Creating An Authentic Wine Company with Rachel Silkowski
Rachel Silkowski is the assistant winemaker for Loring Wine Company & the founder/winemaker of Rasi Wine Company, both based in Lompoc, California.
1. full of zest or vigor; having a strongly marked quality; piquant; risqué, suggestive
2. having the distinctive quality of something in its original or most characteristic form
Rachel and I dig into how she initially got into wine, her curiosity of the winemaking process, and the feeling of holding a tangible finished product. She then shares with us the story of how she started Rasi Wine Company, where the name comes from, and how she intuitively approaches each aspect of how she makes her wines & markets them from place of authenticity. I can’t wait for you to hear how she came up with the labels for her first wine called One.
Then, if that wasn’t enough, Rachel shares with us her plans for the future of Rasi, how her wines have been rated 93 – 95 points with only has three vintages out, we chat about urban wineries, and how she is giving back to the community in Los Angeles through an event that you can attend called Women, Wine, Makers.
I absolutely loved chatting with Rachel; she has really inspired me to take a more authentic approach to life and my work. I hope you enjoy hearing her story.
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A subscription to The Grand Tour will get you four different bottles of truly special, sommelier-approved wine for $95 each month (plus shipping), along with expert insight into the stories behind the wines, from the people and places who produce them to how they’re made, tasting notes, pairings and more. So you can go on with your life, leave the research to the geeks, and look forward to enjoying unique, remarkable, trustworthy wines in the comfort of your home.
Full Transcript of the conversation below
In this episode we mention…
Loring Wine Company
Rasi Wine Company
Oregon State University
Loring Pinot Noirs
Close Pepe Vineyard
Santa Rita Hills AVA
One, Pinot Noir (Rasi’s first wine)
Three Barrels, Santa Rita Pinot Noir (Rasi’s second wine)
Paso Robles Mouvedre (Rasi’s third wine)
Wine Advocate 93-95 Points for Rasi
Wine Enthusiast 93 Points for Rasi
Rasi One Labels (first wine)
Women, Wine, Makers Monthly Event
Space 15 Twenty
Sine Qua Non Winery
Andremily Wine 2013 Syrah
Flying Colors Grenache
Follow Rachel & Rasi on…
Rachel: My name is Rachel Silkowski. I’ve worked the last five years as the assistant wine maker at Loring Wine Company and I’m the owner winemaker of my own label, Rasi Wine Company. I split my time between Los Angeles and Lompoc, California.
Chappy: Very nice. That’s pretty incredible place in the world to live.
R: Yeah, it’s the best of both worlds.
C: So, how did you get into wine? Why wine? When did you first take an interest?
R: I started pretty young. I started internship at Loring Wine Company when I think I was 18 or 19 years old. So my interest started either on age 15 or 16.
C: What kind of got you first into it?
R: Well, both my parents are CPAs and they’ve worked for the same accounting firm so every night at dinner it was the same corporate culture. But one thing we made a point to do is five nights a week, we sit around the table, candlelight dinner, well-cooked meal, and they always had wine at the table and it started with a get a few sips here and there and I think that’s what sort of sparked everything.
C: Nice. What kind of wines would you be drinking or did you not really know, you just knew this is something you probably shouldn’t be drinking at that time?
R: I knew it was definitely nice of them. Anything, any of my friends could possibly get their hands on. It was a lot of California or Washington wines.
C: Do you remember a point thinking like there’s something to this wine or there’s something about this that I want to explore more that led you to the initial internship?
R: I always felt like the wine, like you take a sip of the wine and you eat the food and it made the meal more fantastic and there was something you know, it wasn’t just, there was some sort of like beauty in how it tasted and the layers of the flavors. And I had always been artistic, I always thought that maybe I’d turn to some sort of like art world. I looked at the labels. I love the artistry in the bottle and I knew I loved working with my hands so, I started talking about maybe working at a winery some day at the dinner table with my parents. I remember sitting there sitting across my stepmom and my dad and saying, “Well, a lot of people get caught up in the romance of winemaking. You should maybe go and work in a winery and see if you like the work or you’re going to hate it because it’s dirty and it’s cold on long days and it’s hard work. So, that’s what led me to pursuing the internship.
