The concept of “clean wine” is somewhat controversial in the drinks industry, to say the least—many consider it to be an oversimplification of the existing centuries-old natural wine business, while some argue that the marketing buzzword and its implications inherently denigrate the winemaking community for not listing ingredients on labels (a practice that’s not required for several reasons, which you can read about here). All of this aside, there’s a ton of potential for wine brands to tap into the general wellness market, where consumers don’t necessarily share the concerns of those deeply invested in the wine industry and are ready to spend on what could otherwise be considered an “indulgence.” Regardless of how one might feel about clean wine, it certainly has an audience, and now Julianne Hough and Nina Dobrev are at the forefront of the conversation after the launch of their new joint venture, Fresh Vine Wine. Here’s everything you need to know, according to Dobrev and Hough themselves:
What inspired you to get into the wine biz?
Nina Dobrev: Julianne and I both have similar work schedules and at the end of the day, we love unwinding with a glass of wine. We would always like one thing or another about the different wines we tasted, and had a pipe dream of co-owning our own company where we could create our own unique wine that reflected who we were and the lifestyles we shared. We wanted a wine that would be bold, healthy, and provide a guilt-free experience. Then, one day, we decided to make it a reality! We’re very proud of what Fresh Vine Wine has to offer and can’t wait for everyone to try it.
How did you settle on Napa as your production region for Fresh Vine Wine?
Julianne Hough: We both reside in California and some of our first experiences and trips to really discover wine and the artistry behind it [were] in Napa. The climate, the type of grapes, and what we wanted to create with our Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Pinot was just really specific to wanting it to feel local enough for us to be able to pop up there and experience it. This is where we live, this is our home, so we really want to embrace California wine and that California lifestyle. Especially living in Los Angeles, there is this energy of staying healthy and active and being able to incorporate and focus on that while also creating a premium wine. We really wanted to take the sophistication and roots of the beautiful winemaking from Napa and incorporate that into our everyday life.
Can you speak a bit about the concept of maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle while still being able to enjoy a glass or two of wine?
JH: I think it’s an important thing for us all—and I think we’ve really felt it over this past year especially—to find a balance of your emotional, physical, mental, and energetic well-being. And whatever that looks like for you might not look that way for someone else, so it really is individual, and you need to listen to your body in order to find out what works for you. For me, I really, really, really enjoy waking up and meditating, doing breathwork and working out, whether it’s doing KINRGY or going for a run. I also really enjoy hanging out with my friends over a glass of wine and feeling like I’m doing my part in making the environment a cleaner place as well as what I’m putting into my body. Being able to find and work with a winemaker that had those same values was really important so that we could stay integral with our lifestyle while also finding that balance of the joys in life along with the discipline to stay clean and clear and focused. I think it’s just about balance—you can’t have light without shade and you know, the color is in between. The color is your expression, and so this is our form of expressing ourselves in an artistic and fun, joyful [way] through friendship and connection.
What would you pair your Cabernet Sauvignon with and why? And your Chardonnay?
JH: You know, our Cabernet is really beautiful, full-bodied, and just rich in fruit, and so to be able to pair it with something like a delicious steak or green vegetables… just something that really is able to find that juxtaposition of feeling something quite spicy with something fruity. I think [it’s] a really beautiful mixture.
Before you launched Fresh Vine Wine, what were of your go-to wines and why?
ND: I loved wines that were both bold and smooth. But to be honest, I had a really hard time drinking wine because … they would be filled with sugar and other additives that would make me super hungover. That’s why I wanted to create something I could enjoy and actually consume without feeling guilty or have harmful consequences! That’s what Fresh Vine Wine is for me.
Do you have any favorite wine glasses? If so, what are they?
JH: I will say, I am definitely someone who likes a stem that’s very thin. There’s something about a very, very thin glass with a beautiful stem that makes me really feel the experience of drinking a glass of wine. Every once in a while I’ll drink one out of a glass that’s kind of round with no stem, but that’s more if I’m just hanging by the fire with my girlfriends. For me, there’s nothing quite like having that crisp, clean, very thin glass while you’re drinking your wine with a beautiful stem.
Any must-have accessories you can recommend for the at-home wine drinker?
JH: I mean, I love a decanter—I also just think it’s beautiful and elegant when you have a decanter, [especially] in the way that your place settings are displayed. I’m such a creature of wanting to create a beautiful environment and have the full experience. Whether it’s a charcuterie board with fruits and wine or cheeses or meats, just experiencing that is one of my favorite things.
What are some of your favorite wine cocktails?
ND: White wine spritzers are my go-tos for the summer. They’re refreshing and light. In the winter, I love a mulled wine to warm up after getting off the slopes, or to enjoy over the Christmas holidays!