Kristin Olszewski is the wine director at Gigi’s in Hollywood, founder and CEO of canned wine firm Nomadica, and host of this month’s Eater Wine Club. The wine aficionado majored in sustainable agriculture in school earlier than embarking on pre-med research at Harvard; throughout her time in Cambridge, she met the proprietor of a wine bar who sparked her ardour for the drink. She dropped out of college to earn a Level 3 sommelier certification and hasn’t seemed again since.
Over the previous decade, Olszewski has labored for and run wine applications at a quantity of esteemed eating places together with Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles and Husk in Nashville. These days, she’s balancing the Growth of Nomadica, together with curating environmentally aware wines at Gigi’s. Eater LA sits down with this Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 decide to hear why she’s feeling optimistic in regards to the setting, the economic system, and the Central Coast — and why the wine trade is overdue for a renaissance.
On the significance of holistic sustainability inside the wine trade: I feel the largest factor nobody is speaking about is the precise sustainability behind wine. We speak so much about natural farming, biodynamic farming, and pure wine, however I don’t assume sufficient individuals are asking significant questions round holistic sustainability. Like, is your packaging sustainable? I can not even inform you how a lot of an uphill battle it’s to begin a sustainable packaging firm. People assume simply because it’s not in a bottle that it’s inferior to bottled wine, which is completely incorrect. But even past that, are the staff of the vineyard being paid honest wages? Good working situations? Do they’ve medical health insurance? What are we supporting right here with our greenbacks once we’re speaking about sustainability?
I used to be up the coast just a few months in the past on a visit to west Sonoma when the area obtained licensed as its personal AVA (American Viticulture Area), and was simply blown away by the stewardship and environmentalism that these distributors had been exhibiting. I really feel like that dialogue is usually misplaced within the pure wine dialog.
On why the longer term of wine is within the Central Coast and Sonoma: I’m excited by all of the younger individuals who’ve been coming to the Central Coast. We’re actually pushing the envelope on what California wine is. Holus Bolus, Amplify, Natural Action Wine Coalition, Scotty Boy (not that younger however doing cool stuff), Sol Miner — oh my god, it’s so good. The Central Coast turned identified for making an attempt to be Napa for some time, particularly Paso Robles, and I feel the realm has developed this tight-knit neighborhood farming the appropriate means and making low-intervention wines.
In phrases of ecological stewardship, the West Sonoma ADA, Hirsch Vineyards, Ted Lemon, Ceritas, Occidental, all of these actually unimaginable legacy vintners, are interested by winemaking in a means that’s so significant and thrilling. I used to be up there a month in the past [and] this journey invigorated me and jogged my memory why I obtained into wine. Now, we’re not simply speaking about making nice wine and promoting it, we’re speaking about returning vitamins to the earth, having a decreased carbon footprint, veterans being paid honest wages and being taken care of. And I feel it’s simply actually inspiring to know that I’m working alongside folks like that.
On how shoppers will be extra conscious about sustainability and their carbon footprint: Slightly bit of a sizzling take – I feel that change wants to occur inside the wine neighborhood on the client’s facet. One of the issues with wine is there’s a lot of it and it’s insane to navigate. Educating shoppers is essential and extra patrons want to do this.
On the following decade of wine: I’ve a novel perspective as a result of I’ve Nomadica, and we’re investor-backed and fundraised, however then I additionally run this system at Gigi’s the place I purchase from actually small producers and small distributors. I’ve a holistic view of the wine trade.
I feel the wine trade could be very scared. The funding neighborhood is basically down on wine as a class — they assume it’s dying, they assume younger shoppers are switching to spirits. But I’m optimistic that wine is right here to keep, and is having a resurgence with millennials and Gen Z. We are trending towards realizing what’s in our meals and there’s no higher beverage for that than wine. It’s grapes, water, yeast, and time. Do you need decrease ABV than that cocktail? Great, drink wine. Something that pairs very well with meals? Great, drink wine. Something with a narrative behind it? Wine. It’s a dwelling beverage. As the palate skews extra brilliant, acid-driven with the rise in recognition of issues like kombucha, wine can have an enormous resurgence within the bigger market.
On the place she drinks in Los Angeles, and thinks you must too: Evelyn Goreshnik, who runs this system for Last Word Hospitality (Red Dog Saloon, Found Oyster) — I feel her lists are unimaginable. She actually walks that line of specializing in small producers farming the appropriate means, however who nonetheless make traditional wines, with good ethical ethics behind them. I’d be remiss not to point out Cristie Norman, as she’s one of essentially the most spectacular folks within the Los Angeles wine neighborhood. She began the United Sommeliers Foundation and created the LA Wine Community, with weekly tastings and a job board. She’s younger, she cares a lot, I can’t say sufficient good issues about her.
One of essentially the most secret, underrated applications is Rachel Grisafi at Antico Nuovo. It’s the very best Italian wine record on the town. And, of course, Sarah Clark who runs this system for Republique and Bicyclette; she was my mentor at Mozza. A well-known Napa winemaker instructed me they thought Sarah is the very best sommelier working the ground in America. She’s best-in-class and best-in-the-city.
This interview is condensed for readability.