Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Zimmitti.
Jeff, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started paying attention to wine in the mid-Nineties. As a touring musician (in my previous life) I got to tour and see the world. And in those travels I learned to love the “eat and drink local” concept. And when you say local, in Europe, that means what grows and is produced nearby. That concept has really crept into the American psyche in the last few years but 20+ years ago that really wasn’t the case here. I am decidedly self-taught in wine. I did take some continuing education wine classes and completed a culinary program in 2005 but there is no substitute for experience. There is only so much you can read, you have to do. And in 2006, after doing quite a bit of due diligence and writing a thorough business plan I stumbled upon the space where Rosso Wine Shop is currently. Without any prior business experience, I jumped right in. Eleven years later and I still love it.
Has it been a smooth road?
Smooth. Ha! That word does not exist in the small business lexicon. You have to keep your foot on the gas at all times. And just about everything has to go your way just to survive. In Los Angeles a person can buy wine on every street corner. Oh yea, struggles; dealing with bureaucracy to open, finding your audience, finding money when your cash flow sucks, hoping you have a great landlord when you enter into your lease, building relationships with your supply chain to get good service… running a small business is one big, beautiful struggle. I wish I could say it was a bowl of cherries, but it’s not. You have to love what you do or you will soon realize that you lack the stamina to continue. Dig in. Believe in what you do. And have friends with money.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Rosso Wine Shop – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Rosso Wine Shop is an independent wine shop that specializes in small production but affordable wines. We strive to keep customer service and wine expertise in the front of our mind. We taste the bad wines so you don’t have to. There are thousands of wines out there and we are here to help. I wanted to start a neighborhood shop to keep alive that spirit of a local merchant who has a passion in their chosen field. Just like it used to be before malls and super stores. Our wine selections are divided by country, region, type and price, like a restaurant wine list. I have maps that I have illustrated on all of the walls along with images from those regions to give people a sense of place. We play good music and talk wine all day long. What is there not to like?
Favorite childhood memory?
Going to my first rock concert at age twelve. My parents took me to see Kiss with Judas Priest opening. Awesome. It was loud. Intense. And I completely lost myself in the moment, until a stranger passed a joint to us, and I looked at my parents. Just kidding, they turned it down, of course. I was twelve.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Likes: Los Angeles has so many options; you can go to the beach and hit the ski slopes in the same day. We have art, music, a thriving restaurant scene, parks, and the sun, a good majority of the time. And believe me L.A.-transplants, you won’t miss the seasons.
Least like: too many people. I’m sure everyone says that but it’s true. If there were less people we always say everything in L.A. is 20 minutes away.