By Randy Mastronicola
JON BON JOVI is one of the most popular and enduring rock musicians of the last thirty-plus years. A legitimate best-selling rock n’ roll hit maker who, along with bandmates Richie Sambora, Tico Torres, David Bryan, et al., has sold more than 120 million records worldwide, performed over 2,700 concerts in 50 some odd countries, and played in front of 34 million fans. Jon was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009, and Bon Jovi the band was inducted in the 2018 class Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
IF YOU WERE ALIVE in the 1980s and 1990s, attending arena concerts and buying cd’s, and if you’re one of the legions of Gen Xers and Millennials who’ve discovered and appreciate music from that era, it’s virtually impossible that you’ve never rocked out, danced, strutted, pumped an anthemic fist in the air, played air guitar (or been moved by a ballad or two) to any and all of the following megahits from Bon Jovi: “Livin’ On a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Bad Medicine,” “Runaway,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Bed of Roses,” the solo “Blaze of Glory,” and the later day Bon Jovi gem “It’s My Life.”
It’s admirable Jon never succumbed to the stereotypical rock star crash-and-burn syndrome. He’s had no known run-ins with drugs or other scandals. There’s been a bit of band drama, but it wouldn’t be a real rock group without some of that. Yet you wouldn’t say Jon is squeaky clean boring—he was known to favor tequila back in the day, and every band gets a little raucous on the road. He embodied that innate lead singer sinewy swagger, some bluecollar Jersey cool and the chops to deliver, night after night, album after album, a heavy pop-rock sound that well outlasted many of the hair metal bands that came and went with warp speed in a somewhat capricious musical era. Jon showed us it’s cool to be an upstanding citizen (certainly by rock and roll standards) by maintaining a longterm marriage with his high school sweetheart, Dorothea, whom he married in 1989. Together, they’ve lived their lives with four children (one daughter and three sons).
Jon has many miles to go (he’s only 56), but he’s already created a superb legacy.
Legacy, yes, and that’s where his son Jesse comes in. Jesse’s the oldest of Jon’s three sons at 24, and a former Notre Dame football player. He’s definitely inherited his father’s entrepreneurial genes. Jesse has been the driving force behind Hampton Water Wine for a couple of years now. He’s had some good partners as well: namely, his father plus renowned winemaker Gérard Bertrand.
When developing their wine, Jon and Jesse explored rosés from different parts of the world. Being French enthusiasts, they circled back to French rosé. Bertrand has long been held in high esteem for creating wines that exude the terroir of the South of France. The three men formed a friendship and subsequent business partnership when they discovered a mutual love for French rosé. “It was easy to bond with Gérard when we all met,” says Jesse. “We just had this shared vision. We’ve been very lucky to work with him. I think it really grabbed the attention of a lot of critics—and helped us get that positive response early on.” Jon says of the collaboration, “Teaming up with Jesse and Gérard to create Hampton Water Wine isn’t too different than collaborating on a song—there’s a connection between beautiful wine and writing a great song. Everybody’s one line is what brings it together.”
THE DEVELOPMENT and branding of the wine perfectly represents the Bon Jovi family and their love of the Hamptons, N.Y., lifestyle they revere during their downtime. (The Hamptons are a highly popular Long Island seaside resort known for beaches, farms, golf clubs, and equestrian events.) However, successful businesses don’t happen via happenstance. “My father,” says Jesse, “he’s just a ridiculous hard worker and a pretty unbelievable marketer.”
I remarked to Jesse that some people might look at Hampton Water Wine as just another celebrity brand and might not recognize the hard work and appreciate the New Jersey hustle behind it.
“My dad, he’s definitely a hands-on type,” he says. “For me, with a lot of athletes, you gotta out-work people. It’s determination. I definitely think it’s something I get from my family. It’s like from the sports world—just show up and put in the work every day. If you don’t, someone surely will.”
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