As mothers to young children, actress Cameron Diaz (who with musician Benji Madden has a six-month-old daughter Raddix) and entrepreneur Katherine Power (mother to an almost-three-year-old son) bonded over the need for regular wine breaks. “Katherine and I formed an instant bond after being introduced, connecting over our shared passion for wellness and wine,” Diaz tells DuJour exclusively. “When we would get together, the first topic of conversation was always about what wine we were drinking…it was inevitable that we would one day take a step back and start to think about what was really in the wines we knew and loved.”
That day came two years ago when the duo began learning about winemaking and the ingredients therein. “As focused as we were on wellness and ensuring we knew the contents of everything that went in our bodies, we realized how much there was to learn about wine,” says Power. “Once we gained some perspective on what was really going into wine, we completely changed the way we drank, and we wanted to share this insight with as many consumers as possible.”
To that end, clean wine label Avaline was born. The brand’s two wines, a white and a rosé, are made with organic grapes and are vegan-friendly, free of unnecessary extras and totally transparent around what’s in the bottle. “Especially as new mothers, we know how busy life can be, so we created Avaline with the goal of making clean wine so widely available that you don’t have to think twice about making a more informed choice,” explains Power. Its health-conscious founders learned about organic grapes and the farming process to create a cleaner wine without so many additives. “We learned that not all wine is vegan, and it was important for us to create a vegan-friendly brand,” says Diaz, who’s written books about health, diet, and wellness (see 2016’s The Longevity Book).
Below, we chat with Diaz and Power about their new venture.
How did you identify which partners to work with?
Power: Finding the right partner started with finding someone who already knew how to make wine that met our criteria: organic grapes, vegan-friendly and using as few additives as possible. From there it came down to the taste profile of the wine and the ability for the winemaker to grow with us.
What was your biggest takeaway from the process?
Power: It has been like learning a foreign language. It is a very interesting, old-fashioned industry with lots of rules and regulations around how the wine is sold, but very little regulation around how it’s made or what information is disclosed to the consumer. That’s why transparency is such an important foundation of our brand.
Diaz: It was incredible hearing the stories of these winemakers that had been farming for multiple generations and the care that they have for their land. In most cases, our growers are harvesting by hand and planting for biodiversity.
What kind of a learning curve was there with this project?
Diaz: Right from the beginning, we made it a point to surround ourselves with as many different industry professionals as we could, from farming to winemaking to distribution and retail.
Was it a hard industry to break into?
Diaz: No matter who you are, the wine and spirits business is tough—we didn’t get any special treatment with the strict laws and regulations. We did our research, learned from experts, figured out how to create a wine we wanted to drink and navigated the very tricky business of bringing it to market.
Are there a lot of women in this industry?
Power: While there are some exemplary women in the wine industry, we certainly hope female leadership becomes more prevalent here. To date, it’s largely an industry run by men, which we saw as an opportunity, not a barrier. We know how to make products that modern women crave, and hope our involvement contributes to more female-led brands.
How has going into business changed your friendship?
Power: The key to a successful partnership is sharing an overall vision while possessing very different (and complementary) skill sets. Cameron and I see eye to eye because at the end of the day we’re aligned on our mission to champion this new standard in the wine industry.
Diaz: It has been fun to collaborate with my friend. The process of creating Avaline was as much a creative endeavor as it was a business venture. I don’t know if there was ever a time that it felt like we were doing this for any other purpose but to create a beautiful, delicious wine that we could share with a like-minded community. There is something very gratifying about that. Approaching it with a spirit of ease and fun and doing so with your friend. I think you can really feel it in the end product.
What kind of a wine drinker are you?
Diaz: Wine is ALWAYS present and seems to be an essential human need. I have a few vintages in my cellar that I am waiting to enjoy until they have reached their optimum. That being said, when I’m looking for a glass of wine to share with friends while hanging out on the porch or having a low-key dinner, I want something easy to drink that tastes delicious that I know is made with organic grapes using the least amount of ingredients possible. We created Avaline for those moments.
What varietals and regions of wine do you tend to gravitate towards?
Power: At this point, rosé is synonymous with summer, but as someone who lives in warm Southern California it’s become a year-round staple.
Diaz: I don’t think there’s anything more refreshing than an ice-cold, dry, crisp, light white wine splashing into your glass on a hot summer day. It’s equally as satisfying to have the perfect, buoyant, crushy, fresh rosé to sip while sitting in the shade on a hot summer day.