Step aside, Beverly Cleary: Sommelier and entrepreneur Jordan Salcito is giving a whole new mischievous meaning to the name, Ramona.
Inspired by the free-spirited fictional heroine, Salcito’s RAMONA pairs personality with panache, all in refreshing (pink) form. After years as the beverage director at Momofuku, she decided to translate her passion for wine into a festive bevvie with street/somm-cred sans pretension. Tackling the passé space of the wine cooler, she recast the spritzer as socially conscious, sourcing only organic ingredients— Zibibbo grapes from Sicily, grapefruit juice, cane syrup. The combination is incomparable: bright and bubbly, a bit sweet, a bit bitter, utterly refreshing.
At Persephone, we enjoy RAMONA straight from the can or mixed with Aperol in a Spritz. Before you take another sip, we wanted to introduce you to the genius behind the sensation:
The character of RAMONA—which your sister pulled from the pages of Beverly Cleary’s books as her alter ego—embodies all that is fun and free-spirited. Is there a moment you remember from your childhood (or adulthood!) that seems to perfectly represent the experience you want people to have while drinking a RAMONA?
Oh goodness, I think for me, my most 'RAMONA' moment was the one when I decided to create RAMONA! It was a moment of high/low in my life and I think that emotional sentiment is what created the opportunity for RAMONA to exist. (My wine program at Momofuku Ko had just been nominated for an 'Outstanding Service' award from the James Beard Foundation, and then, a week later, I passed two of the three parts of the Master Sommelier Exam (blind tasting and theory) but failed service for 'not seeming like myself' to a table of judges who had never seen me work the floor of a restaurant. And then three days later I found out I was pregnant with our son Henry! It was a week of change, and of incredible highs (with some lows). That mental space and the conviction to sort of seize the moment and do something is what led to RAMONA.
Could you describe a quintessential day (or way) to enjoy RAMONA, including the menu?
One of our tag-lines is "Wine Without Rules" and that is very much the spirit of RAMONA! RAMONA is iterative by design—the perfect way, or perfect day to enjoy it is entirely in the hands of whomever is about to consume it. I love seeing the various ways people use RAMONA and really make it their own.
Like you, we share a commitment to sourcing the best ingredients we can find even when challenged by our mountain perch.
With RAMONA, you’ve figured out a way to buck the memory of the wine coolers of yore—packed as they were with artificial fruit flavors and chemical carbonation—by going all organic and all natural. How were you able to abide by organic or bust? For me, organic ingredients are a non-negotiable. After working with small growers in Italy (with Bellus) for the past decade, Italy's incredible value proposition became undeniably clear for me. Italy values flavor and high-integrity ingredients more than, perhaps, anywhere else. In addition, their wine growing culture is centuries-old, and in most parts of Italy—and Sicily, where we source our grapes, the climate is quite conducive to organic farming.
Celebs like Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Rihanna have all been spotted popping the top of a RAMONA can. Now two years into distribution, how have you been able to translate cool factor into sustainable sales performance?
We have been so lucky in that people who try RAMONA generally tend to like it! It's been very exciting that so many high-profile people enjoy RAMONA, but nothing is more exciting than people trying RAMONA and wanting to drink it and share it with others. We couldn’t resist closing with a Beverly Cleary reference: When describing her spunky star of Ramona the Pest, she writes: “She was not a slowpoke grownup. She was a girl who could not wait. Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next.” A quotation that could as easily apply to you—your life is so interesting, we have to find out what’s happening next! Love this! Thank you so much for including RAMONA as part of your program at Persephone and for this chance to share more about it here.
Ramona Spritz Recipe
1 can of Ramona
Pour Aperol into a tall glass. Top with Ramona and a splash of sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon. Fun and free-spiritedness in a glass.