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Michele Ouellet

A conversation about wine, Gisele, and Cool Runnings. 

MONOGRAM: List your name, profession, and place of residence:

MICHELE LORENZA OUELLET, model and vintner, Brooklyn, NY.

MONOGRAM: Between both your professions, and as seen on your Instagram, you’re constantly traveling! How many countries did you visit last year? Any idea how many days you were away from home?

MICHELE: Wow! I don't even want to try to count the days away from home, so let's go with countries…ten! Doesn't actually sound like that many, but I definitely doubled down on a few of these. New to the list are South Africa, Antigua, and Bolivia.

MONOGRAM: Speaking of home, you grew up in Napa, so we can assume wine was part of your life from a young age.  How did the idea to start Lorenza Rosé come about?

MICHELE: I spent my summers as a teen living in Paris when I just started modeling. I definitely enjoyed a glass or two of French rosé! I wrote my mom back in CA saying 'I love rosé!'. Like any good mom, she voiced her concern for my underage drinking, but being a rosé lover herself, had an idea for the future that we'd make rosé together. When we started the brand in 2008, we saw a gap in the market for dry, delicate rosé from CA. Most of our favorites came from Provence, so we studied them and wanted to source the same grapes in CA. We work with very old vines from Lodi and they produce a gorgeous, dry, true rosé just like we loved from France. 

MONOGRAM: Tell us something most people don’t know about producing wine. Any challenges, tricks of the trade, or insider secrets?

MICHELE: We don't crush the grapes with our feet!! Rosé is not red and white grapes mixed - it's made from red grapes that are harvested early (in our case) and pressed gently. When buying rosé, I look at the color. I go for light, petal pink, copper, or salmon color. With a few exceptions, I think the color indicates the flavor of the wine, and light, delicate pink is what I want to drink! Also check out the alcohol content. Usually if it's under 12% it will be dry and not too sweet.

MONOGRAM: What’s the most overused word in describing wine?

MICHELE: Sweet. It's probably the most accessible 'tasting word' for most people, but I'm guessing half don't really mean it. Sweet is a dirty word in the rosé biz. We're all about dry, crisp, rosé to make your mouth water!

MONOGRAM: And what’s the most overused word in modeling?

MICHELE: Cute! 

MONOGRAM: What are your top 3-5 go-to wines?

MICHELE: Here it goes...
Massican Annia - delicious, crisp white made from Italian varietals grown in CA
Vermillion Grenache - my house red!
Billecart Salmon Rosé champagne - cannot go wrong
Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon Beaujolais 

MONOGRAM: Who’s your all-time number one model? Your gold standard?

MICHELE: Gisele baby! Met her once on Cinco de Mayo at La Esquina and it was life changing. 

MONOGRAM: Do you see any crossover between wine and modeling in terms of the business side of each?

MICHELE: The way wine is sold is basically the same as going on castings. I find wine appointments more personal and intimate than castings actually. I'm more used to being judged off my looks by strangers or casting directors than trying to sell wine. Thankfully, Lorenza is delicious and has been very well received, but I take it more personally if we don't make a sale than I would if a casting didn't work out. Thinking that through and writing this now reminds me, it's all the same. Sometimes you're perfect for a job, sometimes the wine list is just waiting for Lorenza. It might take time, it might never happen, but I'm proud of our product and comfortable in my own skin. It's the same concept - filling a role while being authentic.

MONOGRAM: You have an incredible wardrobe - and probably the biggest t-shirt collection I’ve ever seen. Which one is your favorite? How and when did you acquire it?

MICHELE: Thanks! I probably should narrow them down a little, but I can't really bear to part with them! My favorite is a bright red t-shirt with Cool Runnings Jamaica on it! I think I found it at 10 ft Single years ago. Still perfect, still my favorite. The red is so nice and saturated, and the fabric so soft. 

MONOGRAM: What’s your favorite way to style a t-shirt?

MICHELE: I love lil mini skirts! Show off some leg and downplay with a cool T! Pair with Vans or Newbark loafers. Flats forever. 

MONOGRAM: Lightening round: describe yourself in terms of the following…

COLOR: Sparkle Rainbow
ERA: The future
FETISH: Champagne
SYMBOL: Star
LOCATION: Floating in water, preferably Ibiza or my family's lake house in Minnesota  
OBJECT: A tropical plant
BEVERAGE: Obviously Lorenza Rosé! Also very very into sparkling water, negronis, and kombucha.
VEHICLE: Dream car is Mercedes 300 SL Gulwing. HOT.
RITUAL: Cooking or dancing or both
TAGLINE: I love you!!! 

PHOTOGRAPHY: Clement Pascal