This past Thursday I was able to get inside the beautiful mind of garagiste and chef, Ms. India Ramos. Her effervescent personality and passion for her crafts radiates through her voice and conveys the love that she has for what she does. This Queens, New York born Trinidadian brain and beauty truly embodies the phase, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”.
EwE: How did Urban Vines start?
CIR: While living in Florida, around late 2007 early 2008, the idea for Urban Vines was born. I started as a hobbyist wine maker. My father is a wine maker as well as chef and I was never really interested in it as a young girl. As I got older and became more of a foodie I decided to try my hand at cheffing and wine making. With the idea of wanting to make this ideal into a reality, I moved to Atlanta in 2009. I met Rachelle Lovett through a mutual friend and she instantly became a friend and the driving force behind the food aspect. I was more focused on the wines and did not consider myself as a chef at that time. She became that friend that supported and helped me with branding and marketing. The passion that she exuded was on such a level that you would have thought this brand was her own. That passion transitioned her from being just a friend but to my business partner. For the past couple of years we have been pushing Urban Vines and all that it entails. I know that is a long story but that is how Urban Vines was born.
EwE: What was the turning point that made you realize that you were a chef?
CIR: Urban Vines started to do events that incorporated both food and wine. It was theHarvest event November 2011 that I decided to cook all the foods for the event – five courses with wine pairings. Seeing the reactions from the attendees and noticing they were enjoying both the wine AND food made me realize at that moment I really needed to focus on developing myself as a chef.
EwE: How was the ideal of food, wine and music formed to create the Food Club?
CIR: From the City Harvest event on we planned many events that birthed the FoodClub. The Food Club fused our love for food, wine and all genres of music. In the beginning, we would take over someone’s kitchen for the host/hostess and ten of their friends with us footing the expense. We showcased two to three small tasting plates with wine, of course. Our spin on this was featuring local DJs and artist or inviting local artist to friendly cyphers all while enjoying good foods and great wine. The Food Club has grown from gatherings of ten in someone’s home to monthly venues hosting on average of 150.
EwE: With your in-depth knowledge and experiences with wines, what is a good red and
white wine to recommend to a newbie wine drinker?
CIR: A new wine drinker typically does not like the drier white or red wines right awayfrom a palette perspective. Those bolder tastes are something wine drinkers haveto work their way up to. Fruit infused wines are a great way to broaden a palette.Currently, Urban Vines has a peach apricot chardonnay. Chardonnay is not a varietal that someone typically orders when broadening their wine palette.However, when you say peach apricot chardonnay, people are more apt to try it. In more generic terms, I would introduce a newbie wine drinker to a Riesling because this varietal can range from sweet to dry. To shake things up a bit and throw in a wild card, I would offer a Gewürztraminer or a Viognier. These are very bright wines that can be on a sweeter side that someone new to wines would enjoy. As far as red wine, its my recommendation to introduce a smoother, lighter wine like a shirazor a pinot noir.
EwE: What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of?
CIR: What I am most proud of is the feedback from people who have had the pleasure of partaking in our Urban Vines experience. We really have advocates and brand ambassadors that praise us and the brand. We’ve achieved so much through brand recognition and exposure without the winery and restaurant being open and the breadth and depth of our supporters and fans without this is astounding and something I am very proud of.
Chef India Ramos is definitely a force to be reckoned with. This skilled mover and shaker within the culinary and winery worlds has her sights set in making Urban Vines more than a brand but a lifestyle. Soon to be breaking glass ceilings by opening the first micro-winery in Atlanta…add to that the first owned and operated by an African American woman in this metro area, Chef Ramos is on the fast track to setting a precedent for restaurateurs world wide. Be sure to follow this amazing woman on Twitter @UrbanVinesWC, Facebook @UrbanVines and be sure to visit her website www.urbanvineswc.com to stay on top of all that is Urban Vines.