The McBride Sisters is the largest African American-owned winery in the United States.
We’ve sampled The McBride Sisters’ Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Red Blend. We find them to be very well-balanced bottles, easy to pair with different kinds of food, as well as reasonably priced. We also like the idea of supporting a company that offer an opportunity for ceiling-smashing entrepreneurs to build on their wine production.
Sisters Andréa and Robin McBride have created wine that’s affordable, accessible and now available throughout the Chicago area (at multiple locations, but your best bet is Binny’s). I spoke to both sisters about their lives and their wines.
What inspired you to get into the wine business?
Andréa: Robin and I grew up in two of the world’s most iconic wine-growing regions—Monterey, California and Marlborough, New Zealand—so our love affair with wine was planted at a very early age.
Robin: In addition to a shared passion for all things wine and winemaking, we’re fueled by a desire to shake up the industry.
Your winery’s tagline is “Break the rules. Drink the wine.” What rules of winemaking are you breaking?
Andréa: Well, we’re not going to give away the golden goose and share all our secrets! What fun would that be? Okay, maybe it would be fun. Ultimately, we believe the rules should not overshadow the experience.
Robin: We want our customer to be in charge of what she likes and what makes her happy. The rules need to be broken when they do not represent her.
Tell us about what you were going for with your Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Red Blend.
McBride Sisters Chardonnay
Andréa: This wine is from Edna Valley in the Central Coast of California, sustainably farmed and just delicious! All you ABC—Anything But Chardonnay—ladies, this isn’t your grandma’s oaky Chardonnay. This wine feels more like a French white Burgundy.
Robin: You get aromas of golden apples, pears, citrus and white roses. Once you take a sip, you get all those flavors supported by a roundness and smoothness from the French oak barrels we use, juxtaposed with acidity and freshness that keep you coming back for more.
McBride Sisters Sauvignon Blanc
Andréa: In each glass of this wine, we’re taking you on a trip to New Zealand. There’s nowhere else in the world that can give you Sauvignon Blanc like this. Our Sauvignon Blanc is sustainably farmed in one of the world’s most pure, clean and green environments, at the bottom of the world. Literally: go any farther south and you run into Antarctica. The aromatics jump out of the glass, hitting your nose with passion fruit, grapefruit and white florals. We’re serving up a full spectrum of flavor that comes from being obsessed with giving you the best and fullest expression of this savage wild grape.
McBride Sisters Red Blend
Robin: We want to take you into the most prestigious American Vineyard Areas in the Central Coast of California, Paso Robles and Monterey. With this wine we were inspired to give you “black excellence, opulence, decadence,” plus smoothness and elegance from a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon Red Blend. In the wine business, black fruit aromas and flavors are what you find in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and black plums). And the French oak we use, think of it as the spice rack that provides the opulence and decadence in the form of spice and vanilla. This wine is completely dry, which means it has no residual sugar, but the aromas and taste make you feel like you’re eating a blackberry cobbler.
Talk about the SHE CAN Development Fund.
Robin: Our SHE CAN Development Fund channels the strength of our moms into helping other female entrepreneurs jump through doors and break ceilings. In 2020, we centered our commitment on women-owned and Black-owned businesses, recognizing that it’s been a hard time for all, and that these companies have been hit especially hard.
Andréa: We want to help these businesses not only survive but thrive during these unprecedented times, while also helping to bridge the gender and race gap.
Your wines have been described as having “Old World style and New World finesse.”
Robin: Let’s start with the Old World. With our entire portfolio we are trying to express the best representation of the wine that’s unique to that vineyard and place in the world. It starts with sustainably farming the grapes, the dirt the vines are grown in, plus the water source, sunshine hours and the flora and fauna that are in harmony with the vineyard. All these forces provide unique flavors in the skins of the grape that we translate into the wine you taste.
Andréa: What can be done in New Zealand can’t be done in California and vice versa—that’s the beauty and art of wine. “New World finesse” describes how we see the wine experience through our rosé-colored glasses, which always starts with thinking about her best wine occasion and wine mood, what she wants from her wine experience and making sure we can deliver that to her, oftentimes breaking those old world rules… With pleasure!
Some words from Phil Long, president of the African American Association of Vintners
Phil Long, producer of Longevity wines and president of the African American Association of Vintners, tells us, “The McBride sisters have gone above and beyond in aligning with AAAV’s mission. Not only have they done a fantastic job growing their own brand, but they’re now helping pave the path for smaller brands owned by POC to become successful as well.”
Representing the Black community is important because although they represent a large portion of the wine-consuming public, Long says that “the small percentage of African Americans in the wine industry is due to the fact that there’s been a serious lack of awareness that a career path exists and that there actually are Black winemakers and proprietors in the industry. As president of the Association of African American Vintners, one of my primary goals is to increase awareness on both fronts. We’re providing more exposure for Black winemakers today and establishing a clear career path through scholarships and internships that help inspire the Black winemakers of tomorrow.”
It doesn’t require huge numbers to have a huge impact. Having a Black U.S. president and now a Black—and female—vice president, the minds of Americans continue to be opened to the possibilities that our country, when governed responsibly, offers to all people. “I believe,” says Long, “that diversity and inclusion are extremely important for the human race.”
Dining and Drinking Editor for Newcity, David also writes a weekly food column for Wednesday Journal in Oak Park and is a frequent contributor of food/drink and travel pieces to the Chicago Tribune, Plate Magazine and other publications. David has also contributed chapters to several books, including Street Food Around the World, Street Food, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org