Long-lost sisters unite to found largest Black-owned wine company, invest in women entrepreneurs

The McBride Sisters Wine Company brought in $5 million in annual sales in October 2020 and has donated $3 million to women-owned businesses

Two sisters who grew up not knowing each other and continents apart are breaking barriers in the wine industry and carving a lane for other women of color interested in doing business in the food and beverage space.

Andréa McBride and her sister, Robin McBride, are the founders and owners of the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States, The McBride Sisters Wine Company, which topped $5 million in sales in a 12-month span ending October 2020, according to Wine Spectator.

The McBride sisters, who launched the company in 2005, are an unlikely duo in the world of wine where just 0.1% of the approximately 8,000 wineries in the U.S. are Black owned, Bloomberg reports.

Robin McBride (left) and Andréa McBride (right), founders of The McBride Sisters Wine Company. (via The McBride Sisters Wine Company)

The wine industry is made up of numerous family dynasties and a small group of older white wealthy men dominate the business. Being associated with those people provides the best path to opportunities and success, which was not afforded to the sisters, Robin McBride said, as told by NBC News.

“It’s definitely an old boys’ club,” McBride told the news outlet. “And so obviously for us coming in as opposite — really of everything that, to that point had been successful in the wine world, which was an older white man — we definitely were looked at as not just not belonging, but really incapable of being successful.”

It wasn’t an easy process getting The McBride Sisters Wine Company off the ground.

The sisters launched the business completely on their own without funding from investors, beginning with the nearly $2,000 needed to cover licensing paperwork.

On the road to selling 35,000 cases and producing $5.5 million in revenues in the 2020 fiscal year, the McBrides had to navigate the complicated process of getting wine to shelves, including convincing wholesalers, distributors, retailers and other players to take a chance on their products.

That process came after Andréa McBride endured a difficult journey to find and meet her long-lost sister, Robin, a search that ended when they met about 17 years ago.

While living in a foster home in New Zealand at the age of 16, Andréa McBride received a call from her estranged father, who she had not spoken to in six years and was dying of stomach cancer. He dialed his daughter to inform her she had a sister, Robin, who he lost touch with after a divorce from her mother, NBC News reported.

Andréa McBride would travel to Alabama for the funeral, after which the family assisted in the search for her sister, sending letters to every Robin McBride they could find, including one in Monterey, California.

 “We laugh to this day because Andréa was very excited because, of course, she’s known about me for a long time,” Robin McBride told NBC. “I literally just found out about her a few minutes before I called … And she had a lot to share with me.”

The sisters discovered they had a mutual love of wine, which led to them starting their own wine company.

The McBride sisters aren’t simply focusing on their success. They’ve started initiatives to support Black women and women of color interested in the food and wine industry.

The She Can Fund, which the pair launched in 2019, has invested more than $3 million to date in underrepresented women in the food and wine industry, according to NBC. It’s their way of trying to help diversify the industry.

“When we first started, (the wine world) was definitely a place where we felt like we didn’t belong,” Robin told NBC. “And now we do.”

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