Joe Cannella ’03 always knew that “Cannella” meant cinnamon in Italian, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he would come to understand his Sicilian roots. On his first visit to Catania, on the eastern coast of Sicily, he and his uncle sat down for a drink at their cozy hotel bar, and came across a simple, rustic bottle of “Rosolio di Cannella,” which would become the inspiration for their very first product: Cannella Cinnamon Cordial. He brought a few bottles home, and it became an instant family tradition to pour some “Cannella” after dinner—until they ran out! And so he did what any proper Italian family would do in such a situation: He began learning how to make his own.
Several years and dozens of variations later, after much testing and expert feedback, batch #1 of their namesake Cannella Cinnamon Cordial launched in November 2014 under their company, Cannella Spirits. With his dad as his business partner and his wife, Andrea “Annie” Gastelum ’03, as their first sales manager, the business has expanded distribution to nine states and launched two other products: Amaro Cannella and Fernet Cannella. Although home base for the family is in Reno, Nevada, they plan to launch their own distillery in the heart of San Francisco this coming summer and will continue to maintain production there. Joe and Annie have three children—Carolina (2 years old) and Antonino “Nino” and Isabel, their newborn twins.