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If you’ve been wondering where Cameron Diaz has been lately, the likely answer is on her porch, listening to jazz and drinking rosé. Its an apt image for a new retiree, which is essentially what Diaz has been since she nonchalantly announced her “retirement” from acting in a 2018 interview with her The Sweetest Thing co-stars Christina Applegate and Selma Blair (Diaz cited “retirement” as a reason why the rom-com likely wouldn’t get a sequel).
Still, though the actress hasn’t appeared in a major role since 2014’s Annie, Diaz hasn’t exactly been hiding out at home, despite what internet conspiracy theorists and your Ellen-watching Aunt Mabel may be telling you. In 2016, Diaz released The Longevity Book, a follow-up to her Number One New York Times bestseller, The Body Book. Then, last December, the 47-year-old announced that she and husband Benji Madden had welcomed a newborn daughter, named Raddix. This month, Diaz delivers her latest labor of love, with the launch of a new “clean wine” brand called Avaline.
Developed with her friend and Who What Wear co-founder Katherine Power, Diaz says Avaline is all about bringing a “new standard of transparency” to the wine industry. The company launched this week with a light, crisp rosé, and a mineral-driven, dry white blend. Both wines are made from organic grapes, with no added sugars, colors, or concentrates. They are also vegan-friendly and non-GMO.
Diaz and Power first began developing the brand in 2018, fully immersing themselves in every part of the oenological process, from production to bottling. “I enjoyed wine for many a year,” Diaz says, “but I had no idea of the process.”
After settling on a white wine and a rosé (their favorite wines to drink), Diaz and Power sought out winemakers in France and Spain who owned vineyards that could produce these varietals at scale. They also made sure to source grapes grown with low-to-no irrigation in certified-organic vineyards, and without the use of harsh chemicals or pesticides. “One of the first conversations Katherine and I had about making a cleaner wine was, ‘What are we going to add to it?’” Diaz recalls. “We soon learned it wasn’t what you added, it’s what you didn’t add.”
As for the challenges of launching a new company in the middle of a pandemic, the women say they hope it’s a chance, at the very least, to inject some “lightness and positivity” back into our day-to-day lives. “We could never have imagined the world in which we all find ourselves today,” says Power, who’s also the founder of clean beauty brand, Versed Skincare. “But it’s clear to us that, as we navigate the important complexities of 2020, it has become more vital than ever to find joy in small, everyday moments. Avaline,” Power continues, “was created for those very moments.”
Diaz and Power spoke to Rolling Stone about the misconceptions behind a celebrity-driven brand, the expensive vintages they’ve collected over the years, and how being in quarantine — and being a new mom — has helped to shape Diaz’s surprising new musical tastes.
What inspired you to launch Avaline and why did you feel like it was a good time to launch it now?
Diaz: Since Katherine and I started this journey two years ago, we put our heads down and really went to work learning about the winemaking process and the various ways we could get Avaline into our drinkers’ glasses by this summer. Drinking wine is age-old; it can be communal, or something one does to relax and unwind. We made Avaline with the spirit of friendship as well as for the quiet moments that we all take for ourselves. What we’ve all seen and felt during this time is that we all still have the need and instinct to connect and also learn in new ways how to be alone together. We are so happy to be able to contribute to those moments and give our drinkers the peace of mind that they are drinking a wine that holds their values.
What are some memories you have around wine? Cameron, you’re one of the biggest movie stars in the world, so I assume you’ve had your fair share of good wine.
Diaz: Wine is always present no matter what part of the world you are in; wine seems to be an essential human need [laughs]. And I have been really lucky to have traveled the world and to have had the opportunity to drink some of the finest wines. Big, beautiful, very expensive, highly sought-after vintages in some of the most beautiful settings … those are moments I cherish. And I do have a few vintages in my cellar that I am waiting to enjoy when they have reached their optimum, too. But that being said, when I just want to have a glass of wine that I can share with my friends hanging out on the porch or having a low-key dinner, all I want is a wine that tastes delicious, that’s easy to drink, that I know is made with organic grapes and with the least amount of ingredients. We created Avaline for those moments.
Neither of you come from a wine background, yet you both seem pretty hands-on with the business. What did you have to do to immerse yourself in learning about winemaking?
Diaz: It took us down a really fun but challenging path. Anyone who is in the wine-and-spirits business knows how tricky the laws and regulations are. We didn’t get any passes within those laws and regulations just because I’m a “celebrity.” We did our research, we learned from experts, and we figured out how to find the wine we wanted to drink and then navigate the very tricky business of bringing it to market.
Power: The two of us built this brand and its products from the ground up for over a year before we made our first full-time hire. We knocked on doors, met with countless experts, and ultimately took it to where it is today. Avaline is far from a celebrity brand, but rather a product we felt compelled to create for our community and the rest of the world.
But people will inevitably associate the wine with Cameron Diaz.
Diaz: Well, I guess it’s just as easy to slap a label on a “celebrity” as it is for a celebrity to slap a label on a bottle, so I get how people might think that’s what Avaline is. But I’ve never slapped my name on anything. I’ve always done the work. Even though it’s never felt like work to me because I only pursue things that I am passionate about. And in creating Avaline, I don’t think anyone could blame me for wanting to spend time in beautiful organic and biodynamic vineyards touring centuries-old wine caves, state-of-the-art winemaking facilities, [and] learning from passionate winemakers. I can fully admit that being a “celebrity” opened those doors for us. But I did make movies for 20-plus years soooo I guess it’s finally paying off [laughs]. Basically what I’m saying is that Katherine and I started this out of our shared desire for a wine we could feel good about drinking.
Katherine, what’s something that would surprise people about Cameron?
Power: Cameron is an incredibly curious person who makes it her mission in life to learn about as many different things as possible. If you have a question about anything that’s going on in your life, or the world, you can call her and she will have a well-informed point of view on it. She is also incredibly detail-oriented. She does not miss a word or a beat and has incredible high standards — it’s something we both share.
What have the two of you been doing during quarantine?
Power: Honestly, we have bonded over our love for the low-key. We enjoy hanging on Cameron’s porch, or in my backyard, with a couple of other friends, or enjoying a quiet dinner at home with our husbands (who are also friends).
Diaz: In the last seven months I’ve entered the best phase of my life: motherhood! So it’s been all about my home and family. And I am trying to participate in a thoughtful way in the larger and most important conversation that our society is currently engaged in.
Cameron, as a big music fan, what are some albums that you and Benji have been listening to lately?
Diaz: Well, since we have a little one, we are really jamming out to some dope Sesame Street jams. We got “Baby Shark” in the mix, and of course Benj has written at least a dozen songs for her. So we are doing serious upbeat and often a cappella jams over here.
What album or artist would best soundtrack a wine night with Avaline?
Power: We actually named Avaline while listening to Chet Baker, which is a go-to for both of us while enjoying a glass of Avaline in the evenings.
Diaz: I listened to the entire album of Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue the other night. There’s nothing better than that ensemble of musicians. They defined jazz. It moves my soul in every direction.