Power Broker: Jesse Bongiovi

Jesse Bongiovi
Jesse Bongiovi, Photo: Yumi Matsuo Photography

While Jesse Bongiovi, like his father Jon, is a native son of New Jersey, he is an adopted son of the Hamptons, and an ambassador for it, too.

After a day of enjoying summertime life in the Hamptons oasis, a night in 2018 changed the course of history for Jesse, a recent graduate of Notre Dame University.

He was seated around the table with his rock-icon father and his college roommate, Ali Thomas, when Jon excused himself to get another glass of rosé, which, at the time, he referred to as “pink juice.”  When he stepped away, Jesse quipped, “No, Dad. It’s Hamptons Water,” and at that moment, a brand was born.

“During the summertime, it seemed like we were drinking more rosé  than water—and then, the name kind of just stuck,” says Jesse, whose posh and popular rosé  brand Hampton Water has quickly become one of the most recognizable names in wine today. “The idea to start our own wine company was born then, and we kind of just took it from there.”

During Jesse’s upbringing, his family spent months at a time at their Hamptons summer home.  He shares that his family finds the East End to be a place to “exhale,” and spend time together on the beach, lounging around the pool, and enjoying local restaurants.

With his wine, Jesse says, he is bottling what he calls the “Hamptons life” to sell it across the globe, and share the lovely life on the East End that he has come to know and love. “Living in the Hamptons is the best part of life, and, with Hampton Water we are sharing this experience with the world,” he says.

A co-founder with his college roommate, Jesse is somewhat of a Renaissance man.  A former football player for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish—one of the nation’s leading college football programs—Jesse was never much intent on following in his father’s footsteps into music.

“I took some guitar lessons, but was always more interested in sports: football, lacrosse, wrestling,” he says. Until he turned to spirits.

And now, in his first business venture since selling lemonade as a child, he is making waves from the Hamptons to Paris and everywhere in between. Wine, though, he admits, is a complex industry.  He seeks to simplify it to help others overcome the complexities and simply enjoy the drink.

“Like many people my age, wine is intimidating,” he says. “If I went around trying to sell a 10-year-old Bordeaux, customers would realize I was only 15 when it was bottled. Rosé  is a fun, cool and easy-drinking beverage, so we thought, let’s not go the ways of the ‘stuffy’ wine brands, and let’s make a wine for the party,” he continues.

And this is just what he has done.

From France to Napa Valley, his wine has taken off, selling 32,000 cases in his first year and seeing a growth of nearly 130% in sales in 2020.  His bottle and brand appear often in social media posts of the stars, with some of his marquee customers being such Hamptons A-Listers as Jimmy Fallon, Beth Stern and the band The Killers.

In terms of growth, Jesse thinks the sky is the limit. “There is plenty of room to expand in the future of rosé, with different blends and such. We are confident, because if anyone can do it, I am sure we could.”

Some would say that wine is bottled poetry, but in Jesse’s case, it’s bottled Hamptons—and, as we know, out here there is plenty of happiness to go around.

Hampton Water is available across Long Island’s East End wherever wine and spirits are sold. Join Jesse’s 250,000 social media followers or visit HamptonWaterWine.com to learn more.

Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and Associate Publisher at Dan’s Papers.

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