Welcome to ON BEAUTY, a monthly feature highlighting creative, like-minded people who inspire us.
Where there is rosé, there is connection and that rings true for the mother-daughter duo and cofounders of Lorenza, Michèle Ouellet and Melinda Kearney.
But before rosé became a mainstream drink of choice, Michèle and Melinda were bonding over the acquired taste back in 2008, when Lorenza first launched. Melinda comes from a storied 30-year career in food and wine in Napa. So when Michèle, who at 15 was traveling the world as a model, came back from Paris and sang the delectable pink wine its praises, they realized their shared love of the beverage. Together they decided to embark on a journey crafting dry provençal rosé that would keep them connected while working in nature.
And although, since 2008, a handful of rosé companies have stumbled onto the scene, Lorenza differentiates themselves by solely focusing on a single varietal, a California rosé made with intention. Beauty, harmony, and balance are the hallmark of the brand and for Michèle and Melinda, Lorenza rosé is their medium of spreading joy and love.<
Here, Michèle and Melinda reveal their go-to rosé rituals, why older vines are key to their process, their unique take on food and wine pairings, and their beautiful working relationship.
An important part of business and any relationship is being okay with having your own opinion.
You talk a lot about intentional rosé. What does that mean to Lorenza?
Melinda: There are different ways to make rosé and the way we make it is that we grow the grapes, we pick the grapes, and we make the wine specifically for Rosé. To make rosé, you need red grapes, at least the way we make it. You can also blend red and white wine, but the traditional way is squeezing or light pressing red grapes and the color comes from the skin. The flavor profile that we love is very fresh, light, delicate, vibrant, and full of acid. We accomplish this by picking early in August when the grapes are less ripe, so there’s less sugar, which converts into lower alcohol. So basically, everything’s formed around us making rosé.
Wine is muddy when it comes to certifications, organic, biodynamic, etc. How would you describe Lorenza?
Michèle: The terminology is kind of confusing and vague and means different things to different people. So with Lorenza, we are sustainably farmed and we work with really old vines. We’re in the process of working with all organic vineyard sources. It’s a longer process, but we are 100% sustainable at this point and are looking to increase our organic growth.
Melinda: The growers that we’re working with are traditional growers. They are coming into the awareness that organic is preferable and it’s very much important to us. It’s a mindset and a process and it’s something that we care about deeply and we’re willing to make the commitment to a few years of evolution.
What’s the significance of working with older vines?
Melinda: Older vines are really stable. They’ve been through a hundred harvests and they do not react as dramatically to variations in the growing season. We’ve been part a of these vineyards for over 10 years and old vines bring longer aging and more complexity and more layers.
Michèle: Also, the grape varieties we are using are grenache, mourvèdre, carignan, and cinsaut, and they are not the most widely planted in California. We are happy to buy the fruit from these farmers and encourage them to continue farming these varieties that you don’t see every day.
How is it working together being mother and daughter? Melinda: It’s such a wonderful thing.
Michèle: We love it. Many people say, I don’t think I could work with my mom and I feel the opposite. I don’t know how I would work with anyone else. We’ve been doing it for such a long time and our company is very small, so we both wear a lot of hats. Over the years, we have made a real focused effort to build boundaries between our work-life balance. We also have daily Lorenza meetings, so we’re in constant communication.
Right now, we’re working on being okay with disagreeing with each other, which is usually over small details. Both my mom and I are pretty conflict-averse. An important part of business and any relationship is being okay with having your own opinion.
Melinda: Fortunately, we have a lot of similar opinions. Often we say we have the same brain, but it’s also really dynamic. Michèle is from a different generation and her input is extremely necessary for us to continue to compete in this marketplace and in these times.
Michèle: The counterbalance to my perspective is my mom’s 30 plus years of expertise in fine wine marketing. So she really knows the ins and outs of how to properly create and market a wine brand. It’s really important to have that foundation and then we can get creative and play with all different things.
I love cooking for friends or family, setting the table, and making it really beautiful. That is how I express love and give energy to people. So dinnertime is special and of course, with dinner is wine.
Drinking wine is very ritualistic. What is the meaning of ritual in terms of wine for you both?
Melinda: We have some rituals that pertain to Lorenza and that is through the fermentation process, documenting the differences that happen and how the aromas and the flavors change. If Michèle is not in town, I will text her we will taste through the images of the wine and the descriptors. It’s very much a tradition that we have. It’s also really necessary to get to know the tanks and the flavors because in the end, we will be writing notes and it informs crafting the blend.
Michèle: There are also rituals of enjoying Lorenza too. We have our spritz in a can, which we sip more as an apéritif or make our own cocktails. What grounds me and makes me feel really secure is dinnertime. I love cooking for friends or family, setting the table, and making it really beautiful. That is how I express love and give energy to people. So dinnertime is special and of course, with dinner is wine.
Melinda: We both care a lot about glassware. Part of the ritual of opening up a bottle is selecting a glass and it can look like anything. But it’s kind of a reflection of how you feel that day.
