There's a war on bluster, and Fred Franzia is losing. Sure, the CEO of Bronco Wine, the nation's fourth-largest wine company, tells me repeatedly that only a sucker would pay more than $10 for a bottle of wine - including his own $35 Domaine Napa. And that Napa's and Bordeaux's claims about their special soils are bogus: "We can grow on asphalt. Terroir don't mean sh*t." After relieving himself by the side of his Jeep, Franzia recounts a trip to Burgundy where, after an elaborate tasting, he told the winemaker at Château Haut-Brion, "You can bottle gasoline if you can sell that."
There is nothing like coming home, and I got the chance to do that today thanks to an invitation to join in a lunch forum hosted by the Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno, which sets out to train new leaders.