Half-Sisters Making a Whole Lot of Difference in the Wine World
Founded in 2010, McBride Sisters Wine Company is the largest Black-owned wine company in the US.
Written by Bridget Williams / Photography courtesy of Michelle Magdalena & Garrick Gray
Half-sisters Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John grew up in world-class winemaking regions but on separate continents and no knowledge of one another until they were young adults. Robin hails from Monterrey, California, while Andréa spent the first 16 years of her life in New Zealand. While their father, who died in 1996, was not a prominent figure in their lives, their reunion was the fulfillment of his dying wish.
After meeting for the first time in 1999, they found themselves together in California in 2005, united by a shared passion for all things wine and a desire to shake up the industry with a blend of old-world elegance and new-world finesse. Capitalizing on Andréa's winemaking connections in New Zealand and Robin's business background in importing and exporting goods, they started in 2010 as importers of New Zealand wines before launching their own label five years later. Today, the McBride Sisters Wine Company has grown to become the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States.
Community, inclusivity, and philanthropy remain core company tenents. Today, a team comprising fifty-one percent of people of color and ninety-three percent women across two countries oversee three core brands: McBride Sisters Collection, Black Girl Magic, and SHE CAN.
The SHE CAN Fund, established in 2019, promotes the professional development of women as part of a concerted effort to help close the gender and race gap. The Fund pivoted to support Black-and-women-owned small businesses across several industries and awarded 30 women with $10,000 scholarships in response to the pandemic. This year, the Fund has announced it will be supporting women specifically in the hospitality and food and wine industries and awarding $50,000 scholarships to Southern University as part of the Fund's Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Initiative and Scholarship Program.
Making wine education more accessible and inclusive for all was the driving force behind the development of McBride Certified: Wine 101 with Robin and Andréa, a free, multi-module wine course available to anyone interested in wine. Prospective students—more than 10,000 to date— can request to join the Facebook group and complete the course at their own pace.
The McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Wine & Book Club launched in 2021 with publisher Simon & Schuster. Club members receive a book of the month, authored by a black woman author, paired with Black Girl Magic wines, and an invitation to a live virtual event with the author. The May selection is Speak, by Peloton fitness superstar Tunde Oyeneyin.
McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Wines, single-vineyard wines from California and New Zealand representing pivotal moments in the Sisters' journeys and founding story, sit at the top of the company's portfolio. This past March, they released a pair of wines from New Zealand, made by the brand's Kiwi-based winemaker, Diana Hawkins: Reserve Gamay “Rebels” 2020 ($69) and Reserve Pinot Noir “Papatūānuku” 2019 ($69). Reflecting the standout characteristics of New Zealand's southernmost and mountainous wine region of Central Otago, these wines illuminate Andréa's upbringing in Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand.
Available in late spring, the fifth McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Wine is the 2020 "Abalone or Pāua?", a white blend from Paso Robles, California made by the brand's Golden State winemaker Amy Butler. The name of this wine references the mother-of-pearl-lined sea mollusk and unites the two different cultures and hemispheres where the Sisters grew up. McBride Sisters Collection wines are available at various retailers throughout the United States and through their website, mcbridesisters.com.