C: So, how did you know the people at Loring or how did you kind of approach that initially?
R: I didn’t. So when my parents sort of offered up, “Maybe you should try an internship.” I kind of reached out, I kind of used like assistance. I had some like extended family in Lompoc in Santa Barbara County which is where wineries were because when we’d go and I always was stuck in the car while they had wine tasting. So, I asked them for a list of wineries that they recommended that was close enough for me to commute while staying with my aunt and uncles and grandparents. And Loring Wine Company just happened to be the first one on that list and I sent Brian and Kimberly an email just saying, “I’m 19 years old studying at CalState but I’m interested in changing my major and pursuing wine but first I want to see the production site of a winery. If there’s anything at all you need help with washing glasses like sweeping floors, whatever.” It was in the summer so it was right before harvest season. And they got back to me and said they were just about to start bottling. They bottled the wines in August to prepare for harvest and every winery could definitely use extra hands for bottling because on season you need 14 hands instead of four. So they said, “Come out and try bottling.” And I loved it. I helped them with racking and bottling that summer and then I wanted to see harvest after hearing so much about it and I was going to school about three hours away. So, for about four or five weekends in a row, I would drive up on weekends to work the harvest and just got deeper and deeper in the process.
C: That’s awesome. That kind of sounds like how I started with wine. It’s kind of similar to you, pretty much the same age and same time frame too! I started when I emailed a local winery in North Carolina and they’re like, “Yeah, come help!” And on my first day, we bottled like a thousand bottles all by hand and labeled everything by hand. It was just like 10 or 12 hours of just, it’s manual work. It’s kind of miserable but at the same time there’s something about it that’s just so amazing.
R: It’s like the most tedious part of the whole process is like usually wineries, it’s like their 10th vintage is their least favorite part. As a newcomer, I think maybe something that’s so amazing about it is you start the day with a wine tank and end the day with a bottled wine. Not very many careers do get to physically hold what you produce because you know…
C: Yes, you get the see the whole process even if it’s a short amount of time that you’re get to see it from this basically manufacturing line you can say to this final product that you can actually sell to somebody or you can use.
R: Yeah, it’s tangible maybe that’s why we both like it because every time I tell people bottling is what got me into wine making they’re like, “What? Didn’t that drive you away?”
C: If you have told me, “Come here and bottle wine for ten hours.”, I would be like, “No. Sorry about that.” But actually doing it is just, I don’t know, I don’t know but I guess it’s that tangible aspect. I just fell in love with it from there. So from that time, where were you studying at college?
R: I was just studying general business administration because I didn’t really know what I wanted. I think I started contemplating getting into the wine industry around the time that I had already been accepted in a local college so I thought I’d go with that and there’s always the opportunity to transfer. That’s what ultimately I ended up doing. I transferred to Oregon State University and studied Agricultural Business Management with a focus on wine.
C: I’m just curious to I ask people, do you think their college degree actually helps in their career afterwards or not?
R: I don’t think so. Brian Loring and I actually had this kind of joke. He’s like, “You ever do what you learned in college, raise your hand and tell me.” We just joke and that didn’t happen. I didn’t have this technical of a degree. I think that because mine was pretty general, like agricultural business management so, I could do like agricultural accounting or agricultural law but I don’t really use that in wine making. If I studied oenology or viticulture, I think that the people that have that background is probably much more useful.
C: Do you ever think you’re going to grad school for something like that?
R: I love learning and I actually loved going to school so the path to grad school has always intrigued me but I don’t think I would because the rate that I learned hands on is just so much faster than what you learn in the classroom. And I would just, if I ever wanted to further my career but learn something about wine that I didn’t know, I think I would harvest at another winery or another country or just, you know, people are just so friendly in the wine industry. I found every single person that I asked about wine or wine business, they’re so responsive. I learned you can pool from these resources and I think learn so much from grad school but the rate at which you learn is faster in now that I’m in the business and ready to go. I can’t spend a year or two to improve myself or learn that stuff on a condensed amount of time.
