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‘we’re here to work hard’

Hampton Water is named after the Long Island beach community where Bon Jovi's lead singer consumed most of the pink stuff.

make a splash
Friday July 07, 2023

Hamptons Water
splash Montecito

Jesse Bongiovi speaks
of the brand of
rosé he created with
his rock star father

When rock star Jon Bon Jovi started drinking rosé more than two decades ago, the pink wine style was not exactly en vogue. But his “pink juice” passion never waned, so much so that his son, Jesse Bongiovi (the actual, non-stage spelling of their last name), suggested they create their own brand about six years ago.

They decided to call it Hampton Water, after the seaside Long Island community where dad consumed most of the pink stuff, and enlisted the services of French winemaker Gerard Bertrand, whose mastery of rosé was just touted on the cover of Wine Spectator. Today, Hampton Water, which is made from grapes grown in the South of France, is one of the hottest wines in the marketplace.

Jesse is the one running around the world to keep those fires lit, and just finished weeks of meeting with European wine buyers, distributors, and restaurateurs in London, Hamburg, and the German island of Sylt, among other places. He’s headed to Santa Barbara on July 13, when he’ll be hosting a happy hour from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at Montesano’s Market & Deli on Coast Village Road in Montecito. 

Why are you coming to Santa Barbara?

The concept behind the brand has always been about sharing this idea of the Hampton lifestyle. We wanted to create a brand that was not necessarily about geographic location. So many wine brands do that, and for good reason. But if I have no connection to that geographical place, then what does that brand have to do with me? 

Hampton Water is about moving beyond a single location and into a state of mind. So why are we going to Santa Barbara? For us, anywhere that you can see water is a great place to drink Hampton Water. 

For being a rock star, your dad seems like he’s been a pretty good and normal father. 

I don’t have anything to base it on, as I only have one dad. But the thing that’s always been an important piece of their parenting style was to teach us hard work and dedication and all those things that are required to be successful. There certainly was no “Don’t you know who I am?” and a lot more, “You go out and get it every day.” That’s stuck with me since my childhood. 

Rosé isn’t historically considered rock ‘n’ roll booze. Did your dad ever get shit from friends for drinking it?

He got into rosé 25 years ago, so he was ahead of the curve. He will claim to this day that the East Hampton liquor store has Domaine Ott because 15, 20 years ago, he went to the Mediterranean and tried this amazing pink juice and had to bring it back to the States. He’s always been into the pink juice and he passed that along to me. I don’t know if he’s ever gotten shit from his contemporaries, but truthfully I don’t think a lot of them are throwing back shots of Jack Daniels anymore.

Fame certainly can help launch brands, but have you had to deal with any negative connotations that sometimes haunt celebrity products?

For us, it’s not a celebrity brand — it’s a family business. We didn’t do a “Bed of Roses” rosé  and slap my dad’s face on it and hope it would work. We wanted to be very thoughtful about the brand and not be pandering. We didn’t want it to be a vanity product. We wanted it to be a real rosé business.

We are currently the number five selling premium rosé in the United States. That doesn’t just happen randomly. We knew it was gonna be hard work. I mean, I haven’t been home in five weeks.

That’s what a lot of other brands forget. They don’t pay attention that their juice isn’t very good, or realize that you have to go to the meetings and shake the hands and do the interviews and go to the cool restaurants and talk about the brand. You’ve got to invest in the brand or it will be here today and gone tomorrow.

We’ve always believed in this concept and I’ve been willing to do the work to make it a success. Now we have a big group working every single day to bring it to the next level.


See HamptonWaterWine.com .

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