These Long-Lost Sisters Found Each Other — & Their Dream Job

Throughout most of their lives, sisters and winemakers Andrea and Robin McBride had no idea about each other. The siblings shared the same estranged father, different mothers, and lived about 7,000 miles apart — Robin in California and Andrea in New Zealand. When their dad became terminally ill, his last request was for them to connect. Thanks to the work of a private detective, a letter finally arrived in the hands of Robin. She had just relocated to Atlanta when she received word her father had passed and that she had a little sister across the ocean. As fate would have it, Andrea was in the U.S. visiting, and the two agreed to connect — and ended up meeting each other in a NYC airport. According to the pair, their bond was so strong, even moments after being introduced. They kept in touch and slowly realized they both had a shared passion for agriculture and winemaking. From there, the wines Truvée and Eco.Love were born. Since then, Robin and Andrea have been inseparable, and both currently reside in the Bay. We caught up with the duo to chat about everything from the struggles of being a female in a male-dominated industry to what it’s like working with the sister you never knew you had. Can you tell us more about how the wine companies came to fruition?
Andrea: "We started in the wine industry 10 years ago with the dream of one day owning our own company. Five years into it, we established our first brand, Eco.Love Wines, from New Zealand, and at the beginning of this year we launched Truvée Wines from the Central Coast of California. We feel like we get the best of both of our worlds — a wine brand from my backyard in New Zealand and a brand from Robin's in Monterey. " Tell us what it was like meeting each other for the first time.
Robin: "I actually thought I was seeing my own reflection at the end of the jetway. I only realized I was looking at my sister for the first time once the girl in the 'reflection' wasn’t walking when I was. Obviously a life-changing experience!"
How did you discover you both had a love for winemaking?
Andrea: "We both grew up around agriculture and newly developing wine regions in Marlborough, New Zealand, and Monterey, California. We discovered shortly after we met, the initial attraction for us both to wine is how it brings family, friends, and even complete strangers together. Once we started learning about wine, spending time in the vineyards, spending time together, it became our passion and obsession, and we're still going."

What are some of the challenges of being a female winemaker?
Andrea: "In any industry that is male-dominated, you just have to be prepared to put in more work, prove yourself, and kick through that glass ceiling."
Robin: "It’s not always overt, so sometimes we are challenged to explain how we are able to own a wine company or who gave us our start — that would be us. So even when it's not blatant sexism, we still feel we have to prove ourselves in business." Do you think the wine industry is changing, and if so, how?
Andrea: "The wine industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Wine drinkers are younger, and it's becoming more female-dominated. Add in the power of social media, peer reviews, and online shopping, the once very powerful publications, brands, and retailers have had to rethink their once very exclusive industry."
Robin: "There was a big push to market to women — which still exists — but I wouldn’t say it was always done the right way. I think there is more care on how the industry communicated to women and a better understanding of younger drinkers, and more ethnically diverse drinkers as well."
What advice do you have for women wanting to start their own business?
Andrea: "It's going to be one of the hardest, happiest, most frustrating, meaningful, stressful, and rewarding things you will do. Pick your business partners wisely, have a plan, and don't ever let anyone tell you that it's impossible. It's your dream...go live it!" What’s it like working with your sibling?
Robin: "I think it’s a unique situation for us, because it allows us to make up for lost time. Andrea and I still learn more and more about each other every day as we work side by side. I can’t imagine us finding each other and then having to catch up at the holidays! We’re very lucky."
Andrea: "We didn't grow up together, and consider finding each other a blessing. We really treasure our relationship, and there is a line we will never cross, even in the most stressful moments. We're fortunate that there is no sibling rivalry. And it just works that our strengths and weaknesses are complementary."
What’s been the biggest highlight in your careers so far?
Andrea: "Meeting Oprah!"
Robin: "Not only was meeting Oprah a pinch-me moment, but it also brought us full circle to what helped bring us together in the first place. Our family saw Oprah — in the '90s — showcase how to find someone, and that started the search that eventually united us. When the stars lined up again and we met Oprah, we felt like we have been on the right path from the beginning." What was the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Andrea: "Be tenacious and be patient."
Robin: "Listen twice as much as you speak. I often recall that advice and realize more and more that you need to not just listen but observe what’s going on in your industry and with the customers who support you. We definitely have opinions and things we want to share, but it’s important to hear from others."

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