C: Absolutely. I’m curious, when you started your internship, did you know how wine was made? Or did you kind of know how the process worked? Or very much intrigued by this, I know nothing, teach me?
R: It’s sort of a blend in together now what I knew before. I think I actually didn’t have that romantic vision in my head like walk into the vineyards and squeezing the grapes in my hand. I remember thinking that was like, it’s a manufacturing job. I had seen wineries before and it was a lot of steel tanks and concrete slipping floors and drains and hoses so I think I knew it wasn’t going to be this pretty picturesque chateau. I think I was intrigued by what the actual physical work was. I didn’t know the process from grape to fermentation to bottle that I think I knew that it was a hands on labor-intensive work and that was very interesting for me.
C: So now as the assistant wine maker at Loring and running Rasi, what’s a typical day for you?
R: It’s very seasonal. That’s something I learned about wine is when if you’re in the mood to get a lot of work done but it just happens to be April, nothing’s happening at the winery, there’s nothing to be done. The wine kind of just wants to be left alone. That’s why my favorite time is harverst so, it’s all broken up in seasons for me, the fall, the harvest, we rack the wines from the ones in spring, which is nice because we get to have a taste of every barrel, see how everything’s doing. But now, it’s more of making sure the bottles are topped and the wine tasted good and there are no issues and then we’ll get into blending. Because at Loring, they make 22 different wines, 90% of which are Pinot Noir so, it’s not how many you make Pinot Noir but the blend, the blending process is really intensive. They’ve got multiple vineyards that they source from and they also make AVA blends so to make the best possible Clos Pepe vineyard for example, they taste all the different Clos and all the sections of Clos Pepe that they got to make the best possible version of Clos Pepe but they’re not using a hundred percent of the barrels. Whatever is not used to make Clos Pepe single vineyard Pinot is used to make the Santa Rita Hills AVA Pinot but there’s just so many versions. There’s no right version. That’s always really fun and bottling and selling it.
C: It seems that, I mean I don’t work in a winery now, but I kind of wish I did, but it always seems that this is something that I learned at school, our teacher would always be like, so here’s the timeline on the powerpoint of the winemaking process for a year and you go skiing at this time, and you go skiing this time, and you actually do some work this time but when you’re actually doing the work, it’s full on. It’s like a hundred hours a week so I’m curious when it is harvest time and you’re bringing everything in, how are you balancing working you main job and then I guess your day job and also your company?
R: My company is small enough. I do the math, I respond to emails, that’s why I try to get the release letter out before harvest and let everyone know I’m not going to be packing and shipping orders until after harvest. And I mean, at Loring, it is Brian and Kimberly Loring, which is a brother and sister team and we have another young man names Bryan Rodriguez, who’s my age, helps out and then myself, and Brian and Kimberly’s mother Helen and that’s the whole wine making team. We don’t hire any other additional help. We work seven days a week for about six weeks straight. There will be two weeks at a time I won’t even walk into my office, I walk in through the front door, my bag goes into the chair by the front door, I walk straight to the production room and then I leave. My desk just goes untouched. I’m trying to be responsive and communicative with my mailing list as much as I can. I think in the industry, there’s definitely like it’s known, that around this time is the work and all of the other business administration can get done in a week or two.
C: So, do you have your own separate winery for Rasi or do you rent space at Loring? How is that?
R: I make the wine at Loring which is definitely a huge perk. When I first got offered the job assistant wine maker, I was actually not fully graduated from college yet. I was like three months from graduating. And they said, “Harvest is coming up. How would you feel about coming on full time in Lompoc.” It’s like, right then and there, in the future, “We would like you to make some wine here.” And that was a huge selling point, nit just being assistant wine maker, but the opportunity to make wine. Like I said, the wine culture is very helpful and they’ve been nice enough. I only make a few barrels a year so I get to use their equipment and we sort of make it all together so we make the Loring wine and mine usually takes half a day. It’s not that usually big of a deal. It just gets fit into the schedule somewhere. My barrels are in a corner of the winery and they’re my responsibility and if we’re racking for Loring wines, we’re going to rack Rasi wines at the same time because that’s when we clean the tanks and have everything ready. A lot of the processes are done in the same time frame but everything is kept in separate barrels.
