Drew Barrymore has been a model for sisterhood, for empowering women, for picking oneself back up again no matter how bad the situation, for trying again and sometimes again. She’s an actress, producer, writer, owner of a makeup line, winemaker, mom, and proof overachieving never reaches any limit. I had planned to interview Drew to celebrate the release of her new Barrymore Wines Rosé at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival when I received a startling headline alert in our editorial chatroom the day before my scheduled interview: “Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman Are Divorcing.” My stomach dropped. What could I possibly say to her after such a devastating announcement? As someone who works for a company that’s extremely supportive of women and whose founder’s mantra is, “Work hard; be nice,” I decided it could really be that simple.
I walked into the Carmel Tasting Room and met Drew’s gaze. The first words out of her mouth were, “POPSUGAR? You look like POPSUGAR.” She grinned, and the tension I felt melted away. I first noticed Drew’s style had an endearing “f*ck it” quality to it. She donned striped socks underneath chunky sandal heels. She explained, “The thing is, the sock and the shoe have to be in love, and they’re not always in love. Sometimes it’s square peg, round hole.” Her hair had a messy waviness like it had been windswept at a beach all day. Her eyebrows were grown out. “I don’t feel like tweezing right now. I need to go back to my ’80s roots. The time right now is natural. Natural base color. Natural brows. Natural face. Not being on the treadmill of fear of aging. It is what it is,” Drew announced confidently. “And I’m wanting to bring the anklet back.” She was gritty and real.
We sat at a window seat filled with bright blue pillows, the sun beaming down on us. She had a glass of Rosé in her hand and signaled for someone to bring me one too. We clinked glasses, and it was almost like two friends spending a lazy Saturday together. That’s the second thing I noticed; Drew is sweet and sincere. She was quick to hold my glass as I fumbled with my phone to start the recorder. I asked for her tasting notes.
“It’s creamy. Peach and apricot. Grapefruit-forward. Without any sweetness. Enough citrus to keep it crisp. No stinging lemony aspect that can come into an acidic wine.” And sure enough, with each sip, those qualities bloomed on my palate. It was a lovely, easy-to-drink (almost too easy!) Rosé.
Upon saying that, Drew quickly cleared up, “I like easy-drinking wines. What I don’t like is when easy-drinking wines are written off as [having] lack of complexity or made without TLC.” This is no wine-label-slapping venture for Drew. She informed me she’s involved in every step of the wine-making process with Kris Kato, Carmel Road’s winemaker. In three years, the team has produced three wines, including a Pinot Grigio (the first from her label) and a Carmel Road Drew’s Blend Pinot Noir.
Drew gushed, “[Drew’s Blend] scored 91 [on Wine Spectator], which is such a relief, because, you know, I’m not an oenophile. I’m a new winemaker, producer, and an enthusiast. I’m really excited to make a red for the Barrymore label.” The third thing I noticed about Drew is her rich vocabulary, ie throwing around words like “oenophile.” She busted out lexicon I haven’t heard since my SAT days, but it’s not in a snobby way. Rather, in doing so she expresses her love of language and has an impressive knack for using the exact, appropriate word at the right time.
But back to the wine! Good wine is only half the equation. It becomes great with food. Drew’s favorite pairing is chilled Pinot Noir or Rosé with sushi, “because it’s so light and clean.” Though a multitalented person, a homecook for herself she is not. “I only cook for the kids. They get three-course meals, and I order PostMates. Usually Chinese food delivery at night or Mexican. Asian or Mexican food via anywhere who will throw it at me. Literally, guy on bike tossing up to window,” she answered truthfully.
It reminded me of a chapter in her latest memoir, Wildflower, when she talks about surviving off of takeout while living in her first apartment by herself at the age of 14. I loved the book and suddenly felt compelled to tell Drew my favorite line from it. “Would you like to know it?” I asked sheepishly. Drew inched in closer. Her eyes brightened. “It’s in the chapter about your daughter, you say, ‘She needs me for my strength, not my worry.’ That line brought me to tears.” Drew listened intently and shared an Instagram comment she had read (one of few) that really struck her: “I strangely came across a comment of a woman who said, ‘I am a mother. I’m sitting in a Paris cafe, because I came to be with my daughter after the attacks. She goes to school here. I’m in a cafe reading Wildflower. I just came across the sentence ‘Right now, you need my strength, not my worry.’ In that moment, you’ve made me feel OK about coming here. Because I had questioned, ‘Am I in her face? Am I annoying her?’ Not only do I now realize I do need to be here, but what I need to show her is my lightness and my strength. Thank you.'”
Drew is a storyteller, and there’s a reoccurring theme present: women finding their power. In few, choice words, she has the ability to draw you in, to take your breath away, to offer hope amidst darkness. Even though she shares her personal journey, the simultaneous resiliance and vulnerability are universal and so relatable. She continued, “In a world where everyone’s telling each other everything, I thought, ‘Thank you, universe, for bringing me to that one comment that one time.’ It’s pretty humbling to be of relevancy to her in that moment. And it was the sentence you just said, and that is why I told you that story. Now, I have two for that sentence!”
And then, she mentions her daughter, “That’s how my daughter is. She doesn’t want the worry. She needs to know it’s going to be OK. It’s the only way she will allow herself to be vulnerable. . . . She’s mad when something hurts her. She doesn’t go to a weak place. Every little girl can only be made to feel safe if they know the parent is solid.” Her eyes begin to water, causing mine to swell. We sit in silence for a moment, before I ask, “You’ve taken on so many big, scary things, and yet, you’ve come away more powerful and stronger than ever. What is the secret to that? What does it take?”
Her eyes sort of glazed over before she slowly and carefully responded, “I had a really hard time a couple of months ago and kind of knew life was heading in a new direction. I called someone that I really trust, respect, and believe in, because he has always been the conductor of grace. I said, ‘What’s your advice?’ And he said, ‘You put one foot in front of the other.’ I hung up the phone and I thought, ‘That is why I call this person.’ It’s not only succinct, but it’s almost physically productive and life-choice productive. It’s just great advice. It’s a kind of way in which to live, and I want to be like him. I want to be like that. I want to put one foot in front of the other.”
Having read her book, I wonder to myself whether she’s talking about Steven Spielberg, a close friend and mentor to Drew, and if she’s referring to her recent separation. And then, I brush both of those thoughts aside. Because as the story stands, what matters is it’s universal. It’s bigger than the recent events going on in Drew’s life. Through her own life experiences (without hashing out the details), she neatly offers up a lesson we could all benefit from. We all go through tough times, and we all need to reach out to someone to offer us something as encouraging and graceful as taking one step at a time.
We hug. The last thing I notice about Drew is she’s inclusive. She gathers her assistants, makeup artist, the winemaker, the other various people hanging out in the tasting room. She then invites me into the circle to send a video song for her daughters, Olive and Frankie. It’s to the tune of “Frère Jacques.” A bunch of adults sing enthusiastically out of tune. We whoop and holler, smile, and wave at the camera. Drew’s singing the loudest. My last question for her is how she’d like to be remembered. It catches her off guard, “Oh sh*t! That’s such a posthumous question.” Then she settles into it and says, “The only thing I care about, my life’s mission and the only thing that matters as of now is that my daughters know what our lives were like, how we lived, and how much I love them. For them to know that they were not just loved, but, like, ridiculously, utterly, life-alteringly loved. That’s the only reason I’m here now!”