When you think of rosé season, your mind might dreamily wander to summer, but Diving into Hampton Water – a recently launched collaboration between Jon Bon Jovi, his son, Jesse Bongiovi, and acclaimed French winemaker Gérard Bertrand has got the East Coast clamoring for “Hampton Water” right now.
We caught up with Bongiovi to learn about what it was like working with his dad for the first time, the best part about creating a rosé and more.
When did you and your dad first start thinking about creating your own wine label and why did you decide on a rosé?
JB: We started working on this about two years ago. Essentially it just sort of started as a fun conversation. My dad always used to call rosé “pink juice” and my family would always drink it everywhere we would go. We would bring it on vacation, we would have it all the time in the Hamptons – when we would be out there. So, one night, my dad came up to me and a buddy and said, “Hey, do you guys want more ‘pink juice.'” And I said, “No, no. We call it ‘Hampton water’ now.” And he laughed about it and was like, “Oh, man. That’s a great name for a rosé. Imagine if we had that on a bottle.” So I obviously said, “Hey! Are you kidding? Let’s do it!” He said, “Listen, come back with an idea. If you’re serious about it, then we can do it.” A couple of months went by. I came up with a design and a business plan. I went and presented it to him, and he said, “This is a really great idea.” We showed it to some other people, got introduced to Gerard Bertrand, and two years later we have ourselves a rosé.
Tell me a bit about the name, Diving into Hampton Water? Is that how it came to be?
JB: Yeah. It was kind of the running joke amongst my friends. We would always just call it “The water of the Hamptons” and that’s something that’s definitely been said out there before. And eventually it just got shortened to “Hampton Water” and then eventually I told my dad about it and the rest is history.
Was this your first time working with your dad on a project?
JB: This is. It’s been an amazing opportunity, to be honest with you. I always say that I get to see the final product – I get to see him being Jon Bon Jovi up on stage. It’s been amazing to see behind the curtains and really get to have input with him. All the time you hear about him doing different things and watch him doing things, but now to be able to work together, and have him look at me and go, “What do you think we should do?” And him actually listen to what I’m saying and us trying to figure these things out together has been a lot of fun.
Now I know your dad has his own wine label, but did you have any background in the industry before this?
JB: No. This has all been learning on the run – which has been a little crazy at times, but again, incredibly exciting. I was just trying to learn as much as I can. It’s been great having Gerard on. He’s been an amazing help with everything. He’s been an amazing instructor. His knowledge and background in the wine industry is what gives us our legitimacy. We wouldn’t have done this if we weren’t going to do it for real. Without his help, we wouldn’t have been able to do it at all.
And why did you feel Gerard was a good fit for the brand?
JB: When we first initially started this, we tried a bunch of rosés. I think deep down we always knew that we wanted it to be French. My parents always drank Domaine Ott years ago, and so when we had the opportunity to try Gerard’s wine, that was our initial introduction to him, and when we finally got to meet the man and we connected on so many different things. He’s a music lover. He played sports – he played for the French national rugby team. We all had so much in common and his whole wine life is all about sharing the lifestyle of the South of France, and so when we went to him, we said, “Look, we’ve got this idea for a wine. We want to share the lifestyle of the Hamptons.” He lit up and said, “I totally get it. I totally understand. Let’s do it.” We just had so much in common and such a common goal for the last year and a half that it’s been an amazing opportunity to get to work with him.
What was the best part of creating a rosé?
JB: Having ten cases of it in my apartment all the time… I’ve been saying that I stared at this thing on the computer screen for two years and so to actually have something that I was obsessing over for so long and to be looking at it on the floor in my living room is a pretty amazing thing. A lot of ideas like this you just talk about and they never come to fruition, but to actually see this thing to the point that it’s reached now and to see the response that we’re getting – people are loving it and we’re selling it like crazy. Every restaurant we walk into it’s like who are these two kids? And then we’ve got a great wine and they go, this is no joke. I think that’s been the most amazing part – getting to share this with people.
I read that it’s already sold out at all retailers. That must be pretty exciting.
JB: Yeah. In the first 48 hours we had gone through 700 cases and they had to airfreight more in, which we were high fiving about.
You had your launch party recently. What was it like to see all those people come out to toast to your labor of love?
JB: It was a dream come true. It almost didn’t feel real to be honest with you. To have all those people there and to be at the Versace mansion, which is a place that doesn’t even make sense, it’s hard to explain. To have all those people there, toasting to our rosé, it really is hard to explain.
Since this was inspired by the Hamptons, what does your perfect day in the Hamptons look like?
JB: Surfing at Georgica Beach in the morning, barbeque at my place later that afternoon, going to Surf Lodge until 8 or 9 and then going to Talkhouse. That’s my perfect Saturday in the Hamptons right there.
What are some of your favorite Hamptons memories?
JB: Many, many, many. How can you pick? It’s like picking a favorite kid. I would just say anytime I’m able to be out there. When you’re in the City and to be able to make that drive out and you’ve got your buddies in the car and your family’s out there. Anytime you’re spending time in the Hamptons and it’s a sunny day, you know that there’s going to be great memories that follow suit, and that was a real inspiration for this wine. We have so many great memories out there that we wanted to share with people and we wanted to make sure that other people had an opportunity to experience that as well. That was really the inspiration behind this whole project – sharing those great memories that we all have out there.
Since it has been so well received, any plans to expand the line?
JB: We’ve only had the line for maybe three weeks, so you’ll have to get back to me on that. I think the sky’s the limit. But, for right now, we’re very much just focused on this rosé.
Diving into Hampton Water retails for $25 and is available at Bottle Hampton in Southampton, Hampton Bays Wine & Spirit in Hampton Bays, Sag Harbor Liquor Store in Sag Harbor, and Herbert & Rist in Southampton.
For more information, check out Diving into Hampton Water on Twitter here and Instagram here.