C: So how many cases are you making a year for Rasi?
R: I’m only making about 75 so it’s very small but this year I’ve grown to 150 and I hope it grows to 400 this harvest, hopefully.
C: That’s a big bump. I mean, it’s not a ton of wine but still I mean, that’s more than double the output.
R: When I had the first vintage from one barrel, 25 cases, to the second vintage going to 75 cases. I tripled production in one year but it’s still so small that it isn’t significant. But any other business model tripling production within a year just sounds horrifying.
C: So what’s the story behind Rasi? How did you actually get started?
R: Like I said, it was offered to me and anyone with an interest in wine. You work somewhere and thatgets offered to you, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. I knew that I was going to take that opportunity and just about two years of working at Loring I said, “Hey, this is something I really want. I think I mentioned this when I got hired. It’s been something down the line. I think I want to start doing that.” And that sort of snowballed. Brian Loring kind of told me some of the initial steps to get the licensing. He gave me the name of who prints their labels and he’s like, “Okay, we will order Loring bottles for bottling we might just hack on 25 cases.” “Yes please!” A lot of it was very streamlined for me which meant that I just got to focus on the wine and making the wine which is the fun part. So the first vintage was just a barrel and it was sort of my experiment. I used my own savings to make a barrel which is a huge risk and I felt like, nothing else, if it doesn’t turn into a business, I’ve made a product and it has my name on it and friends and family will drink it and I’ll drink it. It’s not an extreme amount of wine. One barrel is a hundred bottles so you know, it would have been fun no matter what and I got a great response. I got pretty good scores and the reactions from people and I just generally had a really fun time doing it but I also kept thinking about how I could do it better. So the first vintage, I took orders by hand. I had a pretty basic website which is some information and I did a release letter but I thought you know, maybe I can streamline the mailing list and make a better way of communicating with my mailing list and maybe I want to add this to my website and maybe I want to do this kind of labels. There’s always this opportunity to do something better because it’s learning each time you do it. It’s all new and I think that really drives me to continue because I’ve been really proud of what I’ve done but it sort of feeds my hunger for wanting to do more and more, wanting to be better, and that’s sort of what’s led to me trying to grow a lot more for the next vintage is, I’ve got a lot of ideas that I really want to pursue and I can’t pursue that without having making more wine and different types of varietals so, it’s just sort of growing in that way.
C: So your first vintage was Pinot Noir, correct?
C: And then, you’ve done three vintages total, what are the other two?
R: So the first one was called ONE, as in my first wine barrel. The second wine was called Three Barrels. It’s Pinot Noir made from three different vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills and the third wine is a Mourvedre from Paso Robles, and that was the 2015 vintage when the yields were definitely down in Central Coast especially for Pinot and Mourvedre was a varietal that I always wanted to make but is so difficult to get ripe but I used air glasses root from Pasa Robles which I think he had known that I had an interest in each year and it wasn’t until you know, the start of the line. We got some great rain and yields were good and vines look like it’s going to get ripe but it was like, “Okay we have enough to make Mourvedre.” And I always wanted to do 100% Mourvedre in brand new oak. I’ve been told that it won’t sell and I definitely have a harder time selling it in retail locations because the customers don’t know what Mourvedre is or single varietal Mourvedre. That was a wine I made purely for myself because I believed in it and I thought if people try it and like it, I only need so many people to like it but this is something I really want to do even if it doesn’t make sense. So, it’s sort of been the evolution and I think maybe because of my background working with Pinot Noir and single vineyard varietals, that’s something I want to explore more in the future because I really like single vineyard and single varietal Mourvedre and also Granache. I think it tastes interesting to taste a grape without blending it and seeing exactly what this one grape does even if maybe we didn’t combine it with other grapes because it adds complexity, adds roundness. To taste like a Pinot Noir, you get the finish, you get the mouth feel all from this one grape and it’s the complete picture.
