Hollywood and Vine: Actress Drew Barrymore’s Wine Business in Full Swing

By Gabe Saglie
(published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on September 27, 2012) 

Drew Barrymore is, easily, a household name, and she’s hoping her new retail venture – a wine released under that same recognizable name – will be one, too.

The 37-year-old actress, whose Tinsel Town credits include hit films like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Charlie’s Angels and her directorial debut, Whip It, has launched an eponymous label, Barrymore.  It’s a nod to her family, which includes multiple generations of actors.  And its premiere release is a crisp, fruity pinot grigio, which she says is approachable by design.

“I do think wine is communal, like family,” Ms. Barrymore told the News-Press.

The 2011 vintage wine hails from the northeastern wine region of Italy, near Venice, and, at 12% alcohol, it was fermented entirely in stainless steel tanks to preserve bright fruit character.  Some 6,000 cases were imported for distribution throughout the U.S., including local restaurants like Blush, Café del Sol and Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort.  Ms. Barrymore did not make the wine; rather, her goal is to find wines she, herself, enjoys and introduce them to the American marketplace.

“For me, and not to sound biased, this is my favorite pinot grigio I have ever drunk,” she says.  “It hits all the right notes for me while avoiding tastes that do not speak to me. It is refreshing, subtle yet complex and can go down very easy.”

This inaugural release was clearly inspired by Ms. Barrymore’s own travels.  “Traveling through Italy is one of my favorite things to do in life.  It is my favorite food and I love that people can have a glass of wine at lunch,” she says.  “There is a communal ease about wine and food there that is so romantic that if I was to bring something over to America it would be that confidence and knowledge, whether that be culinary or just simply how to live.”

Her new business is also an extension of her everyday life, which includes recent nuptials to art dealer Will Kopelman.  The two married in early June in Ms. Barrymore’s Montecito home, where she’s started a “small but meaningful” cellar and where she regularly enjoys cooking from scratch.  ”I would not have been able to say this two years ago but yes, a miracle has occurred in my kitchen and it is me not crying and tearing my hair out as I cook,” she says.  “I now love cooking and I just love the whole food and wine aspect to life. And yes, I do like reducing wine into food as I cook as well.”

Ms. Barrymore is also quick to admit that life well north of Hollywood plays prominently in her personal culinary exploration.  In her adopted hometown of Montecito, she likes to dine at Lucky’s and to shop for wine at the Liquor and Wine Grotto; both locales feature her wine.  “And there is the wine row on Anacapa,” she adds, referring to the quickly growing wine scene in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

The actress-turned-vintner plans to grow her portfolio steadily, undeterred by the crowded wine scene, saying competition “is never a reason not to engage. I believe in word of mouth, classy marketing and letting things speak for themselves. The same for film goes for wine. At the end of the day, you just want it to be good.”  Her focus will remain on wines that appeal to her, personally – “I don’t like acidic wine, it gives me heartburn,” she says – and wines that span the globe. 

“That is the great thing about wine: it is a journey,” she says.  “I love Spanish and Argentinean and French wines. I love rosé and I also appreciate West Coast wines from Washington to Oregon to California. So basically it is about finding something that I love so much that I am proud to put it out. That’s what happened with my pinot grigio, and I think slow and steady wins the race.”

For more information on Barrymore Wines and local retail outlets, go to www.barrymorewines.com.

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