Honey Bubbles Wine Cofounder, Scott Roughgarden: Honey Bubbles [wine] is a delicate balance of acid, fruit and minerality. It’s full body. The bubbles give it this beautifully delicate mousse and because of the high acid, it cuts the residual sugar at the end of your palate.
From working at Shutter on the Beach, I was working at this unique environment where I was at the best of the best in the wine world.
I mean, we pour Opus 1 by the glass, we pour bottles that are $400 to $500 dollars a bottle by the glass at Shutters. It’s just the type of service that everyone in the service industry does not have. And Shutters is very passionate about making sure that their servers articulate what they are selling, so they pay for all of us to take the WSET-Level 2, which is the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. It’s like the sommelier, different education standard, equally respected.
I’m Level 2, I’m taking Level 3 (now I actually have a test next week).
And in the class Master Somm Peter Neptune got in the discussion on Moscato. He loves it. “Moscato is growing a 1,000 percent every year. It’s the fastest growing segment in the US wine market. Totally driven by millennial and the female demographic.” Right after that statement I’m like [raises his hand] and he’s like “Yeah?” And I say “What if I start a Moscato brand. And he’s like “Good luck!”
After the class, I asked [cofounders] Christiana and Laurie, I’m like “Look, I think we can do this. There’s an opportunity here. Let’s talk about this.”
And we’re lucky. We raised funding within the first 6 months. Christiana was really amazing with that. She actually brought the first money in which was amazing. When we were researching what was on the market, I bought everything that I could find. And to our benefit, there’s a lot of terrible, God-awful Moscato in the US market. Can you name a trendy, brand-name Moscato or a luxury brand Moscato? [Shakes his head no]…Honey Bubbles.
So we were really passionate about filling that niche. And drinking everything I could find in the Moscato world, just the residual sugar was so high. You couldn’t get through a glass of wine without getting a headache. I didn’t want to even think about what having four glasses would do because the hangover might take me a week and a half to get over. And so I started calling farms and vineyards all over the US.
The first batch of Honey Bubbles came from New Mexico. Moscat is a great grape. It grows exceptional in many different climates. All the way from Washington state down to Temecula (California). Moscato does very well and so New Mexico was perfect. It was super hot during the day and cool at night. That was a great contrast for the grapes. It got hot enough for the sugar in the grapes to get to a certain level so you can ferment the wine out to the APV that we wanted and this producer was willing to work with us to get what we wanted and they sent samples back and forth. It was like a three month process to make sure that we knew exactly what we wanted to bring going into the market.
It helped that the three of us (Laurie, Christiana and myself) were all wine educated, we’re wine dorks, we love wine, obviously. And we wanted it to translate to what we interpreted it as, a premiere Moscato brand.
The biggest difference with Honey Bubbles than the majority of Moscat on the market is we pull the residual sugar back, it’s not as sweet. It’s 11% in volume. Most Moscato d’Asti is between 5 and 8 percent. So the US market, I think they like a higher alcohol content. I think it was good for the wine because when you pull the residual sugar back, it accentuates properties of the wine that get overshadowed by high RS (by RS meaning residual sugar).
Honey Bubbles is a delicate balance of acid, fruit and minerality. It’s full bodied. The bubbles give it this beautifully delicate mousse and because of the high acid, it cuts the residual sugar at the end of your palate.
My favorite tasting that I go into, this Somm was like “I hate Moscato. I don’t want to do this tasting. I’m doing it because it’s for a friend. It’s a recommendation. I’ll get this guy out of here in 10 minutes.”
So I go in and they tray Honey Bubbles and they are like “I’ve never had Moscato like this ever in my life.” And I’m getting this feedback every single day.
Obviously it’s my brand. This is the feedback I’m getting.
At the Torrey Pines Lodge down in San Diego, we were the first new brand in seven years that they brought on at that ridiculously nice hotel that is hard to get into. Because of our relationships with food and beverage, we’ve been able to get in front of decision makers at properties that would be almost impossible for other brands or reps to get into.
Question: When was the last time you drank sparkling Moscato?