The McBride Sisters tell Moneyish about making it in a male-dominated field and why everyone loves rosé
It’s a wine company with a provenance of its own.
Half-sisters Andréa and Robin McBride grew up on opposite ends of the world with no knowledge of each other’s existence. Their geographical separation, the former was raised in New Zealand and the latter in central California, was the result of their dad being “quite a character” whom both their mothers left. It was only years after his death that the sisters connected and found out that by chance they’d both grown up in vineyard country and shared a love of the good stuff.
Their initial encounter in 1999 sparked McBride Sisters Wines. Founded in 2005 as an importer of wines from the Land of the Long White Cloud, the label now produces a selection of sparkling rosé, reds and whites, all of which retail for under $20. “If you grow up in an agricultural area, you have a lot of respect for what it takes to produce wine,” Robin, who at 43 is the older of the two, tells Moneyish. “Once Andréa and I got to know each other, we understood we have this common experience and respect for what it takes.”
But the siblings aren’t notable just for their biography. They’re also both relatively young black women in an industry long dominated by older, white men. Think of the more famous names in American winemaking— Mondavi and Coppola amongst them—and images of rugged farmers out west come to mind quickest.
As such, cultural stereotypes initially posed a challenge. “We’d get questions as to how we owned the company and had to explain things our peers didn’t have to before we got around to selling,” says the 35-year-old Andréa. “People hadn’t met women like us before so we had to do a lot of qualifying.”
Despite their love of fermented booze, neither sister had any experience in selling alcohol before they founded their label. That led to initial faux pas, such as dropping by restaurants during lunchtime and asking for the wine buyer. “There’s an etiquette in how you sell wine and times of the day during which the trade can go in,” says Andréa. “They couldn’t believe we had the nerve to sell during lunchtime, which was embarrassing.”
Still, the changing demographic of wine consumers has worked out to the sisters’ benefit. According to the Wine Market Council, millennials drank 42% of all wine consumed in America in 2015— the most of any generation. American women also drink more than men, quaffing down 57% of wine. In turn, that’s led to a diminishing of the stuffiness frequently associated with the industry. “They’ve started to realize the pretentious image isn’t serving the business,” says Robin. “There’s now an effort to show wine can be integrated into everyday life. You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy it.”
That partly explains the resurgence of rosé, once a wine confined to the summer months and often associated with younger, female drinkers. Data from Nielsen show that rosé market is now worth $389 million, up 57% from a year ago and growing faster than the likes of Riesling, Zinfadel and Malbec. “Consumers have figured out that you can extend rosé into lifestyle drinks like sangria, wine cocktails and frosé,” says Robin. “There’s so much versatility.”
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