There is nothing quite like a sip of crisp rosè in the summertime, especially if you’re sipping Jesse Bongiovi and Jon Bon Jovi’s new rosè, Hampton Water. Imagine a smooth breeze of the summer air swirling in rhythm with the laugher of good company. Hues of orange, pink, and firey red consume the sky as the sun sets on another picturesque day in the Hamptons. The essence of this moment is the founding idea and key ingredient for the father-son collaboration. Borne of superior character and style, Hampton Water captures the essence of relaxation in the Hamptons with the intention of being enjoyed by both wine experts and novices alike. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre Grapes and priced at $25 per bottle, it’s accessibility and quality is truly unparalleled. Inspired by the lifestyle and conviviality of both the Hamptons and the South of France, the rosè blend is created alongside renowned French winemaker Gerard Bertrand. Harbored with a core value of quality and relaxation, Jesse Bongiovi and his father Jon Bon Jovi invite all to enjoy Hampton Water and experience the “exhale” of the Hamptons, regardless of where or who you are.
Jamie Agoglia: What sparked the idea behind Hampton Water?
Jesse Bongiovi: Well since I was young, I've been going out to the Hamptons. Since I’ve been old enough to go out [and drink] and have a good time, the running joke has been that “rosè is the water of the Hamptons.” That’s where the name came from. My college buddies and I would be going out, partying, having fun, calling every wine we drank Hampton Water.
One night we were back at my place for an after party, my dad comes out and sees us drinking rosè, or what he calls “pink juice”, and me and my buddies are like, “No, no we’re in the Hamptons, you’re not drinking pink juice anymore; you’re drinking Hampton Water”. He just lit up, he thought it was hilarious and said that someone should put that on a bottle. My friends and I exchanged some looks and got excited about the possibilities. My college roommate, Ali Thompson, and I came up with the concept, the label, the business plan, and brought it back to my Dad and he just fell in love with the whole idea all over again. We wanted to come up with a product that’s not only a high-end wine, but also one that both wine connoisseurs and novice wine drinkers could enjoy all the same. We wanted it to be approachable, so that someone in their 20’s could feel comfortable picking it up in a liquor store or off of a wine list and not feel intimidated by the price or a name they couldn’t pronounce.
JA: Hampton Water is crafted by French winemaker Gerard Bertrand, what prompted the decision to work with a French winemaker rather than an American one?
JB: We were trying wine from all over when we first came up with the idea. We went to the liquor store and tried out just about every rosè we could get our hands on. After trying different blends from different regions, we always kind of knew we wanted it to be a French rosè; my dad has always been a big fan of Doublenaut. We had actually tried some of Gerard’s blends blends before someone suggested him to us. We realized he was able to make unbelieve, high-end wines, and we knew he would be able to provide us great quality without it having to be a ridiculously priced wine. And for someone like me, I’m 23 years old and wanted to be able to bring forward a product that’s not going to cost you $65 dollars a bottle. We got in contact and met him, and he loved the idea, loved us, and the rest was history.
JA: What has the process of creating a company from scratch at 23 years old been like?
JB: A little stressful, that’s for sure. It’s a lot of running around, meetings, and flights. It’s nonstop. It’s been a lot but at the end of the day, we’re selling wine, so it’s not like we’re selling health care [laughs]. We’re always having fun, it’s exciting and everyday is a new, crazy adventure. We joke that everyday the house catches on fire and if we put it out by 5pm then we had a pretty good day. A million and one things pop up a day, and we all look at each other and find the solutions and run with them from there.
JA: The bottle itself is beautifully designed. Tell me about the meaning behind the artwork we see on the bottle.
JB: Originally, our plan was to have the bottle be shrink wrapped, opaque white on top and clear plastic at the bottom which would reveal the rosè. The idea was that the diver on the bottle was jumping from water into wine, and turning the water into rosè as she dove in. We went over it with our French team and they were like, “Listen boys, that isn’t how this works [laughs].” So it went through a few iterations.
A detail that not everyone notices but I personally am very proud of is the letter that appears the front label. It’s intended to be an invitation to the person picking up the bottle or anyone who wants go give it a try. It starts off with, “Dearest Friend, You have great taste. You’ve just picked up your new favorite bottle of wine. All you have to know is it’s French, it tastes best when it’s cold, and you better buy an extra bottle because this stuff goes quick. . .” It all goes back to being fun and approachable and something that you’d feel inclined to check out and try.
JA: How would you describe your rosè?
JB: It's definitely light, we wanted to create something that’s super drinkable, something you could drink it from noon to 4 AM without the headache you can get sometimes from other rosès - I think we’ve done a really great job of that. Twenty percent of the wine we use is aged in oak which gives it a much fuller body than other rosès. Most rosès in generally are tip of your tongue, where you get that initial taste but there’s not much to it after that. With ours, it’s a dry rosè, there’s a lot more structure, a lot more body to it, it’s fruity but not too sweet. We wanted to created a blend that held that essence of the Hamptons that we’ve enjoyed over the years.
JA: What have you learned from working alongside your father, Jon Bon Jovi, while creating Hampton Waters?
JB: It’s been amazing. I mean he has been able to build a 35 year career in one of the most challenging industries in the world, the music industry. And he really has an entrepreneurial business mindset, so being able to look to him for advice for little things, be it party planning or t-shirt designs, has been great. He not only has my best interest at heart but he has been here before. He has run business and done all these things that are new to me, so he knows how certain things are supposed to go. Going into this there was so much I didn’t know. He’s really been able to guide me and show me how to do all the details. What I think has been been really cool this that [making wine] is a totally new thing for both of us. It’s not like I wanted to be a music producer or start a rock band; we’re both figuring it out as we go and learning from each other in that respect.
JA: Tell me about the launch party, Diving Into Hampton Waters, that you held at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival?
JB: It was lot of fun and little crazy [laughs]. We held it at the Versace mansion,which is now called Casa Casuarina. It was just beautiful night, a magical evening. We had a lot of friends there and people that had helped us along the process. We were so excited to be able to launch during Miami Wine and Food Festival; it was the perfect time to share it with friends and the people we had been talking about it with since the start. It was a really special night, and the reaction was so great that we actually ran out of wine during the event which I think is a pretty good sign.
JA: What was it like for your family to have the event held at the Versace mansion?
JB: My parents were good friends with Gianni Versace. During the event, my Dad made a great speech after performing a few songs where he said that old friends were looking down on new friendships. I think it meant a lot for my parents to be at place they had been before and had a real connection to. And to be able to bring me into that space and hold such a specially event was very special. I think it was a really great way to kick off what has become a pretty exciting, great brand.