This former Miss USA is on a mission to change the way the world consumes alcohol.
According to Forbes, Nana Meriwether is the founder of Cale, a wellness company focused on alcoholic alternatives, making wine out of herbs.
Her journey as a winemaker and business owner first started in 2017 after a doctor visit revealed that she was about to be pre-diabetic.
This led her to create a blog where she could be transparent about the trip to the doctor that changed her life. There she spoke about practices like yoga and medication and also researched and wrote about the dangers of sugar and the proper way to eat.
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In 2018, Meriwether took a trip to Costa Rica where she stayed on a permaculture farm called Punta Mona. It was there that she learned about the field of herbalism — an ancient study of healing plants, botanicals, and herbs.
It was this trip that ignited a new fire! She returned to her home in New York and began an apprenticeship with an herbalist.
“At the same time, I wasn’t drinking as much anymore because I was looking to improve my health,” said Meriwether.”And there were no adult options back then to fill the tablespace. So I would end up drinking soda water with lime, or I would bend over and drink a few glasses of wine and feel bad in the morning.”
She then realized that she could provide a solution — drink options for people like herself who want to keep their health intact.
“I realized that there was an opportunity here to create a lower alcohol adult drink that would be complementary to my wellness lifestyle,” continued Meriwether. “And it’s Cale.”
As a nod to the vegetable kale, Cale was born and she moved from her tiny kitchen in New York to her mother’s kitchen in Maryland.
While working full-time at a software company, she began to use half of every paycheck to go toward bringing her business to fruition.
By January 2020, she was approached by a large liquor and spirits company that wanted to support her in financing her business. However, COVID-19 had other plans.
“They cut my funding. It was a really, really dark time,” shared Meriwether. “There aren’t many African American winemakers, period. And when I lost that funding, I could have easily stopped building, but I kept going.”
Meriwether decided to continue to self-finance her business. She ultimately sold her apartment in NYC, and headed to California where she resided with friends and family to save funds as she worked to get her business off the ground.
Thanks to grants received in summer 2020, her first product, Hibiscus Pinto Noir, was developed.
Each wine that she designs is infused with adaptogens, organic herbs, wine grape varietals, and plants. They are also low in alcohol with only 4.5 ABV.
To learn more about Cale and to get your hands on a bottle of wine, click here.