Meet the Girls Who Made Rosé Haute

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Photo Credit: Sara Kerens

With summer just around the corner, let us turn our attention to the beverage of the season, rosé. Although the pretty pink wine is now a thing, it wasn’t always so. In fact, rosé has only become popular in the past couple of years. In 2012, Beverages and More sold 12 to 15 different types of rosé. Last year, they offered somewhere between 45 and 50 bottles. In the next few months, that number is sure to jump. But before we look forward, let’s look back: How did everyone start to drink pink? Some cite Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s rosé, Miravel, a delightful French wine that hit the market in 2013, but we think that a duo of creative blondes are behind the trend. Just as Brangelina were launching their rosé, two best friends debuted an Instagram account called Yes Way Rosé. Little did Erica Blumenthal and Nikki Huganir know that one social media account, which began as an inside joke, would start a rosé revolution. Blumenthal, a fashion editor, and Huganir, an art director, have been best friends since high school and rosé obsessed for just about as long.

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“It started innocently,” Blumenthal explained late last week over the phone. “We were both living in New York and going to dinner together and we were growing infatuated with rosé. So much so that we started having all these inside jokes about it. We decided to start an Instagram account about our love for rosé.” It almost seems as if the two carried a bottle of rosé with them at all times and placed it in random places—perched beside a turquoise pool, on a wooden dock of a bay, resting on a surfboard, etc.—to snap photos. But the reality of it is: Blumenthal and Huganir were actually drinking these bottles, all the while having a grand old time. Their Instagram showcased a certain type of lifestyle seen through rosé colored glasses. As their followers increased, Blumenthal and Huganir suddenly realized they were on to something, so they made a tote bag, started selling it and sharing their followers carrying it, and a brand was born.

2015 summer waterA mixture of idealistic, humorous and aspirational images makes Yes Way Rosé one of the wine world’s most watched Instagram influencers. An oversized cooler filled with bottles of rosé poked fun at a 2014 Page Six article that proclaimed there was a shortage of rosé in the Hamptons.  A photo of basketball player Steph Curry in a pale pink blazer was titled, “Yes Way Steph Curré.”  An image of a glass of rosé alongside a Thanksgiving plate of food—cheekily captioned “Yes Way Turkey Day”—illustrated the varietal’s versatility. When they shared an image of Jolie Folle rosé in the middle of a deserted road, with the caption “Follow the Rosé brick road,” it caught the eye of Jolie Folle’s winemaker, Brian Smith. Smith had recently cofounded, Club W [now Winc], a wine club that makes excellent and interesting bottles of wine from a network of little known producers all over the world, and was interested in collaborating with the ladies of Yes Way Rosé. “It started with us posting a picture of Brain’s rosé,” Huganir said, “so he followed us on Instagram. We started a conversation and last summer, Winc reached out to us about partnering up to make a wine. It really was an unbelievable experience!”

The three collaborated to create a limited-edition (270 cases) rosé. The pinot noir grapes were sourced from a vineyard Winc worked with in Napa Valley. “We were able to create a wine that was Provençal-inspired and captured what our lifestyle brand stood for,” Huganir explained. The 2014 vintage of Summer Water, which was released on Memorial Day last year, sold out in a mere four weeks.

From there, things unexpectedly took off. Blumenthal, Huganir and their expertly curated Instagram account quickly became the face of rosé—and pretty soon, Yes Way Rosé was everywhere. Blumenthal and Huganir were on the cover of Wine Enthusiast and named one of the magazine’s Top 40 Under 40. Celebrities became fans—Drew Barrymore tipped her hat to the ladies of Yes Way Rosé while sipping a glass of, you guessed it, rosé.

Naturally, the team knew that they would have to create something bigger and better for their second vintage, the current release of Summer Water. “This year we were able to go to Santa Barbara with Brian and try out different blends to make the perfect Summer Water,” Blumenthal said. “It was really cool to be a part of the winemaking experience. We were really lucky to work with talented winemakers.” The resulting wine, which was just released, is a Grenache Syrah blend made to emulate a classic and crisp Provençal rosé. Winc upped the production to 5,000 cases and the 2015 Summer Water, which also happens to be vegan, is expected to sell out. “I don’t think we ever thought any of this would happen,” Huganir said when asked if they knew their shared love of rosé would change the way the public perceived pink wine, “but I can’t remember a time when rosé wasn’t a part of our lives.” We’ll toast (a glass of sparkling rosé) to that!

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