Google black-owned wine brands, and these ladies appear in nearly every online round up. They've graced the digital "pages" of publications including Forbes, Refinery29, and Oprah Magazine. March is Women's History Month, and I'm pleased to feature Robin and Andréa McBride for the first female-focused piece of the Gastronoir series.
What about wine has given you both the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment?
Robin: Andréa and I grew up very far apart from one another, but have a connection that is surrounded around wine. We knew from experience and where we grew up--Robin from Monterey, CA and Andréa from Marlborough, New Zealand--that wine was a celebratory thing: you brought it to dinner with your family or girlfriends, and enjoyed it when something great happened.
The greatest fulfillment we get from winemaking is being able to see folks celebrating moments with their loved ones, even if it's the small, everyday moments, with our wine. Our wines are a reflection of us and our passion. Sometimes, when we are out and see someone coincidentally enjoying a glass of a McBride Sisters' brand, it almost brings tears to our eyes because we've created something that expresses who we are and where we come from.
Your recent VinePair article, that was posted during Black History Month, talks about the disconnect between wine marketers and African-Americans. While last month in particular was LIT with content across different types of media, are you more perturbed by this type of coverage, or does it serves as an opportunity to discuss the reality of the industry?
Andréa: It's absolutely happened because it's Black History month (chuckles)...no one is asking us these questions during Christmastime.
We kept it 100 and were pretty real in the VinePair piece. When it comes to media, we want to be careful about what we say, but at the same time, maintain integrity. Let's face it, we're putting people on. Diversity drives innovation--the wine industry would be a better place if we added more diversity whether that means more African-Americans, more Latinas, more women, or otherwise.
Your second wine brand, Truvée, is derived from the French verb "to find". After growing up 7,000 miles apart, you both found each other and discovered a mutual love for wine and business. What's the next "discovery" you both foresee for the McBride Sisters' brands?
Andréa: One of our big goals for 2016 is to host wine seminars for people who want to know more about wine in general, not just about the wines we make. There isn't a lot of access to these types of spaces without the industry credibility, so we'd like to open up the conversation and introduce more people to the wine industry through seminars, tastings, and on our digital platforms.
Resources for the wine novice?
Andréa: WineFolly recently came out with a book full with infographics. It has great images and makes the nerdy part of wine more palatable. There's also the wine tab on our blog.
"Let’s face it, we’re putting people on. Diversity drives innovation—the wine industry would only be a better place if we added more diversity whether that means more African Americans, more Latinas, more women, or otherwise."
The Truvée wine team is made up of passionate and industry-experienced women. Define what womanhood means to you both, personally and professionally.
Robin: Outside of who you employ to work with you, womanhood is about support. No one can support women and their goals like other women can. We learned that as we were clawing our way through a male-dominated industry. We have mentors with diverse professional backgrounds, and we kept those relationships close to foster our community of support. Female consumers have also become our biggest support. The effect of what we do wouldn't exist without women behind us.
As far as everyday work, we vibe better with women when it comes to creativity and day-to-day tasks. We don't exclude men, but we do have similar work styles, and share the same vision as our female colleagues.
What advice do you have for the traveler looking to experience California Wine Country?
Andréa: We prefer the more rural and low-key places to visit. There's the Paso Robles wine region where you'll find a lot of Rhone varieties like Syrah and Mourvedre. It's in the Central Coast, where we make wine, and has a great small-town feel. Stay at Hotel Cheval, an intimate, family-run, 16-room hotel perfect for a visit to the area.
Robin: No shade to Napa, but it can be very impersonal. There is a bit of a disconnect between winery and visitor, and it's become quite expensive. I'm a bit partial, but Monterey, where I grew up, is a nice contrast to Paso Robles, and offers a visitor a great personal experience. You can get as nitty-gritty as you want, chat with the winemakers, meet the dog and walk the vineyards. Check out the the smaller production areas of Carmel Valley or Santa Lucia Highlands wine trail for world-renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and cozy Bed & Breakfasts.
Name a few of your favorite food + wine pairings that are a bit more non-traditional.
Robin: A lot of times you see these traditional pairings, but it's not something you would make at home. What layperson is making duck confit at their house? Andréa is big on this, so I'll let her take it away...
Andréa: German off-dry Riesling (has to be slightly sweet) + sweet potato pie, Champagne or sparkling wine + fried chicken, and an old tawny port + molten chocolate cake.
Stay tuned for more lady love on the blog throughout the month of March.