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Sisterhood of the Traveling Winemakers

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When you think of wine, you usually picture a sophisticated drink served at formal parties or alongside a meal at a lavish restaurant. However, for two long-lost sisters, Andrea and Robin McBride, wine is much more than that. It reunited them after a five-year search and inspired them to start a wine business together.

Although born to different mothers, the McBride sisters were brought together by their estranged father, whose last wish (before dying of stomach cancer) was for them to meet. Unaware of each other’s existence for more than half their lives, the McBrides grew up on opposite sides of the globe – Andrea, 33, grew up in Marlborough, New Zealand, and Robin, 43, grew up in Monterey, California. Coincidentally, they were both raised in areas with newly developed vineyards and wineries. Meeting for the first time in New York in 1999, the McBride sisters bonded over their ringlet curls and passion for winemaking.

Glasses of wine

The decision to become business partners came after both sisters moved to California – for Robin, to relocate to Monterey, and, for Andrea, to start attending the University of Southern California – and went to wine tastings together. They started the McBride Sisters Wine Company in 2005, and, although new to the industry, the McBrides became suppliers to more than 100 restaurants in California within three years.

New Zealand vineyard

With over 11 years of experience, the McBrides now own two affordable luxury wine brands: Eco.Love Wines from New Zealand and Truvee Wines (which launched in January of 2015) from the Central Coast of California. Named after the French verb for “to find,” Truvee is a reflection of the sisters’ journey and honors Robin’s Californian roots. The sisters also take pride in the fact that their wine promotes sustainability and adopts environmentally-friendly practices such as water management. Both wine labels are sold in grocery stores across the US including Safeway, Kroger, and Ralphs.

Breaking the mold in a predominantly white, male business, the McBrides’ business team consists of 80 percent women, including their vineyard director and chief winemaker. According to Black Enterprise, a magazine highlighting black entrepreneurs and small businesses, only 10 percent of the wineries in California are owned by women, and the McBrides are the first African American sisters to own their own wine company.

Californian wine

Bringing further recognition to the African American community, the McBride sisters also served their new Chardonnay during a pre-Oscars party for the film Selma in 2015. The McBrides represent a breakthrough for women of color and prove they can take on leadership positions in the male-dominated marketplace. In addition, they use their success story and social media to empower women and support potential female entrepreneurs who are hesitant to step into the business world.

“We had these dreams and had we not met, we probably wouldn’t be in the wine industry, but we kinda felt like the stars lined up,” Andrea told CBS News. “The world brought us together; we’re invincible, we can do anything.”

Despite their numerous achievements, Andrea said the best part of running a wine business is pursuing her lifelong passion with the sister she never knew she had – for her, it is a dream come true.

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