Maybe we were a little overzealous. Rosé is never going away. (Prayer hands.) But, if RAMONA wines founder, Jordan Salcito, has a say in the drinking game (which, based on her career experience, she does) you're going to fall head over heels for her canned (yep) lightly sparkling organic Sicilian wine blended with natural ruby grapefruit. Salcito is a Master Sommelier candidate. She was sommelier and manager at Eleven Madison Park and Momofuku, the latter of which earned several awards and three James Beard semi-finalist nominations.
While the wine world can feel a bit snobby, RAMONA is wine, but cooler. So we say sign us up. We caught up with the founder below to chat beverages, bubbles, and what cross-country running has to do with it all.
You’ve been a part of the sommelier world— when you said you wanted to package RAMONA in a cute, poppy, branded aluminum can… what was the feedback?
For me, the most important aspect of RAMONA has always been trying our best to create a delicious product with the same quality and value system as the great wines of the world I seek out, drink, have helped produce and have long admired. I've had the opportunity to work at some incredible restaurants - from Eleven Madison Park to Momofuku, as well as at some incredible wineries - and those experiences have underscored for me that style is always second to substance.
The sommelier community has been incredibly supportive! One of my favorite moments at the Aspen Food & Wine festival recently were several Master Sommelier friends drinking RAMONA throughout the weekend. More recently, dear friend and James Beard Award Winner / winemaker Rajat Parr has become a RAMONA fan too. He's posted about it a on Instagram -- the ultimate compliment.
You knew a lot about wine, but how much did you understand about the manufacturing process before launch? And what was the first call you made to get going?
Luckily thanks to Bellus (www.belluswines.com) as well as experience working harvests in Burgundy, Tuscany, Sicily, Patagonia and California, I knew something about wine production. That said, RAMONA is very different from Bellus or any of the more traditional wines I've had the opportunity to work with. Canned wine is an extremely new market and so many things - like finding the right canning partner, sourcing cans, testing the recipe were just much different than anything I'd done previously.
My first call was to a brilliant friend, Charles Bieler, who makes wine and has long pushed boundaries with packaging.
Blogger Bethany Marie imbibes.
Who is the last person you talked to who gave you great business advice?
Christina Tosi, Christina White, my friend Bill, and Rajat Parr.
You have a background in wine, but what else prepared you for this journey?
Running Cross Country in college (and subsequently the NYC Marathons a few years after that) have been invaluable exercises in preparing for any journey and sticking with it during difficult moments!
We talk a lot about mentorship at C&C, do you have a mentor or someone you turn to for biz advice?
I'm very fortunate to have an amazing team of partners and advisers at RAMONA who are very generous with their insight. In addition, my husband, Robert, is the ultimate sounding board.
What has been your biggest learning curve?
Wearing so many hats at the same time. I constantly wish the day held more than 24 hours.
You’re launching national distribution this summer! Which, is exciting and amazing. How did you figure out how to negotiate what that looks like?
We chose markets and distribution partners that we know and believe in. We launched in New York, our biggest market, but Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Colorado have been incredible partners as well.
Where do you see the company in five years?
I hope we are able to continue to empower people to drink what they like and keep open minds and fresh senses of curiosity about wine!