C: Yeah, I think there definitely is something about you’re drinking one grape especially if it’s something that is, it’s so complex and if you’re a wine drinker and you know the label, “Wow! This is a single varietal.” It’s kind of mind blowing to think that all of these comes from one grape, one great variety. I think it’s really interesting when somebody can take a single varietal and make it more interesting that a blended wine. I think there’s quite a few people doing that right now. But I think it’s just so fascinating. I think we’re going to see a lot more people experimenting with that.
R: Yeah, I would love more of those to drink. So, definitely, definitely excited about it.
C: So, I would say that considering that you kind of crossed over to reviews aspect, you had some pretty insane reviews. For your first wines, you had some 93-95 points like that from Wine Spectator and what not?
R: Yeah, Advocate gave that Mourvedre, because it was reviewed as a barrel sample. They do a two-point range rather than a score so the Mourvedre got 93-95. Wine Enthusiast gave 3 barrels the second Pinot I made 93 points and they compared it to Christmas, which was like the favorite thing I ever read. It’s just shocking and it’s flattering but it’s interesting though. It’s one person’s opinion. It’s one highly-esteemed, very respected opinion but it can be very dividing and some people love scores and some hate scores so I try to just make the best wine possible and I know it’s not going to be for everybody. But something that’s really interesting about wine is like wine styles and wine preferences can be as dividing as politics. This is one of the nicest industries to work in. Every single person that I’ve met in this industry is hardworking and in it because they love it, they want to have fun. If there’s someone in the industry that’s not in it for those reasons, we’re probably not meeting with them or talking to them or working with them because they’re probably so high up that we would never be in the same realm. I know with wine there’s a lot of preferences and I think you just have to, as a winemaker, make what you like to drink, what you love, because if you try something that’s a style that really trendy right now, you won’t be able to make the best version of it because it’s not your version. So you need to make what you like and that’s what you’ll do your best at.
C: Absolutely. Speaking of kind of individuality, you mentioned, you really love and are in being hands-on, what’s the story behind the first labels that you did?
R: So the first wine is really fun but it was actually an accident. I had hired a graphic designer to help me with my first label because while I like playing around different mediums. I really didn’t know about graphic design and packaging of the product. I hired an outside source and we just weren’t, after months of trying, we weren’t coming to an agreement on what I should it look like and it was the day before the labels needed to be submitted to the printing company to get there in time for bottling. And then I decided to scrap the whole idea. I was up in Lompoc at that time and my boyfriend who does have some sort of creative and design background sat with me on the phone, we Facetimed, we made the label, we picked the pieces that we liked. And everytime I’m saying, put what you love on the label. I said, “Okay. I love dogs. Let’s put the dog on the label.” What do I love? I love wine and so I decided that since it was only going to be 300 bottles, it was feasible to make 300 unique labels. So we printed the labels pretty much blank with just the logo and the vintage and all the necessary regulated information and left it as a sort of blank canvass and then the labels get printed in rolls so when you put it in the bottling line, it automatically sticks to the bottles but we pulled out the rolls cut them in 300 individual labels and then opened up the A/C and dropped the bottle on the labels and then hand-numbered them 1 to 300. Each bottle is unique. I knew the first vintage was probably going to friends and family, almost entirely. I was really surprised when I get an order from someone in Chicago or someone in New York. That felt amazing too! But I just really liked the fact that I have this unique experience with the wine which is why I came up with wine in the first place. So I then scanned all 300 labels into the website and then left a section where people could write the bottle number and then their name or they can choose to be anonymous and then their comment on the wine whether be it a tasting note or just any sort of remark. So when they go in the website, there is a tab called ONE and it has all 300 labels on there. And if you click on your label, it has an overlay where it says the description if someone had submitted it. I think I’ve only gotten about 40 submissions but still, it’s amazing to click through and read people’s reactions to the wines because I’m not there when a bottle is opened and I’m happy to be part of it that way.
C: I love that. So I work in marketing too. That’s my day job is like, we do a lot of printing and everything and so to scrap everything the day before you send it to a printer, that is just ridiculous. The fact that you pulled it off, I think it has that so much authenticity to it which helps you tell the story of the wine itself as well. In which, I think, in turn makes the wine better because it’s entire experience not just tasting wine. That’s really cool.
