Real Housewives of New York’s Ramona Singer Offers Wine and Wisdom
The high-octane housewife talks with The Daily Beast’s Stacey Grenrock Woods about her double life as a vintner and vixen.
While fans of this season’s Real Housewives of New York City anxiously watch forces align against her for what looks like a huge blow-up brewing in St. Barts, boisterous, bug-eyed Ramona Singer is enjoying a break from her job as America’s favorite wine-soaked agitator. Relaxing in the Hamptons, and fresh off a string of “wine signings” to promote the newest vintage of her eponymous pinot grigio, she spoke briefly and erratically between her many recreations.
Ramona, it’s a pleasure to speak to you. How are you enjoying your vacation?
You know what? I am. As soon as I stopped filming, I started going nationwide, visiting different major cities with my pinot grigio, making wine signing appearances. I actually said, I have to block off three weeks, because sometimes as women—being a mother, being a businesswoman, being a TV personality, being entrepreneurial—you kind of burn yourself at both ends.
How’s the wine? Selling well?
It’s doing really, really well. Just the stores near me, if they have eight pinot grigios, mine’s the number third or fourth seller, which is excellent.
Could you describe Ramona Pinot Grigio in a few words?
Easy to drink, easy to drink.
Easy to drink?
Easy to drink. Basically, it has some pear notes to it. The last note is smooth, without any bite, without any acidic or tannins. A lot of times, these wines, you need food to have it because you just can’t drink it alone because you need something to finish it off. My wine, it goes with anything.
How has the wine world—
I really like it because I like learning about new things, especially things that I’m passionate about. And by doing this wine, I’m learning more and more about wines. That’s what I like about the wine world, is that I’m being educated to more different types of wine from different countries.
Why did you decide to release your own wine?
I produced my own wine because I couldn’t find a pinot grigio that I loved. From watching the show you know I don’t do anything half-assed. I’m very black, I’m very white, there’s nothing gray about me. I’d go to my local liquor store and say, Okay, give me another pinot grigio, I’m sick of this one. And my husband said, "Why don’t you just develop your own?" So I did.
How is Mario?
Mario is great. He is the most supportive husband any woman could have. I married him because he’s just so easygoing. He didn’t know if he was going to take [his vacation] this week or the following week, and I said, Mario, can you tell me what week because I want to go out one or two of the nights for girls’ night dinner in the Hamptons, and I want to plan ahead. And he says, "Listen Ramona, even if I take off this week, go ahead, you can go out with the girls, I don’t care." That’s how easygoing he is.
One of the reasons I think we’re happily married 20 years is that he’s always allowed me to be me. He’s not controlling.
Well, that’s nice.
I have some girlfriends that tell me that as soon as their husband walks through the door they’ve got to get off the phone. Mario’s very easygoing. That’s my point.
So this season—
He’s supportive of everything I do.
He’s supportive of everything you do. So, this season—
And he’s very proud of everything I’ve done.
He gets a kick out of me. He allows me to be me.
Is there anything you do that he doesn’t like? Like the way you act in public?
No. I mean, he’s there when I do these wine signings. Women of all ages are there and these girls who are 21 and up are like, Oh my gosh Ramona, we admire you so much, we want a husband like Mario, we want to have it all like you do. You have a great daughter, you have a great husband, you have, you know, a great way of being.
Well, great. So this season of the show: Aviva, Carole, and Heather. Do you think they brought on new people to clash with you?
Who did I clash with? I did not clash with Aviva. I did not clash with Carole. The only person I clashed with was Heather.
Talk about Heather.
I think Heather and I are very strong, independent women, and actually, on paper, I thought we would probably get along the best, but initially we got along the worst.
I felt her being fake and phony. That’s how I felt. Now, she might not have been that way with anyone else, but I’m a pretty good reader of people, and that’s how she was with me.
What do you think that’s about?
No. 1, she’d never filmed before for a TV show and it could be that she was uncomfortable and couldn’t be natural. And because I didn’t really know her before the show, I could read her unnaturalness and her uncomfortableness and I took that for phoniness and fakeness. Does that make sense?
I think so, but do you think it’s possible that she just didn’t like you?
I really can’t analyze it. I think I am a good reader of people. I’m very straightforward. I don’t pull any punches. She pretended she had a different feeling for me to my face than she did behind my back. Does that make sense?
I guess. Were you insulted that Sonja asked Heather for help with her toaster-oven business and not you?
No, I wasn’t insulted. I mean, I’m a successful businesswoman, Heather’s a successful businesswoman. To tell you the truth, I don’t think mixing business with pleasure is good. It’s one thing to ask me for advice, but to have me do something full-time as a project, it just gets murky. I’d rather just come in as an advisory point of view. Does that make sense?
It does. So, you’re watching the show for the first time when it airs and you’re seeing what your castmates say about you in their interviews—
Yeah, I hate that part. When I see these things in the interviews about me, it’s like, Holy shit!
When you’re watching the show and you’re seeing what everybody else is saying, what bothers you most?
I have to say, I’m kind of like a dichotomy there: I have a thick skin, but I get hurt easy. It’s hard to really say because I grew up with a lot of crap, so things just kind of roll off me. I can’t take things too seriously. I roll with it, and you go on. Aviva was trying to be my BFF, and all of a sudden she turned on me in St. Barts for really no valid reason, and that kind of hurt me.
Does that happen often? People turning on you?
Some people seem really sweet and nice in the beginning, and then you get to know them and you realize they have a lot of psychological problems.
Why are people always getting on your case?
I don’t know, you tell me. I mean, I’m definitely a very strong woman. I’m very emotional but I have a heart of gold, but if someone pushes me against a corner, sometimes I lash back.
You’ve described your cast mates as “not true friends” and “women who don’t care for” you.
You’re only seeing one part of me. Number one, I have such a close relationship with my daughter Avery to the point where other moms have commented, I hope I have that with my daughter, or, How do you have that? They’ve yet to show the way I am with my daughter, that love and warmth and bond on the show, it’s major.
Why do you think you were saved when some of your cast mates were fired?
It’s really funny in life, and I tell my daughter this and I give this advice to all people who want to know what to do in business and life: you can’t look behind you or to the left or the right, only stay to your own course. I don’t think about why this one and why that one. I just know I’m on my course, I know what I’m doing, I’m true to myself. I’m not a phony, I don’t act for the cameras, I’m just me.
I notice people use words like “unfiltered” to describe you. On last night’s episode, Heather called you “difficult,” “out of line,” and “unfiltered” in one sentence.
I don’t think I’m difficult at all. I’m very strong-minded and I know what I want and I know what I like and I know what works. When I was looking for apartments—multimillion-dollar apartments—I’d say immediately, Put an offer at this price. I go to the store to buy a pair of shoes, I pay, boom, boom, I’m outta here. I know what I want. That’s not being difficult. It’s just being strong-minded. I’m not difficult at all. I have to go play tennis now. Can you call me back later?