Who would’ve thought that an all-star lineup of women making their mark on LA’s growing wine scene would be the city’s best kept secret? Conveniently located between Santa Barbara, Temecula Valley, and Baja Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe, the greater LA area has become a hotbed for innovative wine concepts. But unfortunately, like most other industries, women have to work (at least) twice as hard as their male counterparts to gain the recognition they deserve.
It’s a story Kristin Olszewski, founder of canned wine label Nomadica and Wine Director at Gigi’s, knows all too well. After completing her undergrad in Sustainable Agriculture, Creative Writing, and Women, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and Sexuality Studies, Kristin snagged a job at Saison, a three-star Michelin restaurant in San Francisco with a 131-page wine list. It wasn’t long before Kristin fell head-first in love with wine, deciding to drop out of her pre-med program at Harvard to pursue becoming a sommelier instead. She worked her way up at some of the most acclaimed restaurants across the country (Osteria Mozza in LA, Husk in Nashville, and Straight Wharf in Nantucket to name a few), before pivoting in a direction that even 2020 couldn’t have predicted by founding LA’s newest and most inspired canned wine label.
Kristin admits that it took a while for the idea of quality wine in a can to appeal to her. In the end, it was Nomadica co-founder Emma Toshack (though she’s currently no longer with the operation) who finally endeared her to the idea.
“At first I was like, ew, canned wine is disgusting,” Kristin recalled. “So Emma stalked my IG to find out what I liked, canned a small-batch of pinot noir, brought it to me to taste, and even though I wanted to hate it, it was actually really good!”
And of course, with her experience as a sommelier, Kristin knew exactly where to source her wine from and how to set Nomadica apart. At minimum, all Nomadica wines are sustainably farmed, with absolutely no chemical intervention, no added sulfur at canning, and limited-edition, super-small productions from cult winemakers, single vineyards, and old vines.
It helps that Nomadica is perhaps the perfect pandemic product, with each wine release providing a complete sensory experience on par with a tasting one might expect from a winery.
As Kristin explains, “Because I don’t have the ability to talk to each customer, we thought that we would communicate the flavor profiles through art and play a little bit on synesthesia, which is also where the playlists come in. Not only do you see this piece of art on the can that is communicating what the wine tastes like, we also have playlists composed by various DJs and musicians to take that even further.”
Thus far, Nomadica has released four wines—a red blend, Pink River Rosé, a sparking white, and a sparkling rosé—that can be ordered separately or in an “Adventure Pack” on their website. There’s also the option to join Club Nomadica, as a monthly or quarterly member and gain access to more limited edition releases, plus virtual tastings with Kristin, and the ability to text her as your personal sommelier. The March release for Club Nomadica members is a 100% organic Chardonnay from Castoro Cellars in California’s Central Coast that features moody, surrealist artwork by Brazilian digital artist, Bruno Baraldi.
At the end of this month, Nomadica will release a special can in collaboration with Bâtonnage Forum, which typically hosts an annual forum of conversations with women in wine, but this year shifted to a mentorship program that takes those conversations one step further by creating equitable solutions for those who identify as women in the wine industry. Kristin is participating as a mentor in the program and all proceeds from the can will benefit the mentorship program. The can will also be served during brunch at Gigi’s.