Drew Barrymore: “A day without pasta, bread and wine is just unimaginable!”
By Frank Rousseau, our correspondant in Los Angeles, posted on 09 May 2023
Since she first appeared on the big screen in ‘E.T.’ by Steven Spielberg – she was just seven at the time – Drew Barrymore has played multiple roles in her life. But there is one that she takes very seriously and that is as winemaker…
What drew you to making wine?
Just an opportunity I was given. Chris Miller, my partner in my film company, knew a family of winegrowers in Italy. Every time I would go to Italy, I would do a detour via their place because I loved their wines so much! I learnt a lot of things from being around these amazing people. I wanted to start making wine myself, but in California because I couldn’t see myself going backwards and forwards all the time to Italy. In 2010, I partnered with the Carmel Road brand, owned by Jackson Family Wines. They were the ones I launched ‘Drew’s Blend’ with. Our vines are in Monterrey County, along California’s Central Coast.
What is your favourite part of the winemaking process?
When Kris Kato [the winemaker at Carmel Road] and I got together, we immediately realised that we had the same palate for wine and the same palate for food. Basically, we spoke the same tongue! Every stage interested me because they are all crucial!
Apparently, for your Pinot noir you did a really professional job…
Thank-you! Yes, I wanted us to make a wine in the same vein as Pinot nero in Italy and Beaujolais in France, even though Beaujolais is made from Gamay. These are light, fruity wines with beautifully balanced acidity, yet they don’t lack softness. What I absolutely didn’t want was a wine that gave people migraines the next day! Basically, I also wanted notes of spices, tobacco and cherry. So I did tons of experiments to find the ideal proportions. Our rosé has flavours of peach and lemon with apricot undertones and it displays a wonderful colour.
Do you consider yourself to be a wine expert?
I’m not a winemaker and I don’t pretend to be one. I started out with a passion and I didn’t shy away from having to learn everything about the wine world. I am sure that some people thought to themselves – “Here we go, another actress dabbling in winemaking!” When I start a business, it doesn’t matter what it is, I never do anything by half measures. I invest a lot of time and effort into it, because I invest a lot! (laughs). Making wine gives me huge pleasure. To this day, I can assure you that it’s the most fascinating and most demanding job I have ever done!
Do you come from a family that truly valued wine?
Absolutely not! My father, the actor John Drew Barrymore, had more of a soft spot for Tequila. I experienced my first sensations with wine when I opened some good bottles with my female friends. It was nearly always Pinot grigio. That’s why the first wine I worked on, in Italy then in California, was a Pinot! Then I took an interest in rosés because they are fresh and easy-drinking. When I was around 30, I discovered red wine – it was a true revelation! That was when I wanted to find out more about harvesting, bottling etc. My tastes then changed as I got older. I loved Chianti, then I discovered Malbec, a wine that is all the rage in Argentina. Now I’m obsessed with Beaujolais and the Saint-Emilion region.
You have worked on the contents but also the containers for your wines…
Yes! Especially on the label. I felt that my grand-father’s coat-of-arms [Ed. the legendary actor John Barrymore] looked really good so I asked a renowned artist to re-design it a little. Pinot grigio often attracts more women than men so I wanted to offset that a little with a more masculine label. Basically, I didn’t want men to brush the wine aside on the grounds that it is usually enjoyed more by ladies!
To what extent are you an Epicurean?
I have a principle in life. It’s important to treat yourself. Spending a day without pasta, bread and wine is just unimaginable! It’s like asking a fish to swim without water! I like wine served at the right temperature, which is room temperature. When I drink a glass of wine, I ensure that I have all the conditions needed to savour it. You don’t drink a glass of wine like you would a glass of water! Usually, I take one of the decanters I have managed to find in antique shops. I love their shape. I pour the wine into them delicately, religiously, as if it were the most precious nectar. I do it in the light so that I can see the suspended particles form deposits. Then I love putting my nose in the decanter! It’s something that carries you away to a different place. Sometimes somewhere very far away. Especially when it’s a wine from home!
Drew Barrymore with Frank Rousseau.
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