R: Any time I open a new wine, I try to like, grab a notebook and write a note on. It always seems to be a new notebook so they’re never all in one place. Now there are apps for that but I just like the idea like there’s a place for at least this one wine where, if one forgot what they wrote, they can go back to the website to reference it.
C: That’s cool. Some of the comments are just good. That’s inspiring too! Imagine, as a wine maker looking at somebody talking about your product and having that as something you can constantly reference. I saw an inspiration there just knowing what can I do to make this better in the future for more people.
R: Yeah, it’s probably more rewarding for me than it is for the consumer because I get to be part of process. I get feedback. It’s just very rewarding.
C: What would be your advice? First of all, how old are you?
R: I’m 27.
C: So what would be your advice to somebody who is just starting out? Maybe they’re just starting out in the wine industry or they want to be a wine maker and they’re probably working in a winery and they have the aspiration of actually starting their own one day. What would be your advice to them?
R: My advice to them would be, first of all, if they’re already working for a winery, they probably have a lot of resources available to them. Even if they aren’t able to make the wine in that space, giving constraints, or the winery just wants to keep it separate, but they’ve got a hopeful of people who work in the wine industry and because of their association, they can also reach out to other wine makers that they’ve never met before. Every single person I’ve emailed has, “I’ve got a question about licensing.” “I’ve got a question about a compliance consultant.” “Question about this grape because I haven’t made it.” I get a paragraph back of just useful information. People are really willing to help others in the industry. It’s not competitive. I mean, it is competitive, but not in the sense that people aren’t willing to help you because they think you’re going to copy their idea or something. If you’re interested in making your own label but you aren’t able to make your own wine in the facility you’re at, you can keep your day job and you can find a custom crash facility and start small. You can self-finance a couple of barrels and it’s not a huge risk. I tend to be an over-researcher. I took a long time to set up the website or to write release letters because I need it to be just perfect. And then of course, after that, I decided “Oh, I would have changed this.” So, I’d say that just moving forward one step at a time and doing it you’ll learn along the way. Even if you make a couple barrels and you don’t end up getting website ready to sell it or you don’t sell out immediately like, you made a wine and you can share that with friends and family. The thing is, there’s nothing like I wish I had made more wine at first because now I’ve got 8 bottles from my first vintage and in ten years I’d like to have a bottle of my first vintage at the dinner table on Thanksgiving or something. I don’t really have that option. It’s really scary. You’re getting yourself out there and I think you worry what if someone hates the wine I make or what if I screw up somehow? Grapes don’t ferment into wine. If you run in any problems, you can email a winemaker and ask what they did to solve whatever issue you may have. And chances are they have probably faced that before and there’s a solution.
C: Invaluable resources out there.
C: First of all, I forgot to mention or ask, where does the name come from? Where does the name Rasi come from?
R: So my stepmom actually came up with the name Rasi. R-A-S-I instead of R-A-C-Y is a play on my initials which is Rachel Silkowski. But why I really chose to name the wine Rasi is if you look up in Webster’s dictionary, the term racy the definition isn’t what you think. It’s full of zest or vigor, having a strong marked quality. The second definition of the word racy is having the distinctive quality of something in its original and most characteristic form. And I just thought, that is the wine I want to make, very hands-off, pure. I planned to continue with more Pinot Noir in the future and that just seemed to be a Pinot Noir description to me. So I decided to go with that.
C: Nice. I like it. I like everything about Rasi as a whole, from the name itself to the labels to the wines. They all have a story and a meaning of some sort.
R: Yeah, I guess so. I tend to buy products like brands that have a story so maybe that just sort of blended itself into what I ended up doing.
C: I think it makes sense because I feel like the product that you’re making is a reflection of you. Even though I don’t know you, I still feel like when you look into your marketing, you read about the wines and everything else. I feel like you can start with the idea of who you are as a winemaker because it is so hands-on or technically hands-off but it’s very much a part of you. I don’t know if that’s weird to say but still, I feel like it’s there which from a marketing standpoint is great and it makes sense.
