Americans have been carrying on a torrid love affair with wine for some time; we’ve ridden the wine train so long that we now sip more wine than the French. Vino’s popularity is everywhere these days, from moscato-splashed brunches to malbec-sipping book clubs. In fact, wine consumption in the U.S. has continued to rise every year for the last 15 years, with Americans swilling a reported 895 million gallons (or 2.81 gallons for every man, woman and child) in 2014 alone.
Robin and Andréa McBride, two sisters who grew up worlds apart, are finding a nice niche in this almost $300 billion industry. The two established Truvée Wines in 2015 after spending years importing wines to top California restaurants. Today, Truvée has 25 employees, over $5 million in retail sales last year, and accounts with more than 10,000 bars, restaurants and wine shops from coast to coast.
Not bad for two sisters who are also sistas.
“The wine industry has been always been the old boys’ club,” says younger sister Andréa McBride, 33. “Subconsciously, the image of a successful person in that industry has always been a white man. It can be frustrating at times, you feel like you work twice as hard to prove yourself, but at the end of the day, it forces you to be great!”
This spring, the McBride sisters introduced a rosé varietal to their stable, along with their Truvée chardonnay and red blend.
“Rosé is an incredibly versatile wine,” says Robin McBride, 42, “so we thought we’d bring our love of rosé to consumers by making our own. It doesn’t hurt that it is the wine of everyone’s lips right now, and it pairs well with everything from summer barbecue foods like grilled shrimp to holiday meals like Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce.”
The sisters also have an incredible backstory—one that makes their product even richer. Twenty-five years ago, Andréa was living in New Zealand, and Robin in the U.S. They didn’t even know of each other’s existence until one fateful day in 1991.
“I was 25 when I received a letter in the mail from my father’s sister [dropping] two bombshells: my father had passed, and that I have a younger sister I had never known about,” starts Robin. “As you can imagine, it was a lot to take in at once. I called and my aunt picked up. She was over the moon when she realized it was me calling, because not only had they finally found me, but Andréa, who was 16 and still in high school at the time, was coincidentally visiting her from New Zealand for the Christmas holidays. I was living in Atlanta at the time, and Andréa was scheduled to travel to New York the next day to meet our father’s family living there, so I hopped on the first plane out and we met for the first time in glamorous LaGuardia Airport!”
“It was surreal,” Andréa confirms. “I was in New York City, with my new big sister, in a restaurant, and I was from a tiny little country at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere. We discovered that night that we both wanted siblings growing up, so we were thrilled to find each other.”
Years later, the sisters were both living in California (Andréa to study international relations and global business at the University of Southern California, and Robin had moved back there for work). The rest, they say, is herstory.
“We grew up nearly 7,000 miles apart, coincidentally, both in emerging wine regions, which is how we each shaped our own appreciation for wine. I was first introduced to the wine industry through an apprenticeship working on my uncle’s farm in Marlborough, New Zealand,” says Andréa.
“And I was raised in Monterey, Calif., surrounded by miles of vineyards, so I grew up having this appreciation and love of wine,” chimes in Robin. “We realized we had this shared passion for wine after growing up around it, and it became such a central part of our bond. We felt like the universe had put us together for a reason, to make a future together out of our separate pasts and tell our story, and that was through creating wine together.”
“Right around my junior year at USC, I started thinking about my career,” Andréa continues. “We both had a passion for wine, and we came up with the idea of going into business together. Robin already had a few years of experience in corporate America working in sales and marketing, which was really helpful.”
The sisters explained that because they initially didn’t have the capital to start their own company, they built an importing-and-exporting business, bringing sustainable wines from boutique New Zealand wineries to the top 100 California restaurants.
“We spent years building our brand and learning the industry, and eventually were able to create our first wine out of Andréa’s [New Zealand] backyard called eco.love wines, before creating wines out of my backyard on California’s Central Coast,” Robin explains.
The sisters’ winemaking credo is based on sustainable farming, and they try to seek out farmers with the same philosophy.
“Not only does it protect the environment; these grapes translate into beautiful, delicious wines,” says Robin.
As for what’s next, the sisters want to start an educational tour, of sorts, so that wine drinkers everywhere can be more informed about the basics of the nectar of the Gods.
“We only launched Truvée last year, so it is still our baby, and we’re very eager to share Truvée with wine drinkers across the country,” says Andréa. “Looking ahead, we also want to become a resource for new wine drinkers interested in learning about wine and food, and grow Truvée as your go-to wine!”
Angela Bronner Helm is a writer, editor and professor of journalism at the City College of New York. Follow her on Twitter.