From Marlborough to Monterey: How Separated Sisters Found Each Other Through Wine

The best way to get to know a sibling you didn’t know existed? Wine tastings.

From Marlborough to Monterey: How Separated Sisters Found Each Other Through Wine

Andréa and Robin McBride

Photo courtesy of Andréa and Robin McBride

For most of their lives, sisters and business partners Andréa and Robin McBride didn’t know each other. In fact, neither knew the other existed. The girls were raised on opposite sides of the world—Andréa in Marlborough, New Zealand, and Robin on California’s Central Coast. But even at a distance, they shared an unknown bond: wine. While Andréa learned grape farming techniques from her uncle in Marlborough, Robin spent years surrounded by vineyards in Monterey. When the two did meet, they discovered a shared interest, and it wasn’t long before they joined the wine world together.

These days the sisters are cofounders of two wine companies, one in each of their childhood homes, and they’ve just released their sixth wine, a summery rosé. We recently asked the McBrides how they went from wine-loving strangers to an unstoppable international winemaking duo.

How did you find each other?

Robin: “We didn’t meet until Andréa was 16 and I was 25. That was in the ‘90s. Both of us were born in L.A.. We have the same father but different mothers, and both our moms had crazy relationships with our dad. He was a character. Neither of our moms talked to him after they split, and they both moved away from L.A. My mom took me to Monterey, and she raised me by herself. Andréa’s mom moved back to New Zealand, where she was originally from, when she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, and after she passed away Andréa was raised by an uncle and in foster care, with no contact from our father.”

Andréa: “I reconnected with our dad when I was nearly 12 years old. He had called my foster family’s house wanting to reestablish our relationship. He was also ill with cancer at the time, and he wanted me to know that I had a sister and that he and his family were trying to find her. Unfortunately, he passed away, but before he did he asked his family to find Robin and to connect us. It took five years of searching to find her.”

What was it like meeting for the first time after having lived on opposite sides of the world?

Robin: “It was a very important time in our lives. We had the chance to just download to each other about all those years we were apart: where we lived, where we grew up, what it was like. Andréa was still in school at the time, and she ended up coming back to California—back to L.A., actually—for college. She would come up to Monterey and visit me on weekends, and we’d spend time in wine country just talking and getting to know each other. When Andréa was old enough, we started going wine tasting together.”

How did you come up with this dream of selling wine together?

Robin: “Wine was this bond that we had, the thing that we drank while we were getting to know each other.”

Andréa: “We came up with our first business plan around my junior year of college. I was studying global business, and Robin was in corporate America importing and exporting electronics. We had this dream of getting into the wine industry, and we were trying to piece together how to do it.

“We had no vineyards, no winery, and no money. So we figured the best way to start would be an import company. Somehow we convinced some small growers in New Zealand to let us import their wine to the States. We started with one bottle and walked into restaurants and hand-sold our wine. Soon we were selling wines to the top 100 restaurants in California.”

Vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand

Vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand

Photo by Christina Hendricks/Flickr

How did the business evolve?

Robin: “We knew that we didn’t want to import wines forever; we wanted to own vineyards and make our own wines. In 2009 we started our first company, Wines, in New Zealand. We source grapes from certified sustainable vineyards in Marlborough, where Andréa grew up, and in Nelson. Then in 2015 we launched our second business, Truvée Wines, in Monterey. Our Truvée grapes are sourced from all over the Central Coast.”

What are the differences between your Marlborough and Monterey businesses?

Robin: “I think the biggest difference is the environment: what grapes are grown in these two different parts of the world and how expressive they are. For example, we get the Grenache for our new Truvée rosé from a vineyard in Paso Robles, a couple hours south of Monterey. It’s the perfect place, because these grapes need hot, dry weather to thrive, which you don’t get in other parts of the world.

“We’ve spent a lot of time focused on and New Zealand wines. Now that focus is shifting toward Truvée and California. We’re especially excited about our newest baby, the Truvée rosé. It’s got all these beautiful fruit flavors and goes well with everything.”

Andréa: “We’re not super traditional winemakers or marketers. To us, it’s unrealistic to think that people aren’t going to want to pair our wines—or any wine, for that matter—with normal everyday foods. So our thought process is more like, What pizza is going to go really bomb with this rosé?

Robin: “This rosé is a great wine for travelers because you can drink it with anything. It even goes with fries—their saltiness really enhances the wine’s fruit flavors. And with a little gin and some grapefruit juice, it also makes an awesome cocktail!”

Sarah Purkrabek is a Los Angeles-based travel writer.
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