R: I guess there is no other way to do it than just make it super personal.
C: So, what’s the goal and dream for Rasi?
R: Well, like I said earlier, I’ve got a lot of new ideas. I’ve recently just moved. Before, I was living in Lompoc and commuting to L.A. I recently moved to L.A. and I’m commuting to Lompoc as needed for the winery. So I started to switch around because I feel very, it sounds cheesy to say but, inspired living in Los Angeles. There’s so many creative people doing amazing things and I’ve only been here for about three months full time and between talking more with my boyfriend, talking more with my friends, talking to strangers, somehow all these ideas have a evolved and I’m planning to grow Rasi into it’s own brand. So that eventually, it can have it’s own winery. So making different varietals and making a few wines a year rather than just really producing one wine a year and I guess doing more things that make it even more personal. I want to have more communication with my mailing list in different mediums, plan more events. I guess the five year goal would be I’d like to open a tasting room in Los Angeles, maybe one day a winery of full production winery in the city. Being here, there’s so much breweries and distilleries popping up and I know there is plenty other people who would love to see a winery in Los Angeles or already trying to do it. I think it’d be great if we could get there’s the funk zone in Santa Barbara or let’s call it the wine ghetto in Lompoc, something like that here would be amazing.
C: That would be really good. I’ve been thinking about the idea of like an urban winery would be, it’s such a good concept. It makes so much sense from, because if we look into the success of breweries and distilleries, people love going to them just hanging out, drinking beers, having cocktails. It’s just a good, fun atmosphere but there aren’t many urban wineries around the world.
R: Yeah, there’s very few in Los Angeles. Portland’s kind of going on board, San Francisco definitely, even New York has a couple. I think it is a great idea.
C: I just went to, I was in London last weekend, and there’s only one urban winery there. The wines are really good and they import everything from Spain, Italy, France and what-not. The wines are delicious. It’s in the middle if Kensington in London and it’s how you think that London having such a rich wine heritage that there would be more or there would have been at least one 10-20 years ago. But this one’s opened up in the past three or four years.
R: That’s amazing!
C: Yeah, so I think that’s kind of the trend as we see more and more wineries which is great. So, you mentioned in there about doing more events, tell us about women winemakers. When is it, how to get it started and all that.
R: Women winemakers is a monthly event that started right when I moved to Los Angeles. Like I said, there’s a some incredible people in the city. Being here, I’ve met so many and one in particular is my friend Shiva who is the events coordinator for Space 15Twenty in Hollywood. Space 15Twenty is some sort of, I don’t know what you’d call it, like a compound and there’s multiple urban outfitters and there’s an umami burger and there’s like another store. It’s like a small collective of stores around the courtyard and they have one store that is just for rotating art installations, different studio pieces. She had this great space but she always said, “If you have a cool idea the venue is yours. We can get it on the calendar and we can provide support for the event. Just let me know any cool ideas you have.” So we sat down for lunch right when I moved here because now that I’m here, I’d sold out my wine but I held back a few cases just because I basically don’t have much to do between now and bottling and I wanted to still stay active and stay part of the wine community. So I held back a couple cases just doing my own events. I was trying to think what the theme would be and it would obviously be centered around what I do. I’m a young female winemaker so I sort of broke down the word, women winemaker. So the event is completely donation based with all the proceeds going to an organization that benefits women. Originally, I planned on rotating with that organization was but I’ve sort of fallen in love with the Downtown Women’s Center which is an organization in skid-row that helps the women of skid-row get on their feet and get them the workplace, get them housing, being so close to downtown L.A. and seeing, driving through the sort of depressed neighborhoods really encouraged me to continue to help that cause specifically. But we can definitely, each month, if something came up, I can definitely, a much as we’re raising money, I’d love to find other causes to support. Like I said, I sold off all the wines so I didn’t have a ton of inventory and I also thought it would be kind of boring to feature the same wine each month if people wanted to come to multiple events. So I teamed up with Vinley Market which is a female woman-ran business that is sort of like an online wine club and wine shop and they provide some wines made by other female producers around the world. And then we focused on makers so, during the wine tasting segment, we really focus on the production side of winemaking, not so much in what you’re tasting but how is this wine made. If you’re tasting a Chardonnay and it tastes toasty and buttery, where are those flavors coming from? What part of the production process creates that flavor? And to make it fun, we usually pair with a maker of a different medium so far we’ve had a weaver and we’ve had an illustrator and we’re going to be doing someone who works with oils to talk about aroma but just sort of give it another layer of complexity and another activity to do because the event is two hours long. So we just sort of combine all of those themes into one two-hour event.
