It wasn’t a straight path that brought Donna Rossiter into the world of natural wines. A circuitous route carried her out of London in 2008, where she worked in marketing for close to a decade, then to India, where she led a yoga-centric lifestyle. Next she landed in Bali, where she ran a yoga studio and clothing line with her husband. Eventually she ended up in the Bay Area, where she fell head over heels into natural wine and she hasn’t come up for air since. “I was looking for something in wine that I just was never finding until I started drinking natural wine,” Rossiter says.
The deep interest that led her across the world pursuing a career in yoga now fuels her burgeoning natural wine business, Wild Things Wine, which grew out of a wine club she started for friends during the pandemic. Really, all Rossiter wanted to do was share her love of wine with others, but as word of mouth spread, she began adding more and more subscribers. Eventually it became a proper business, with Rossiter selling natural wine online and personally shuttling bottles to homes across the East Bay. Rossiter officially started the online wine shop with a friend who was part of the wine club, but when she had to drop out as the world began opening back up, Rossiter took over and grew the business further.
Buying wine from Rossiter is akin to asking your close, most experimental, best friend for a recommendation. Rather than tangling with a larger, faceless, corporation and the labyrinth of customer service at a larger wine seller, Rossiter is often behind the keyboard (or texts and DMs on Instagram) interacting with customers and following up with questions on how they liked their purchases, in order to direct them to their next wine discovery. “The wines that you find in natural wine stores or online natural wine stores or natural wine clubs, they don’t fall into those classic categories of wine,” Rossiter says. “So even if you do have a certification or you’re a sommelier, or you understand everything about all the different grades and all the different regions and all the different styles of wine, this is going to be different.”
Through friends in the wine business, including one at Jenny & Francois Selections in New York, Rossiter has worked to hone in her personal style of wine buying and recommending. In her online shop, you’ll find an array of wines: local selections from Richmond’s Purity Wine or Somerset’s La Clarine Farm and Jolie-Laide in Sebastopol. Others come from much further afield, such as Pheasant’s Tears Winery in Georgia or Matic Wines in Slovenia. She has an admitted soft spot for Italian wines, picked up from a friend whose family would crush grapes from Southern Italy and turn it into wine in their North London basement. “That’s pretty much as natural as wine can get just wine that’s made in someone’s basement,” she says. She often has Italian wines from Collecapretta, Frank Cornelissen, Fongolli, Meinklang Wine from Austria, and Raimones Wine from Spain.
In the spirit of continuing to share her love of wine, Rossiter has taken to conducting wine tastings for groups, bringing a selection of wines to people’s homes and leading them through a guided tour. With each order or wine subscription, she’ll offer tasting notes and background on the winemakers, as well as some food pairing ideas to enhance the wine drinking experience — just another personal touch Rossiter adds to her wine shop. “What I enjoy is, I love curating wine for people, I love building connections,” Rossiter says. “It’s a conversation.”