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Rosé Literallé Changed Our Lives
If we’re having a glass of rosé by eleven a.m., we know we’re doing something right. This has never been truer than on one sunny, sixty-five-degree morning in the fall of 2017, when we found ourselves in the South of France tasting ten newly harvested rosé blends. The lineup ranged in color from barely there pink to ruby, and the glasses were tinged with flavor profiles from fruit forward to savory. Our mission was to narrow down these options to just one that would become the official Yes Way Rosé wine. After several rounds of tasting and eliminating, we landed on a beautiful, dry, blush-hued rosé with notes of strawberry, citrus, and white peach. In that moment, elated because we knew we were going to have a French wine we absolutely loved as our signature rosé, we jumped up and down and waved our hands in the air in the middle of the winery, dancing like we were at the club. Our dream of creating a wine of our own was finally becoming a realité.
We’ve been coming up with funny dances together since we were fourteen years old at the small school we both attended in Baltimore. Good friends throughout our formative high school years, we bonded over many things, including a shared crush on Brian Austin Green of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame. Back then, we never anticipated that fifteen years later we would run a business together.
After going our separate ways for college, we both found our way to New York City. One summer afternoon we ran into each other on the street in SoHo. At that time, Erica was working as a fashion editor at Jane magazine, and she helped Nikki land an internship in the design department. We picked up our friendship right where we’d left off, quickly becoming a dynamic duo—if we do say so ourselves—hanging out after work and on the weekends. We had an easygoing rapport and similar interests in fashion, music, and art.
Weekend life back then went a little something like this: Meet for dinner, usually at Lil’ Frankie’s in the East Village, order wine that we could pronounce, check out a friend’s band, and see where the night would take us. At bars and concerts, we ordered Jack and gingers or vodka sodas. We both worked in publishing and lived in New York, so we drank whatever was cheap or, even better, free. What was actually in our glasses was not a priority. Then, everything changed.
We wish we could remember the first glass we had, the first bottle we shared, or the first time we joked about our love for rosé. We had no idea that those moments would change our lives forever. We know it was sometime in 2011, most likely at a Fashion Week party or a café on the Bowery. Archived Gchat conversations (may they rest in peace) indicate that was the year we developed a passion for rosé and began heading to wine stores specifically to buy it.
Without looking for it, we had found our drink and our calling.
By the summer of 2012, we were on the brink of obsession, drinking pink wine—always from Provence—almost exclusively. Erica nicknamed rosé “Summer Water” because it went down almost too easily. From there, the rosé puns flowed. An early example: “I’m right on top of that, Rosé,” a riff on the 1991 cinematic masterpiece Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Coming up with these jokes was a source of endless laughter for us, and our friends couldn’t get enough of them. This was the first sign that we were on to something.
At the same time, we sought out restaurants that had rosé on the menu and lamented the fact that it wasn’t available at every single place we went. Why didn’t our regular spots have a house rosé, we wondered, like the standard red and white? Rosé became our main topic of conversation with anyone who would listen. We just couldn’t get past the fact that a drink could be simultaneously so delicious and so beautiful. Plus, we could afford it. Rosé is accessible, even inexpensive, compared to a lot of wine, but it feels luxurious and chic. Just the thought of rosé made us giddy. Without looking for it, we had found our drink and our calling. Completely infatuated, by summer 2013 we felt compelled to share our love for rosé with the world at large. We took to Instagram, where we could showcase the beauty of rosé, while using our inside jokes as captions to lend a playful voice. A relatively new social media channel, Instagram was still on the rise at that time and not yet a destination for launching brands; it was cool, like something our moms had never heard of. Instagram was the place to let our love of rosé shine for the world, and it was obvious to us that we should use the handle Yes Way Rosé to spread our message on the platform.
From there, everything fell naturally into place: While talking about rosé at a party, as per usual, one friend offered us a perfect tagline in the clever pun “Everything’s coming up Rosé.” #Summerwater was a shoo-in to be our official hashtag, and for each caption we had a simple test: It had to be breezy and make both of us laugh, just like the wine. This was a creative outlet, an Instagram account—about rosé of all things!—and if we were laboring over a caption, it defeated the purpose. Of course, what that purpose was, exactly, was still up in the air.