C: That’s cool. That’s really good. It seems like from what I’ve seen, that it’s been really, really well-received and it keeps being sold out.
R: Yeah, we’re just about to do our third and each time they’re sold out which is great because the proceeds are going to an organization that is supporting women. So, the more tickets we sell, the more money we handover to these organizations. It’s just incredible. I would never single-handedly be able to donate that much money just from my own income. To be able to create a space where I can facilitate that is just amazing.
C: That’s cool. Where can people sign up for that, the events?
R: I host pretty regularly to my own Facebook account and also Space 15Twenty does a lot of the promotion and so the tickets are usually posted on there. So if you are interested in, probably if you’re in Los Angeles area and you type in something like ‘women in wine’ that event would probably pop up from your feed. So that’s where they are now. I plan to eventually connect them to my mailing list and keep them updated on all of the events I plan to do once I have a more regular schedule but for now, it’s on event break.
C: I’ll link that in the show so people can go in there and find that in my website.
C: So we’re almost out of time, I just have a few more questions, one of them being what have you been feeling grateful for lately?
R: I’ve been feeling grateful for all the people that I’ve met and continue to meet. I mean number one is Brian and Kimberly Loring. I wouldn’t have the freedom to be creative as I want to be if I didn’t have the security of making the wine at such a wonderful place. And just getting to experiment and try this out. I hope to continue the business and be definitely in the production side of wine making the rest of my life but I sort of right now am taking a leap and we’ll see how the pieces fall but just getting to be able to take this time for myself to try something new.
C: Love that. Where can people connect with you online and buy your wines, if they aren’t all sold out yet.
R: So I have a website, it’s www.rasiwine.com and I have a mailing list that I’m planning to grow. I sell all my wine to my mailing list right now because it’s offered to them first before I reach out to other wholesalers, distributors, which I never really done at this point yet. I’ll be starting to be engaging with my mailing list more in terms of what’s going on in the winery, any events that I might do, and just continue to sort of let them know how I’m growing the business and where they can find the wines and it’s also available to order over the internet through the website. You can purchase the wines and I ship them out from the facility in Lompoc. It’s all pretty much done by hand, I get an order, I run up to Lompoc and pack it and ship it.
C: Nice. Nice. I’ll link the website and all your social media stuff on my website. So last question is, which a lot of people have trouble answering, although some people just have on top of their head, but what is one wine, other than your own, that you’re excited about lately?
R: There’s actually two wines that I’m excited about. One is sort of almost an unattainable, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the winery in Ventura but their assistant winemaker came about with a label about three years ago called Andromalie and I just opened my first bottle from them this week. It was a 2013 Syrah and it was incredible and I’m really glad to know that I have five more bottles because it was so good. The other wine that I’m excited about and I think it’s actually going to motivate me to pursue this kind of varietal is, I have a friend who owns Levo wine in Paso Robles and he came out with a wine called Flying Colors, it’s a Rose and it think it’s primarily Granache and I got interested to buy it because he posted a picture of this concrete egg that he was fermenting then and I was like, “I have to try that.” And I typically like oak on wines. He makes such incredible wines. I just want to see what his version of a concrete egg wine would be and it was so good. It was so flavorful. It didn’t taste thin or like I thought stainless steel Roses or Chardonnays sometimes taste. It was crisp but it was also a very full mouth feel . It was just a beautifully made Rose. Rose is sometimes one of those wines that is on the lower end of price point and maybe just doesn’t get appreciated for its complexity and I’ve been trying some amazing Rosés lately and I really wanted to try making a Rosé of Mourvedre or Rosé of Pinot Noir after trying some of these wines.