My Birthday Wish? That All Women Are Empowered!
Thank you to everyone for your kind & thoughtful birthday wishes this year. This one is really special to me. For my birthday, I’ve wished for all women to feel empowered. Not a small feat, but we’re asking you to contribute to a cause that’s close to our hearts. A contribution can be a pledge to raise women up at your company, encourage your best friends to apply for that dream job or if possible, donate to our professional development scholarship program. But before that, I want to tell you a little more about where our drive to shake up the industry and empower women throughout business originates from. I’m hoping to give this amazing community a look into who I am and this company I’ve built with my sister, Andréa. I think the story of my life as a woman becoming an entrepreneur, in a male dominated industry, leads perfectly into the purpose and drive we have to empower other women with our McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund.
As you know, I’m Robin McBride — the other half of this sister run company. I am currently the head of winemaking operations, human resources, finance and our direct to consumer program. My role taps into the things that I care about the most, the science of grape growing and winemaking, my interest in people and my drive to run my own business.In a speed round of “get to know me”, here are some of my favorite things!
- The cocktail I’m always reaching for is a French 75, that’s why we made our own twist on the classic. Mix up our Oakland 75 using our McBride Sisters Collection Sparkling Brut Rosé for your new favorite drink!
- I love farm life. Cultivating from the earth and living on land that has a purpose. I eventually hope to make my own cheese and raise my own goats
- I love music, Bossanova is close to my heart as my grandma used to listen to when I was younger. My eclectic taste is rooted in memories and moments that a song can take me back to and Lizzo just makes me feel amazing. Here is my birthday spotify playlist, turn the music up!
- My favorite wine ever is Chateau Y’quem, a Sauterne from France where I ended up working a harvest!
Why Wine? Becoming An Entrepreneur
I get asked often who my role models in wine or business were and truthfully I really didn’t have any. When I was growing up I wanted to be so many things, from a flower farmer, a volcanologist, and a particle physicist. I always loved science and I knew my dream job needed to include science. Wine was always in my life growing up in Monterey, California. As one of the main industries in that area, I was surrounded by vineyards and wine professionals.
The reason I started to thoughtfully pursue a career in wine was because I felt that wine, as a product and process, ties in with agriculture and a social experience. It’s not only an incredibly complex product that taps into my childhood dreams of wanting to do things in science and chemistry, but it also is something made for people to enjoy. They can laugh, cry, give a toast, share stories and connect with others over a simple, yet tasty, glass of wine. Wine is science, wine is agriculture and wine is an experience.
As an adult, I was having dinner with friends for our weekly Sopranos night, we’d watch an episode and my friend would chef up an italian dish from the show. One night, we had finished a bottle of Merlot and brought out another bottle of Merlot from the same place, with the same terroir. The wine was completely different. It caught my attention and I couldn’t shake my interest. What are these winemakers doing to make these products so different? I felt all of my interests in the chemistry and biological processes ignited as I continued to think about how much went into a bottle of wine and the power you had to alter the experience. Wine, for me, was never the same. I was hooked.
When I first met Andréa, the bond and relationship truly solidified so many things for me. First off, Andréa’s uncle in New Zealand was a grapegrower and she had also grown up in wine country. Further reinforcing that I needed to explore this industry and now I had her by my side. At the time, I was living in Atlanta. I had moved there after one visit because I was so amazed to see Black Excellence and professionals and universities in the 90s. I saw so much success in the Black community and such incredible culture. It was a really cool melting pot and I saw so much opportunity.
We get asked a lot why we eventually chose to build our business out of Oakland. And we like to tell em’ loud and proud that Oakland is where it's at! When we started making our own wines, I was commuting from the Central Coast, where I chose to raise my twins. Being close to San Francisco was key as it is a business hub and brought us closer to Northern wine country. But in the end, we chose Oakland because we wanted to find a place that had heart. Culturally, Oakland was a better fit and at the time a resurgence in the culinary and wine scene had begun. The city felt diverse and creative.
Empowering Women Along The Way
We wanted to break the rules of the wine industry but more importantly break the unwritten rules of women being pushed to the side. I grew up around only strong, independent women and am still under the impression that you don’t need men to make something successful. It was appalling to see the inequity in the business. Not only what Andréa and I experienced, but also witnessed across industries. Luckily, we're tough and were not going to be pushed off our path. But some women are not so lucky. It was painful to see the talent of the women in the industry being held back by the archaic nature of the business. The second we had a penny or a minute, we wanted to make sure we did something to help change that. That’s why we started our McBride Sisters SHE CAN FUND.
Our Impact To Date
The McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund stems from the mission Andréa and I focused on from the beginning — We want to transform the industry, lead by example, and cultivate community, one delicious glass of wine, at a time. As our company grew, so did our goals to help empower, educate and support women in their careers. We need more women in leadership positions, that’s why the SHE CAN Fund is investing in women. We’re helping build the next generation of women leaders by supporting the continued education, coaching and professional certifications for women working in traditionally male-dominated fields through our non-profit. You can now donate directly to the fund and learn more about the 42 women that have been awarded professional grants & scholarships so far on our website here.
Are you able to Donate? Find direct access to donate to our McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund here.
This year for my birthday, I want women to be empowered. I want to do my part in raising up the next generation of women leaders and create pathways for them to work their way to the top, where they belong. The moment Andréa and I had a penny or a minute to spare, we wanted to make sure we did something to help change these gender inequalities in business — and we have no plans on stopping anytime soon. Celebrate with me and wherever you can, raise up the women in your life. SHE CAN do anything.