Soon, though, Yes Way Rosé evolved into something more than witty captions and silly jokes. We began to use our Instagram account to share the names of specific rosés we were drinking, the locations where we were sipping them, and photos of full, pink glasses simply looking gorgeous. Capturing those magic rosé moments became our mission; we brought bottles of wine everywhere so that we never missed a photo opportunité. A shot of the NYC skyline with a glass held up, for example, was the perfect match for the caption “Bright lights, Big rosé.” For a bottle on a dusty country trail, we wrote, “Follow the rosé brick road.” As pop culture junkies, we worked in references to movies, television, and music whenever possible. For a glass in front of the TV with The Bachelor on: “Will you accept this Rosé?”
That same summer in 2013, Nikki designed our logo, a varsity block letter graphic that boldly stated YES WAY ROSÉ. At the time, a friend of ours had a side hustle printing event totes, and she worked with us to print our new logo on a handful of bags. We thought of it as a way to make what we were doing tangible. The totes, which we of course renamed totés, gave Yes Way Rosé life beyond social media. Instagram was incredibly powerful for our burgeoning brand, but seeing it in real life took it to the next level. Everywhere we went—walking down the street or stepping into elevators—we were stopped by strangers who wanted to know where we bought our bags. There was only one logical next step: to create a website where we could sell the totés to anyone and everyone. Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves meeting early one morning in the county clerk’s office at the Manhattan Supreme Court building to obtain a business certificate. Our baby, Yes Way Rosé, was officially born.
Where there’s a will, there’s a rosé.
In the beginning, mostly people we knew made up our communité of fans, friends, and followers. We grew slowly at first, but we believed in what we were doing and knew that if we built it, the followers would come. We also felt confident that rosé would continue to gain in popularity in the United States, where it could still be hard to come by, especially outside of big cities. It became our mission to spread the rosé word, both for the benefit of others and because we wanted it to be available everywhere you could order a drink. We envisioned going to concerts and ordering rosé instead of beer. We imagined attending summer weddings and being greeted with a cold glass of rosé at the reception. It was a big dream, and reaching that point would require dedication, but we knew we were up to the task—one glass and Instagram post at a time.
It all clicked in May 2014, after Vogue.com interviewed us as rosé experts for a story called “Why Rosé Is Summer’s Most Popular (and Soon-to-Be Most Instagrammed) Drink.” This first piece of press gave us credibilité and caught the eye of a special new follower: none other than Drew Barrymore. We had joked about how we thought Drew was the celebrity who best exemplified YWR, with her positive energy and free spirit, and then there she was—our first famous fan. She gave us a shout-out on her Instagram and even posted a photo of herself wearing our sweatshirt while holding a bottle of her Barrymore rosé. Her early support meant the world to us and will never cease to blow our minds.
Clearly, there was a growing interest in what we were doing, and we could sense that the world was finally ready for rosé domination. In the summer of 2014, a wine company approached us about collaborating on a rosé. That conversation led to the first vintage of Summer Water, a delight-fully pink wine named in honor of our first joke, which launched in 2015 with a modern label we designed to reflect our strong yet feminine brand. Made in California, that wine became the sip of summer. We were featured on the cover of Wine Enthusiast Magazine as influential tastemakers, came out with a nail polish color, expanded our online store, and eventually left our day jobs to pursue Yes Way Rosé full time.
As our empire grew, a big piece of the puzzle was still missing: an official Yes Way Rosé wine, designed by us from start to finish. We explored all of the components needed to create a wine that fully embodied what we love about rosé, from the color and taste down to its affordability. With persistence and luck on our side, we assembled a dream team, made an epic trip to France, and in 2018 released the first vintage of Yes Way Rosé. Dubbed “The French Rosé You Can Actually Say,” the classic Provençal-style rosé is super fresh on the inside, stylish and empowered on the outside.
As we’ve grown Yes Way Rosé, become businesswomen, and followed this surprising path, the one constant amid the craziness has been our commitment to each other as friends. A creative partnership can spark unexpectedly, and we were lucky to find ours one tipsy night together. We can’t express after so much hard work, through both growing pains and incredible triumphs, how amazing it felt to dance around in the South of France together.
