franzia family is intent on ensuring the company flourishes for generations to come. The second-generation family members will continue to increase their roles and involvement. As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the company will release several new brands in 2024, including a higher-tier wine and an organic line.

"In the next 50 years, Bronco Wine Co. will continue to be stewards of the land, be a source of excellence in wine-grape growing and premium bulk wine, co-packaging, and logistics. We will continue to build teams to innovate by offering unique brands to meet the evolving needs of customers. We will be receptive and nimble in approaching change. We embrace the future mindfully, preserving our legacy while taking calculated risks for growth," says Michael Franzia.