Bronco Wine Co. got support Thursday night for a major expansion at its headquarters south of Ceres — and praise for a notable product.
The Stanislaus County Planning Commission voted 7-0 for a rezoning that will ease the way for new warehouse and office space. The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision on the plan, expected to create about 30 jobs at the Keyes Road site.
Bronco markets its wines under dozens of labels and also sells bulk wine to other producers. It is best known for Charles Shaw, which first sold for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s stores and came to be known as Two Buck Chuck. It’s now up to $2.99.
Commissioner Katherine Borges recalled that a 2005 version was named best chardonnay at the California State Fair. It competed against about 350 higher-priced bottles.
Borges suggested that Bronco add a tasting room, but company representative Dan Leonard said that is not in the plan.
“It’s a production facility supporting ag, supporting grapes,” said Leonard, a vice president and treasurer.
Bronco, founded in 1974, is one of the nation’s largest wine producers. The Keyes Road site does crushing, fermenting, aging and bottling of a large part of its volume. About 325 people work there year-round, and seasonal employees can bring the total to 550.
Leonard declined to say how much the expansion will cost. The first phase, taking up to five years, includes a 120,000-square-foot warehouse that is part of an eventual 613,000 square feet of new storage. This phase also involves two spurs from the Union Pacific Railroad line next to the site, which Leonard said would cut down on truck traffic.
Bronco plans to move into the later phases as wine sales grow. They include 81,000 square feet for offices and other space for training and other needs.
John Holland: 209-578-2385
THE WHOLE STATE’S BOOMING
California wineries had another banner year in 2016, the Wine Institute reported this week. The highlights:
▪ Volume to U.S. markets reached 238 million cases, up 2 percent from 2015.
▪ Domestic sales were up 4.6 percent to $34.1 billion. The average price per bottle has been rising in recent years.
▪ U.S. wine exports, 90 percent of them from California, hit $1.62 billion.
▪ Chardonnay led varietels in domestic volume at 20 percent. Cabernet sauvignon was at 15 percent, red blends at 12 percent.