The rocker let his son Jesse be the front man of their new wine venture: ‘He said, ‘figure it out’
Bon Jovi’s latest gig is a wine tour.
Rockstar Jon Bon Jovi, 56, teamed up with his 23-year-old son Jesse Bongiovi to create a rosé, Diving into Hampton Water, inspired by their mutual love of drinking pink wine while vacationing out East.
“It literally started out as one of those late nights sitting on the porch drinking wine with a friend of mine. My dad called out ‘you guys want more pink juice?’ I said ‘No, we want Hampton water,’” Jesse, a recent graduate of Notre Dame, where he played football and studied business, tells Moneyish.
“The next morning I said, ‘wait I think that would be a good business idea,’ and my dad said, ‘figure it out.’”
So Jesse met with sommeliers, distributors and just about anyone who could teach him about the wine industry. Then he recruited his dad to take a trip with him to the South of France, where the duo teamed up with French wine maker Gérard Bertrand to develop a blend of grenache, cinsault and mourvedre grapes from France. The result is a smooth, fruit-forward varietal on sale now for $25 a bottle.
When it came to designing the bottle, Bon Jovi made it clear that he didn’t want to be the frontman of the project.
“My dad said if ‘we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right, I’m not going to do this if it’s bed of roses rosé,’” Jesse recalls of his dad refusing to name the wine after one one of his famous songs.
“His name isn’t anywhere on the bottle. There’s no big picture of his face, we wanted this to be something that stood alone even without him, and I think we achieved that,” Jesse adds.
Even though Bon Jovi and his son are New Jersey natives, Jesse says he decided on the aesthetic of the relaxed vibe of the Hamptons meets the South of France, and illustrated the label with a lady diver plunging into a sea of pink wine.
While having Bon Jovi as your dad helps with a sales pitch, Jesse says there were some challenges that came with having a rockstar as his business partner.
“I can definitely appreciate the advantages, but it also comes along with some things that are a bit of a pain. As we’ve gone out selling, everybody’s first question is ‘where’s Jon?’’ says Jesse.
“The biggest challenge is having the wine be a separate entity. We’ve gotten a million and one requests for him to show up to liquor stores and sign bottles. We had to figure out how do we sell this without putting the gimmicky label on it that it’s ‘Jon Bon Jovi’s Wine?’”
Jesse, who grew up touring with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who has released 13 studio albums and sold over 100 million records worldwide, said the best business advice his dad ever gave him was to slow down and don’t rush into big decisions.
“My initial instinct was ‘let’s get this done right now.’ There were a lot of conversations like once you put this out, this is permanent you cannot take it back,” Jesse says. “To have him guiding me, and have him sit me down and say ‘make sure you’re really happy with every detail’ has been the biggest lesson that I’ve learned.”
Jesse says the pink wine pairs well with seafoods like salmon and ceviche and, of course, the right mood music. And if you need some tunes to set the mood, he’s got a few suggestions for those as well.
“It depends when you’re drinking it. If you’re drinking it during the day, maybe you’re outside rocking around on the beach, “Livin’ on a Prayer” is certainly a fun one. If you’re sitting out and it’s a late night in the back yard, maybe ‘Bed of Roses.’”
Ironically, Jesse’s personal favorite Bon Jovi song isn’t one his dad wrote.
“He might be mad at me for saying this, but the cover that he does of ‘Hallelujah’ is the best song ever recorded in human history. It’s my favorite song, and I think he absolutely killed it,” he admits.
Starting his first business venture has been an exciting career goal for Jesse, but he also says he’s enjoyed working with his old man.
“It’s definitely something that’s brought us a lot closer together.”
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