Nomadica founder Emma Toshack is changing wine culture one can at a time
By Shanee Edwards
Emma Toshack refers to herself as “the cute, entrepreneurial housewife.” She certainly is that, but don’t let her diminutive self-ascribed title fool you. This Aussie transplant is shaking up the American wine market in a very millennial way.
Until now, Toshack’s career has been a bit like wine tasting at a global vineyard. At first, law school in Sydney seemed too dry for her taste; she preferred the earthy aroma of riding and training dressage horses. When that career seemed to literally have too many legs, she returned to law school to finish her glass. Her curious palate led her to open a restaurant, then work at The Boston Consulting Group before getting her MBA at Harvard Business School. A job at Snapchat caused her to take a big sip of Playa Vista. She liked the taste and settled in.
One of her favorite aspects of living in Playa Vista is its close proximity to the ocean. On warm days, Toshack often found herself pouring her favorite, high-end wine into an empty Pellegrino can for trips to the beach.
And just like that, she uncorked the idea for Nomadica.
“Nomadica started from this mythical place where nomads go to drink wine while they’re traveling,” she explains. “The idea is to conjure this place where you go to try new things and it’s all about art and adventure and experimentation. You can be nomadic with it, because you can take it anywhere — but it’s also taking you places.”
According to a 2016 report in Wine Spectator magazine, millennials drank about 42% of all wine consumed in the U.S. the previous year. But millennials aren’t just drinking more wine than any other generation, they’re changing the way it’s marketed and sold. Despite having been around for centuries, Toshack thinks the old-fashioned wine bottle is a dusty relic from the past.
“The wine industry has always found itself in a bit of a no man’s land between being very true to the heritage of old Europe and trying to embrace the future. It struggled, in my opinion, to figure out the quality angle on the future side of saying, ‘Look, you can be a cool lifestyle brand that’s still quality wine and not have to look like an old, European bottle-style label.’”
She says premium boxed wine is popular in Europe, but it never took off in the in the U.S.
“No one here has been able to crack it. That doesn’t mean it’s not crack-able, it just means the market is a little bit different. No one here ever made boxed wine cool. The perception is that it’s poor quality, but it doesn’t have to be.”
Toshack wanted high-quality wines “made in a really genuine way” — in other words, sourced from exceptional wine makers around the globe and curated by respectable sommeliers — “but in a package that’s really convenient and doesn’t break. That you can take to the beach, sneak into the back of an Uber or a movie theater or whatever.”
But it’s not just the quality of the wine inside that’s important to Toshack. The whole package should be an experience, which in 2017 means it has to be Instagrammable.
From a lush jungle scene on a can of an Oregon white blend to a watercolor hummingbird on a can of sparkling white, the name and Insta handle of the artist who created it is right on the label, encouraging the buyer to seek out a larger experience by engaging with the artist online.
“If you like the brand, the label, the art, you’re more likely to try it,” she says.
So far, the wine is available on the Nomadica website, select retail stores, and various hotels and bars around Southern California, including HiLo in Culver City and Neuehouse in Hollywood.
Toshack also sets up shop at music festivals and private events, including Levi’s Infamous Haus and a fundraiser at film producer Jill Solloway’s home. She recently purchased a refurbished vintage airstream for the wine to travel across the country.
At the Planned Parenthood Food Fair in Santa Monica last March, it was stroller moms and soccer moms who expressed their enthusiasm.
“One even told me canned wine is the best thing for Saturday morning soccer games ever,” says Toshack. “I was like, ‘Cheers to you ladies.’”
As Nomadica takes off, Toshack has big plans, including “an urban tasting room with rooms designed around the artwork,” she says. The company is also collaborating with deejays to create playlists for each of the wines, turning Nomadica into a true lifestyle brand.
Between the flavor notes, musical playlists and the portable pop-top package with gorgeous labels, the idea is that Nomadica drinkers are getting more than a glass of wine — they’re getting an entire experience. And isn’t that what being a millennial is all about?
Visit nomadica.wine or follow @nomadica on Instagram to keep up with Nomadica Wine events and new product releases.