The McBride Sisters Are Redefining Wine
This feature is in the March/April Next Wave Issue. Click here to subscribe.
Andréa (left) and Robin McBride MCBRIDE SISTERS PHOTO BY MICHELLE MAGDALENA
The McBride sisters, Andréa McBride John and Robin McBride, merged two worlds with their wines and life story. Before meeting in 1999, the siblings grew up not knowing the other existed. Andréa was raised in Marlborough, New Zealand, and Robin was raised on the other side of the globe in Monterey, Calif. They have the same father, whose wish before he died in 1996 was for them to unite. Although the sisters led separate lives, they instantly bonded over growing up in “two of the world’s most iconic wine-growing regions.”
Exploring wine together led to the creation of three core brands: McBride Sisters Collection, Black Girl Magic and SHE CAN. The pair is transforming the industry with what they call “a blend of old-world elegance and new-world finesse.” Their newest Luxury Reserve Wine Collection features three wines: Rebels (2020 gamay) and Papatūānuku (2019 pinot noir) are sourced from Central Otago, New Zealand, and launched in March. Abalone or Paüa? 2020 white blend from Paso Robles, Calif., arrives this April.
The 2022 Luxury Reserve Wine Collection. WINE BOTTLE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BRAND
The McBride Sisters’ community, which prides itself on excellence and luxury, is supported by celebrity fans, such as Viola Davis, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union and Patti LaBelle.
Being the largest Black-owned wine company in the U.S., Andréa and Robin have changed the narrative, employing 44% people of color and 85% women. They’ve made wine accessible with their eight-module course, McBride Certified: Wine 101 With Robin and Andréa, and by crafting wines that pair with cuisines from around the world.
What was your initial meeting in 1999 like?
RM: Sort of in an unspoken way, we both felt that bond immediately. And I think for myself at least, that moment was really transformative in that I realized that anything is possible. I think it really laid the groundwork for us being able to eventually come together to build a company based on something that we both love, and then continue to draw connections [with others].
“We created our core collection because we wanted to take people that are super curious about wines on this voyage between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres,” says Andréa McBride John. PHOTO BY MICHELLE MAGDALENA
How does your new reserve wine launch continue to tell your story?
AMJ: The name of the pinot noir is Papatūānuku, which means ‘Mother Earth’ in Māori. The label depicts a Māori woman integrated into the hillside of the vineyard. One part of my mum’s family were entrepreneurial farmers. Another part of my upbringing was with my foster family where we grew up with the native people of New Zealand. The one thing that they both have in common is they regard themselves as people of the land, who really value community, stewardship and the great honor and responsibility that comes with that. In Central Otago, the environment is so extreme. In very small proximity you have mountains with snow, penguins, a lake, dolphins, rainforest all in the same place. The region creates such pure, beautiful land. The other wine, Rebels, is our gamay. It has two black sheep on the label. It ties to our entrepreneurial story as Black women in the industry marching to the beat of our own drum. They’ll be poured at Saison, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in San Francisco.
How are you shifting this industry to be more inclusive?
AMJ: As we began to bond and get to know each other as women and sisters exploring wine together, it was very apparent that you’re the only Black woman or woman of color in that wine drinking scenario, and it was quite clear that the way that we were talked to and treated was much different. It was really clear that the wine industry didn’t care to market to or talk to younger and multicultural consumers. It also did a really bad job in terms of empowering women wine drinkers. That’s what we set out to do: connect our backgrounds and the wines that we loved to the wines that were specific to the places that we grew up with the type of experience that we knew we wanted to have. There are incredibly talented people of all races that can contribute to the wine industry in a beautiful and amazing way.