This book is intended to reflect the sense of love and possibility that is the essence of rosé. We wrote it to shed light on why, like us, you are probably obsessed with rosé. And we wrote it to capture the magic of friendship and support among women, which is so often enjoyed over a glass of the pink stuff. Ultimately, we want to celebrate the moments when, surrounded by besties, you can stop to sip the rosé.
Straight É Students
We could talk about wine for hours now, but back when we started Yes Way Rosé, we had close to zero wine knowledge. In the years before embarking on this rosé adventure, we ordered wine in a fairly arbitrary way, with a standard glass of pinot grigio for Nikki and a cabernet for Erica. We didn’t have a “signature drink” and became flustered when handed a wine list. Discovering rosé changed all of that. We felt compelled to understand why it was so delicious and what the lingo was so we could feel more confident when it came to ordering. We were able to identify a few commonalities in the wines that captivated us: They were all French rosés from Provence that had a dry taste, had a light pink color, and were served chilled. These characteristics were a good start, but they offered only a hint of what was yet to come.
When we first launched our Instagram in 2013, rosé was booming. Exports from Provence to the United States were growing exponentially, and that same year Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt released the first vintage of their soon-to-be-everywhere rosé, Miraval. Rosé was becoming ubiquitous, popping up wherever we turned, and we were eager to know more, especially because our friends and followers had begun asking for recommendations. Suffice it to say, we were terrified. We may have come across as authorités on the topic, but we were still only in the early stages of learning.
Our Instagram was based on a connection we had to the wine, a feeling we couldn’t articulate at the time. We had no other choice but to educate ourselves. We befriended a sommelier, Meg McNeill, who took us under her wing and graciously let us tag along to tastings with importers. (We became aware of the value of spitting at tastings, but that’s a storé for another time. Pro tip: Spit.) We immersed ourselves in the culture of rosé, hanging out in wine stores, reading whatever we could on the subject, and traveling to vineyards in Long Island and California. Not a bad way to learn on the job!
Wine is an intimidating subject in general. It’s vast and constantly evolving; nature is at play and each year is different. You don’t need to become a sommelier to figure out what you like. We are not sommeliers. Our interest is propelled by the incredible places where rosé is made and a desire to know the story behind each bottle. The best advice we can offer is to start with the most beautiful wine out there. Inherently more easygoing than other wines, rosé is the perfect gateway to the wine world. The greatest part? You can sip and learn at the same time.
Fill up a glass and let’s get down to the nitté gritté.
Also known as Provence. It’s only fitting that rosé was born in such an idyllic place.
To understand how rosé comes to life, we need to understand its motherland: Provence. The sun-soaked region in southeastern France, commonly referred to as the South of France, is located along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordering the Rhone River and the Languedoc to the west and the CÔte d’Azur (French Riviera) and Italy to the east. Provence is a place that conjures all sorts of fantasies and daydreams: Think of it as the place where Beyoncé—all hail the Queen—jumps off the back of a mega yacht while on vacation with Jay-Z and where Leo—no last name needed—parties it up with models and expensive bottles during the Cannes Film Festival. Provence is a picturesque destination known for its wildly fragrant lavender fields, olive groves, and curvy mountain roads. It’s the place where Julia Child retreated to the bucolic countryside with her husband, and it was in the Provençal resort town of Antibes that F. Scott Fitzgerald finished The Great Gatsby. The perpetual blue sky and breathtaking landscapes have understandably inspired great creativity… and rosé masterpieces.
Several of the world’s most famous works of modern art were painted in the Provence area. Paul Cézanne, often called “the father of modern art,” spent most of his life in his Aix-en-Provence hometown, where he painted a series depicting his favorite landscape, Montagne Sainte-Victoire. A troubled but productive Vincent van Gogh completed The Starry Night and Irises, among other works, in an asylum in the medieval village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Henri Matisse, who lived most of the time in Nice, conceived and decorated his self-proclaimed masterpiece, The Rosary Chapel (also known as “Chapel Matisse”), in the town of Vence, which is filled with his art and magnificent stained-glass windows. And the Spanish pioneer of Cubism and striped shirt enthusiast Pablo Picasso spent the later years of his life working throughout Provence.
- On Sale
- Apr 9, 2019
- Page Count
- 216 pages
- Running Press