Despite what many consumers and wine enthusiasts believe, wine producers aren’t bound legally to disclose everything that goes into their bottles. Avaline, a pioneering new wine brand from Cameron Diaz and Katherine Power, challenges that industry norm.
For the past several years, people have been paying more attention to what they put in their bodies. That behavioral shift includes alcohol. A significant portion of the population wants to drink cleaner. Several studies have shown that today’s restaurant and bar guest is willing to pay more to drink better, and not just because a product has been labeled “premium,” “super-premium,” or “ultra-premium.”
When it comes to wine, the health- and trend-conscious have been drawn to biodynamic, organic and natural wines. Some wine bars popped up that specialized in those wine categories. The guests who sought out such wines have doubtlessly felt confident that they’ve made a much healthier choice. However, not every label is backed by a certification, not all such wines are vegan, and sulfites can be used in their production.
Diaz and Power are interested in redefining not just the wine drinking experience but the labeling on the bottle. I pulled a few bottles of wine from my small collection to review the labels. The producer, bottler, varietal, appellation, vintage, volume and ABV are all listed. Each label warns the consumer that the wine contains sulfites, along with government warnings about the consumption of alcohol.
That’s it—nothing else. None of the bottles tell me what has been used to manipulate the contents inside. Winemakers are permitted to use around 70 adjuncts to enhance flavors, aromas, and colors; “correct” liquid made with grapes that aren’t of the best quality; and make bottles more shelf stable, to name but a few uses.
And no labeling requirement exists to let consumers know what exactly they’re pouring into their bodies. There are several reasons winemakers use to justify the lack of information on their labels, and they aren’t necessarily nefarious. For instance, some of the adjuncts have names that sound “scary” but occur in nature. There’s also the reasoning that such labels take the “romance” out of wine production and consumption.
Diaz and Power bonded over their shared dedication to health and wellness. Committing to knowing what they were putting into their bodies informed their mutual desire for transparent labeling when entering the wine world. Learning about what can be added to wines was an eye opener for both Diaz and Power.
“I enjoyed wine for many-a-year and never questioned it. Not once. I actually figured it was the most responsible alcohol choice because it was made with fermented grapes,” says Diaz. “But I had no idea of the process. One of the first conversations Katherine and I had about making a clean wine was, ‘What are we going to add to it?’ We soon learned it wasn’t what you added, it’s what you didn’t add.”
Diving deeper into the process inspired Diaz and Power to seek out organic-certified vineyards that utilized low irrigation or none at all. And they certainly wanted to avoid as many additives as possible.
“One of our main goals is to increase the prevalence of clean wine in the market, making it available where our consumer is already shopping,” says Power.
Looking at Avaline bottles, their labels don’t seem to be lacking in romance. They strike a balance between attractive and informative that other producers can look to as an example. At launch, the two expressions—Avaline White and Avaline Rosé—aren’t obnoxious regarding the amount of information provided.
Both are made with organic grapes, so the label makes that detail clear. Both are free of added concentrates, added sugars and added colors, and those details are listed on the label. Unlike some wines made with organic grapes, both are vegan friendly, a fact communicated directly on the bottles. That last detail makes it easy for servers, bartenders and wine stewards to confidently answer that question—they can present the bottle and show their guests the label.
Those who want even more information about what’s in their bottles of Avaline can find it on the brand’s website easily. If someone’s curious about the grapes used to produce Avaline White, they’re proudly listed online: Xarello, Macabe and Malvasía from Spain. Avaline Rosé consists of a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Caladoc, Syrah and Cab Sauv from France. Scrolling down on the White and Rosé pages yields nutritional information, including total carbs and the amount of sulfites in a five-ounce serving.
In the future, Avaline could easily include the blend and nutritional information on a rear label. Such a move would further the creation and adoption of a “clean wine” category, replete with labeling standard and possible certification. As it stands today, Avaline is a leap forward in consumer-facing wine production transparency.
For more information, please visit the Avaline website.
Neither the author nor Hospitality Villains received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Avaline or any other entity in exchange for this post.
I’ve been studying and writing about the hospitality industry since 2006. Like so many people, I started my journey in this business by working as a host, server and bartender. I was introduced to nightlife in Chicago, learning the ins and outs of nightclubs and after-hours hot spots.
After moving to Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago, I both co-owned a valet company and helped promote the club it serviced. That led to me taking on the role of editor for a Las Vegas hospitality industry publication.
A few short years later, I continued along my journey of hospitality industry reporting. I went from contributing to a major industry outlet to taking on the role of editor and content curator.