Rosé wine is a staple in the Bongiovi household.
"We've always had a bit of an infatuation with it," Jesse Bongiovi, the 23-year-old-son of rock icon Jon Bon Jovi, tells CNBC Make It. "Whenever we'd go out to the Hamptons, we'd always bring cases and cases of the stuff. We like to think we were drinking it before it was cool."
About two years ago, the father-son duo were out on the porch enjoying a bottle with Jesse's college roommate, Ali Thomas. "My dad had always referred to rosé as 'pink juice,'" Bongiovi recalls. But that night, "we said, 'no, no, no. We call it Hampton Water now.' We all kind of laughed about it and he was like, 'Aw man, that would be a funny name for a rosé.'"
Today, you can find Diving into Hampton Water, a unique rosé the three created, on shelves in New York and New Jersey. Soon, it'll be available all along the east coast.
Launching the wine label didn't happen overnight. After graduating from Notre Dame, Bongiovi and Thomas moved into an apartment in New York City. Bongiovi took a job at a start-up and Thomas landed a position at a real estate finance and advisory firm.
On the side, the roommates started creating their own "Hampton Water." They designed a bottle label, which features a woman diving into a rosé-colored pool, and "came up with a little bit more to pitch," says Bongiovi, before proposing the idea to Bon Jovi: "We went back to my dad and said, 'Hey, I know you thought that was a funny name. What do you think of this?' We showed it to him and he lit up."
From there, the young entrepreneurs teamed up with French winemaker Gérard Bertrand and traveled back and forth between New York and Bertrand's wineries in the South of France to create their rosé. And, "ever since then, it's snowballed into what it is today," says Bongiovi. "But it literally just started as one of those nights."
What they came up with, Diving into Hampton Water, is "very light," Bongiovi tells CNBC Make It. "We really set out to create something that is very drinkable. We like to start drinking rosé at noon out in the Hamptons and go into the wee hours of the day, so we wanted to create a wine that you can do that with."
You can buy the wine for $25 a bottle — if you can find it, that is. The rosé, which is being made in the South of France, is sold out at most retailers.
Bongiovi and Thomas work on the company full-time from their kitchen table. "It's our apartment, it's our office and it's our gym all in one," says Bongiovi. When asked if there's a gym in the apartment building, he said "no," but added, "We have a jump rope and a perfect push-up machine."
Day to day, now, they pitch their wine to different restaurants and retailers, plan events, plan market strategies and even design merchandise. "It is definitely a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week gig," says Bongiovi, who was celebrating his 23rd birthday on the day of the interview with CNBC Make It. "There are a million and one things going on. There's definitely never been a dull moment."
The roommates are mostly running the show, but they brought on brand consultant Robin Marino as CEO. Plus, they can bounce ideas off of Bon Jovi.
Before teaming up with his dad, Bongiovi always just saw "the finished product" of what his dad was working on, he says. "You go and you see my dad perform and you go, there it is. That's great." Getting to experience the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of any real endeavor has been illuminating: "To get to see behind the curtain and really talk with him every day about business decisions and why we're thinking different things and how we're planning through different things has been a really great opportunity."
As for the best advice his dad has passed along, that would be, "Don't just do it fast. Do it right. Make sure that this is going to be the absolute best that it can be because, once it's out, there's no taking it back."
And Bon Jovi is learning from his entrepreneurial 23-year-old son. "I work for Jess. This isn't my thing," he tells CNBC Make It. "I'm pleased that people are liking the product, but he would not have made a product that he wouldn't have been proud to share."
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