Barrymore Pinot Grigio: A Wine with Star Power

Actress creates approachable, affordable, fruity wine with Jackson Family Wines

Jai Williams

Barrymore incorperates her free spirit into her pinot grigio.

Authenticity in people, and in wine, is a rare quality. It elevates character and requires a sincere dedication to quality. Drew Barrymore is authentic and her new wine, Barrymore Pinot Grigio, which she created in partnership with Carmel Road, reflects her free spirit and vivacious personality — it’s elegant, kissed with fruit, and enjoyable to drink.

The Barrymore Brand

A brand is more than just a logo or label; it’s a trust mark that tells people who you are and what you stand for. Barrymore Pinot Grigio is different because it’s not a celebrity vanity label; it’s a wine that stays true to Drew’s values and lifestyle, and it does so with charm and a sense of fun.

For Drew, “Wine is a luxury never to be taken for granted… but it should still be easy drinking and approachable.” When she first formed a relationship with Jackson Family Wines, she wanted to create the kind of wine she likes to drink; or, as she says, a wine that “is perfect for sharing and making memories around the table.”

Tight bonds with friends and family are the center of Drew’s life, and she brings this familial devotion to her wine bottle’s design, too. The stylish label pays homage to her grandfather’s family crest by incorporating the same font into the “B” of Barrymore. The result is a label that’s a little bit retro and yet still fresh and modern.

Stylishly Affordable

For years, Drew’s white wine of choice, especially when she’s relaxing at home or with her close-knit group of girlfriends, has been pinot grigio. She gravitates to crisp, fruity pinot grigio from the Tre Venezie area of Italy, and as a food lover (she’s a huge fan of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and sushi and suggests paring them with her pinot grigio), insists that her wine be food-friendly and affordable; she “doesn’t want to price people out of the market.”

Jai Williams

Uncompromising Quality

As an international movie star, Drew Barrymore’s name has reach, and she could have easily licensed her name and left the winemaking process entirely up to someone else — but that’s just not her style. This was a labor of love for Drew, and sheer profit was never her primary motive.

She had to be proud to lend her name to the wine, which is why she chose to partner with Jackson Family Wines and Kris Kato, the longtime winemaker at Carmel Road.  Their single-minded dedication to quality wine that’s terroir-driven and sustainably produced matched Drew’s personal and professional ethos. 

The Collaboration

Before she reached out to Jackson Family Wines and Kris Kato, Drew made forays into winemaking in Italy. Her past experiences with wine taught her that marketability, availability, and a strong organization are just as important for the brand’s success as the quality of the wine.

Call it kismet, compatible work ethics, or similar palates, but there was an instant rapport between Drew and Kris, and their shared vision made the process entertaining and rewarding. Drew was a fully participating member of the winemaking team and worked closely with Kris to identify and develop their target style, choose the grapes, and select the right vineyard for her signature wine. Over about six months, they held multiple tasting and blending sessions. No matter where she was or what she was doing, Drew would find a way to attend the sessions with Kris, which were sometimes hastily put together in Hollywood hotel rooms or surreptitiously conducted on private planes while Drew traveled to and from movie locations.

It didn’t take long before the two of them realized they had a delicious wine that suited Drew’s palate, met their style targets, and complemented the Carmel Road family of wines. You can almost taste their enthusiasm, positive energy, and creativity in the wine.Call it kismet, compatible work ethics, or similar palates, but there was an instant rapport between Drew and Kris, and their shared vision made the process entertaining and rewarding.

The Region

There are those who believe that the cool climate and unique geology and terroir in Monterey, especially in the Arroyo Seco, Santa Lucia Highlands, and Salinas Valley sub regions, promises to produce wines that will surpass Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley as California’s premier wine regions. It was this promise of greatness that compelled Jess Jackson and other Monterey pioneers to plant grapes back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Monterey’s mosaic of maritime influences from the Pacific Ocean, its daily fog, windy hillside vineyards, well-drained soils, and cooler temperatures all contribute to the wine’s complexity and its ability to speak of place.

The Wine

Carmel Road specializes in producing cool climate chardonnay, riesling, and pinot noir, so producing a cool climate pinot grigio was in line with their family of wines.  As in Alto Adige, in Italy, pinot grigio’s minerality, extracted fruit, and aromatics are best expressed in colder climes where there are long days of sunshine, and even longer growing seasons, making Monterey a natural choice.

Rather than rely solely on pinot grigio for the new white wine, Kris Kato created a blend of 90 percent pinot grigio, 8% chardonnay, and a small amount of riesling to create a balanced wine that’s perfect for casual entertaining.

Fermented in stainless steel to preserve the freshness of the fruit, this is pinot grigio with an Italian accent by way of Monterey. The pale golden hue has an almost silver lining that offers aromas of Asian pear, fig, and hints of Meyer lemon. Crisp honeydew fruit is balanced by minerality and an undulating spine of acidity. It will keep you coming back sip after sip.

The pinot grigio is a joy to drink, and here is why it’s at the top of my list of favorite new wines: the fruit to acidity ratio and the alcohol levels are on target, it’s terrific with all kinds of food, and it’s affordable.

Coming in the near future is a Barrymore Pinot Noir called Drew’s Blend, so stay tuned. Hmmm. Wonder if a rosé might be in the works? We’ll keep you updated.

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