Cameron Diaz on why she co-founded a clean wine brand despite not being 'an endorser'

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The wine business has attracted big celebrity names lately, with Nina Dobrev and Julianne Hough launching Fresh Vine Wine just last week. They join Snoop Dogg, who has his own red blend and rosé with the 19 Crimes label, as well as the rapper Post Malone, who created a French rosé Maison No. 9.

Last summer, actress Cameron Diaz and entrepreneur Katherine Power launched Avaline, billed as a clean wine label made with organic grapes and free of additives like powdered tannins that help with fermentation and fining agents that remove unwanted flavors.

But Diaz, unlike her celebrity counterparts, is no longer a working entertainer; Avaline is a primary focus, not a side gig. Her final acting role was as Miss Hannigan in the 2014 film adaptation of "Annie," and she confirmed her retirement from the film industry in March 2018.

The same year, she and Power started ideating on launching a wine label, marking Diaz's first business venture.

"I'm not an endorser. You can kind of look at my brand over the last 25 years. And there's no way you can say that I've, you know, gotten behind another brand. I always promote my products, which are my movies, you know, so I'm not really an endorser," she said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Presents.

So why did she decide to get into the wine business now? "It felt right for me to be putting my name and energy behind a product that I was co founding with Katherine," she said. "It was ours, we built it from the ground up."

'A cleaner product'

Despite the narrative that Americans were drinking heavily during the coronavirus pandemic, data from Silicon Valley Bank's 2021 report on the wine industry indicates overall alcohol consumption in 2020 was remarkably similar to 2019. The world of wine, in particular, has faced waning interest in recent years. In 2019, wine consumption in the U.S. dropped for the first time in 25 years, according to IWSR, which provides data on the global alcohol market. Alternatives like hard seltzer and boozy tea have established significant market share as people drink less wine.

Avaline has quickly established itself as a brand to beat despite the challenging environment. Power and Diaz sold over 120,000 bottles of wine in the first 60 days. Starting with white and rosé wines, they now offer red and sparkling wines as well, ranging from $20 to $25 per bottle. Avaline White was a top 10 best-selling white blend in the ultra-premium category through the four week period ending Aug. 8, 2020, according to Nielsen.

Cameron Diaz speaks to Yahoo Finance.
Cameron Diaz speaks to Yahoo Finance.

"[The numbers have] exceeded every expectation that we had, from the forecasting perspective to where we rank on Nielsen and sales. We were just happy that we could provide a cleaner product that people could consume if they were going to increase their drinking," said Power, who serves as the CEO of fashion empire Who What Wear and beauty brands Versed and Merit.

Starting as consumers of clean wines, Diaz and Power recognized Avaline wouldn't be unique — it was just making a more niche product accessible to any wine drinker, beyond those who frequent speciality stores. And while they're putting their names behind the brand, they also want to build a product that transcends their celebrity.

"We always knew that Avaline was going to be a standalone product in the end. Yes, Katherine and I have large platforms. We have a lot of, you know, energy behind us. And we have skill sets that we have to offer this, this brand and this product," Diaz said. "But we know that eventually our goal is for Avaline to stand on its own."

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm and on LinkedIn.

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