When it was announced earlier this year that Sarah Jessica Parker was teaming up with New Zealand wine company Invivo to start her own label, the inevitable reaction was heard 'round the Internet: "SJP trades in Cosmos for wine!" But the star's foray into the industry involves a lot more than on-screen sipping with girlfriends. Parker, who in addition to her TV and film accomplishments has also launched successful footwear and fragrance lines, is going all-in on the project: She has signed on as a shareholder with Invivo, and in May, she met up with company co-founders Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron in New York to personally select the blend for her 2019 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which is expected to hit shelves later this summer.
"I've never done anything where I've just put my name on it and walked away. It's just not the way I've conducted my business," says Parker. "If I'm not going to drink it and believe in it, if I'm not going to wear my own shoes, then who am I to ask anyone to drink it or wear my shoes or anything else?"
"She's a total professional," Cameron, Invivo's winemaker, told Wine Spectator during a sneak peek at the blending session. This is the second "celebrity wine" project for Invivo, which in 2014 partnered with BBC talk-show host Graham Norton for his line of wines.
Parker currently stars in the HBO series Divorce, whose third season begins airing July 1. And while she still enjoys a well-made Cosmopolitan, wine has long been her drink of choice. She spoke with assistant editor Lexi Williams about her adventures in the wine biz; her unexpected, late-blossoming love of Sauv Blanc; and the quirky way she learned how to drink wine during her travels around Europe.
Wine Spectator: How did you become a wine lover?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Well, I think probably a variety of opportunities presented themselves. First of all, I think traveling a lot for work and traveling to places that produce really good wine. You know, the more obvious places [in] Europe—Italy and France—but also Greece and Chile and a little bit in Australia. And I think just over time developing an affection for it.
I am not educated to the degree that most people are who have an opportunity like this, so I always preface that by saying [that] things like this opportunity are wonderful, because you get to learn about something that you really love. I have not spent my professional adult life working in the wine industry, but it is wonderful to get to work with people whom I admire, who care a great deal about their business and their trade.
WS: What are your go-to varietals or regions that you really like?
SJP: I'm happy to tell you that I'm not really settled. It depends on what we're eating, and what mood we're in, and the seasons. I always have thought of myself as a Chardonnay drinker, and I think I used to feel like that slightly exposed myself as not a very complex a person. But I've had some incredible Chardonnays, like really beautiful. But I'm not specific to that.
When we travel to Ireland, where we do travel a good bit, we actually tend to drink a lot more Sauvignon Blanc—there are so many New Zealand wines available in Ireland. [This] always surprised me in the beginning, because I always thought of it as a much more kind of "littler" wine, if that makes sense. It felt less round, and I always thought that I preferred kind of a bigger wine. But I've come to love Sauvignon Blanc, which is kind of fortuitous, given this collaboration.
WS: You probably get offered many collaboration opportunities. Why did you decide on wine, and why Invivo in particular?
SJP: Well, to be totally candid, I would not have ever considered a wine collaboration. I didn't think I had any business doing it, didn't know enough. And just because you have affection for something doesn't mean you have any right to think you can be involved in a really complicated business.
I was introduced to the gentlemen from Invivo through a mutual contact and they sent me some of their wine in 2018. It was then that we realized that we had been buying Invivo in Ireland! We actually had been buying a bunch of the Graham Norton wines, which are really, really good. So we started having phone conversations, and at first I thought, "I don't know what I can offer. What are my bona fides?" But they were really persuasive and said that this was something that we can do together and that I would be around people who do this and that it was an opportunity to learn. And I was really excited, you know? It's a growing company; they care an enormous amount about the product.
WS: There's a rumor that you have an affinity for drinking wine not out of a traditional wineglass, but something else. Can you talk about that?
SJP: [laughs] I will drink wine out of a wineglass; I'm not offended by wineglasses. But I started drinking wine more in Europe, where wine often comes to the table in a little carafe, with little, short glasses that are, what, two and a half inches tall? And I loved it. And I think that's what I came to know. There was also something that took the intimidation out of it for me; it felt more familiar, more intimate, more like being at home. So that's the way we drink wine in our house. I save little jars, like jam jars, and we drink wine out of them. Any jar that's, like, three to four inches tall—perfect. It's sustainable, it's environmentally sound. And there's just something nice about the way it feels. It's also affordable! You can also save larger jars and drink water out of them. But ... I have no business telling anybody else how to live.
WS: This isn't the first time you've been the face of a drink. Do you think your involvement in wine will speak to fans the way the Sex and the City characters' love of Cosmopolitans did back during the cocktail's heyday?
SJP: People still drink cocktails; you know, artisanal cocktails are huge in New York. People go to restaurants now because of these talented bartenders, mixologists—what are they called? Bar artists—cocktail artists! So that is there. And I'll still have a Cosmopolitan.
I'm not sure if it's that, you know, generation from that particular time on that show—that wonderful show … It's very possible that those people have grown up, right? Wine is this sort of companion to meals, to gatherings, to milestones, to sad occasions, to happy occasions. It's possible that that generation of drinkers of Cosmopolitans might have moved to wine because their lives changed. People are going more to each other's homes and entertaining and meeting and sharing meals. Having meals over wine creates a little community for the night. That would be my guess. I know that's reflective of my life.