The Wine Hustle Series | Jordan Salcito of RAMONA, The Sicilian Ruby Grapefruit Wine Spritz
I finally feel like I have my wine writing and sipping mojo back after 4 weeks postpartum. While my husband and I are still trying to get into a good ‘baby groove’ (any pointers?), I found a spare moment (like 10 minutes) to share this stellar interview of a true wine #bossbabe living every oenophiles dream. Ladies and gents, meet Jordan Salcito. (See our other wine boss babes featured here).
Long story made really short - Salcito runs sh*t. From her experience at Eleven Madison Park to Beverage Director for David Chang's Restaurants, Jordan is cool AF. Having had the opportunity to work behind some of the most renowned sommeliers and restaurateurs in the industry along with firsthand experience in the most prestigious old world wine regions – Burgundy, Italy, etc. Salcito is combining her elite wine experience and entrepreneurial spirit to shake things up in the industry and create a new and innovative wine spritz called RAMONA, "a wine without rules." RAMONA is an ORGANIC, ALL NATURAL, GLUTEN-FREE & VEGAN Sicilian ruby grapefruit wine spritzer. Oh – and it’s in a CAN! So basically she's putting the COOL in wine! You heard it here first - calling this the SPRTIZ OF SUMMER!
Ok, let’s get to the interview. As always be prepared to be inspired and put a six pack of RAMONA on ice and read by the pool or in a swan floaty! ;)
How did you get your start in wine and what was your initial inspiration?
I worked in restaurants as an after-internship summer job since high school and had always been interested in wine, though my aha moment came when working at the La Paulée with Daniel Johnnes and Daniel Boulud in January, 2006. Daniel Boulud noticed that I was deeply curious about Burgundy and suggested working a harvest at one of the winemaker's estates. That led to my first harvest—in Burgundy, 2006—which led to subsequent harvests in Burgundy, and soon Italy and Patagonia, every year after. Loving wines - and the people and stories behind them - made taking the next step, working as a sommelier, all the more natural and easy. Being part of John Ragan's James Beard Award winning team at Eleven Madison Park was a crash course in wine education and good study habits, and it put me on a path towards the Master Sommelier exam.
I love Sicily, Grapefruit, & Spritzes! So I am dying to know… who is RAMONA and what is her story? How did you come up with HER?
RAMONA is named after my youngest sister's childhood alter ego. She was obsessed with Beverly Clearly and, like Ramona Quimby, always clever and mischievous...and getting into trouble. The name and spirit of 'Ramona' stayed in my memory. When deciding to turn my attention from building fine wine programs and create an organic Sicilian grapefruit wine spritz in a can, I felt like the name needed to represent that slightly rebellious, but still high-integrity spirit.
What is your favorite part of your job?
There are so many rewarding parts that it's hard to pick one. The thing that has always drawn me to wine is its ability to connect so many different people, for so many different reasons. I love seeing that continue to unfold with RAMONA as well as my line of Bellus wines.
What is the best advice anyone’s ever given you? Do you have a “mantra” you stick to?
There are a few quotes I try to keep in mind: "The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." - Thomas Jefferson; and "The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do." - Amelia Earhart
At WINEFARER, we love hearing about the unexpected journeys that stem from wine. Can you share your favorite wine journey with us?
Way too many to count! One from recent memory involves an annual trip with some winemaker friends to Lech, Austria, where we ski by day and drink and discuss wine and friendship and family together by night. Another involves trips to The Phoenix in San Pedro, Belize. Some upcoming adventures on the horizon, thanks to RAMONA, involve Singapore and Australia, two places I've long wanted to visit and have never been.
It seems like you love wine as much as we do, in three words, describe your love affair with wine?
Curiosity, Connection, Countryside (the outdoors)
As a newbie mom, what advice would you give entrepreneurial moms / moms with a side hustle on balancing work and life?
Motherhood is an incredible change agent and opportunity to really pare down only the things you truly care about! It's also joyful and energizing. You will find the time for things that matter to you :).
Finally, what advice would you give entrepreneurial spirits who want to start their “wine hustle” but are hesitant to take that leap?
Going to end with another Amelia Earhart quote: "The most effective way to do it, is to do it." Just commit to starting and the rest will fall into place.