Michèle: We’re not snobs about glassware. We don’t think you need to go and spend a bunch of money on fancy glasses. It’s just having fun and like my mom said, it’s a good reflection of how you’re feeling.
Melinda: I also have people choose their glass. What kind of mood are you in?
Do you have a favorite meal that you like to pair with Lorenza?
Michèle: The thing with dry rosé like Lorenza with that bright acidity and really nice balanced fruit is that it goes with literally everything. But that’s the joy of Lorenza, is that you don’t need to get too caught up on this is the only one that you can drink with this dish. Have fun, put this on the table, it’s going to go great with everything.
My favorite thing to make at home and to drink with Lorenza is spaghetti alla vongole. It’s spaghetti with clams. Also, have you ever had a spicy crab lemon and chili pasta? That’s something I’ve had a lot in London and Australia. It’s not on menus that much in America, but if you ever see it at a restaurant, definitely order it, but it’s not too hard to make yourself.
Melinda: One thing that I like to do if I’m off the rails is take off my shoes and socks and stand in the grass in the backyard and try to breathe. That is an incredibly grounding thing to do. The last couple of weekends, I have been going to a floating sound meditation. It includes crystal bowls and for an hour, I’m floating in this warm water and the crystal bowls are attuned to the chakra. It’s the most amazing, magical thing.
Also, fresh flowers next to my bed with a crystal is another ritual. Roses are really special. Their geometries are so perfect and infinite.
Michèle: When you’re on a photoshoot, you normally eat breakfast at work. During COVID, I have not been shooting as much and we have been working very hard on Lorenza. But sometimes, that gets me at my desk and I don’t leave until 4:00 pm and I’m starving and it’s a hangry disaster. So I started cooking myself a proper breakfast in the morning. It’s a classic avocado toast, maybe some scrambled eggs, and a cup of English breakfast tea. And it makes me really happy. I feel like I’m taking care of myself and I know that if I don’t eat enough in the morning, I get into the worst mood and it’s preventable. I also love Kundalini yoga. I got an infrared blanket during COVID and that has been a game-changer. And if I ever need a pick me up, I jump into the blanket and put on an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I’m really sensitive to scent and it can’t be manufactured. It has to be pure.
Melinda: I love rose, especially rose sprays. I’m really sensitive to scent and it can’t be manufactured. It has to be pure.
Michele: Being in the wine business, our noses are trained. I, of course, love rose. But growing up with my mom, she always had lavender around. I wouldn’t say I liked it when I was a kid, but now I love lavender. I find it really soothing and it reminds me of home and growing up. I’m also a into fresh flowers, which is usually roses.
Tips for long haul flights?
Michèle: Compression socks. And I’m totally shameless. I’ll do a sheet mask on the plane. Podcasts. Noise-canceling headphones. And I like to chill out. I don’t do much work on planes. It’s some of the only hours that I have that are not on set or running to this or that. So I take it as my chill-out time and watch movies and relax.
Melinda: I always feel that if you can spritz your face with just a little water or rose water, your face ends up in better shape. It’s less depleted.
Favorite beauty food?
Melinda: One thing I really love is ginger and lemon in my chicken soup. It’s so soothing and invigorating and it feels so healthy to me. Squeeze the lemon in the bottom of your bowl before you put the chicken in and incorporate the ginger into the broth while you’re cooking.
Michele: I really love hot water with lemon in the morning. I don’t do it every morning, but I can really feel when my body wants that. I’m also such a salad girl. I like a really crunchy salad with spicy arugula, avocado, chickpeas, and radishes and all kinds of stuff. That always makes me feel really, really good.
What’s your vice?
Melinda: I love Dinoci Espresso Chip Almond dessert. It is absolutely killer. Also, The New York Times Spelling Bee. I’m totally addicted to it.
Michèle: I don’t think of anything that I really love as a vice. Great food and wine feels so good and so nourishing. That being said, I’m a big carbs girl. It’s not about the sweet tooth for me. I like pasta, fries, pizza, that kind of thing. That’s heaven. I do think it’s good to keep that stuff balanced.
Do you have any charms or talismans?
Michèle: My friend Lily Ashwell gave me this tiny rose quartz carved angel a few years ago when I was going through a breakup and she gave it to me before I got on a flight. So that’s been in my bag forever. Whenever I see it, I think of her.
Also, there are these jelly cat stuffed animal bunnies for kids and they’re the softest, cuddliest stuffed animals. A few years ago, I was walking by a chic kid’s shop and bought one. If I’m ever feeling a little fragile, I’ll sleep with one of those. I also give them to friends if they’re going through tough times.
Melinda: I still have my very first crystal. Someone gave it to me and I carry that around a lot. Sometimes I’ll put it in my car or put it in my bag when I travel. We’ve had to evacuate due to the fires, so I think about what are the things that we really love in our lives and would put in a bag and throw them in our car and go. There’s this beautiful bronze sculpture of a baby goat I have. This to me, is something I love to touch and it’s just so beautiful. It’s so heavy and it’s really special.