Fred T. Franzia, a leader in the winemaking industry and innovator of uniquely affordable wines, passed away on Sept. 13.

The Bronco Wine Company released a short statement on Tuesday, according to Wine Business:

“Bronco wine company is truly saddened by the passing of its founder and CEO Fred Franzia. The family asks that you respect their privacy in their time of mourning and advises that there will be a more formal announcement forthcoming.”

Credit: Bronco Wine Company. Fred Franzia (center)

The founder and CEO of Bronco Wine Company was 79, according to beverage news aggregator Wine Industry Insight. In an apparent letter to employees on Tuesday, the company shared that Franzia passed away at his family home in Denair, Calif. on the morning of Sept. 13:

“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our father and founding partner Fred T. Franzia. Fred died early this morning at his Redwood home in Denair, California, with family by his side. He was 79 years old. Renata would like to share a quote from her father, ‘We are fighting a good fight and at the end, we all have an expiration date.’ Fred has been private about health issues and we appreciate all your support during this time.”

The industry leader was known for creating the Charles Shaw brand at Trader Joe’s, which offered low-cost bottles of wine in the $2-5 price point — often dubbed “Two Buck Chuck.” Despite his similar namesake, Fred Franzia was in no way connected to Franzia, E & J Gallo’s popular line of boxed wine.

He is survived by five children and fourteen grandchildren. It’s currently unclear who might next assume a leadership role in the company.

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