So how do you break into the wine business in a category largely destroyed by Bartles and Jaymes in the 1990's? If you are Josh Rosenstein, you create a very accessible and refreshing wine spritzer out of top quality ingredients. It sounds easy right? Well actually it's not, but Josh can do a better job providing the details.
What is your wine background?
Well, I have more or less been drinking wine since I could first pick up a cup. That’s normal right?
No, my background is actually as a chef, so working in restaurants over the years I was always surrounded by an array of talented and knowledgeable wine buffs, somms, wine makers and, of course, chefs themselves. It was just natural for some of that to rub off on me. I definitely wouldn’t claim to have a formal background in wine, but I’ve learned from the best how to cater to people’s pallets.
How did Hoxie Spritzer come into being?
Drinking a lot of wine spritzers while cooking on the line!
Hahaha that's the truth...
After working in restaurants for a long time, I left that world to start doing private dinners. I would mostly cook over wood fire and pair wine based cocktails and spritzers with the food. At one dinner a friend (coincidentally now my business partner) said, “you should really bottle these.” My initial reaction was that she was nuts, but on a whim I listened to her anyway. I did some research and a week later I came back to her and said, “Okay. If we can do this, make them delicious, and keep the crap out... I’m in.” That was almost 4 years ago and we just launched at the beginning of April 2015.
How are Hoxie Spritzers different than wine coolers?
Where do I begin?! I’d say first off, what people think of as a “wine cooler” today is made with malt liquor. “Wine coolers” have not been made with wine for over 20 years if you can believe that. Hoxie is made with wine, plain and simple. There is ZERO malt liquor in Hoxie. I don’t even know what other junk is in wine coolers but I can assure you none of it is in Hoxie. I love watching the surprise on peoples’ faces when they taste Hoxie and realize it’s nothing like the wine coolers they remember from their youth. Their eyes tend to light up and they'll let out a big "WOW."
What kind of wine is used when making the spritzers?
The Lemon Linden Blossom is made with white Catawba and the Lemon Ginger is made with pink Catawba mixed with a little Norton. Fun fact: the Catawba grape was the first in the country ever used to make sparkling wine.
How involved are you, if at all, in the winemaking process?
I’m not involved at all in the winemaking process, but I’m heavily involved in choosing the wine we use for our spritzers.
Which of your spritzers represent your vision best?
That’s like asking me to choose a favorite child! My vision was and continues to be to bottle delicious wine spritzers with zero junk in them. If either of the flavors didn’t represent my vision we wouldn’t have released them.
I’ll give you this: I grew up in New York City and spent much of my youth in Riverside and Central Park. Both are chock full of Linden trees and in the spring their blossoms give off a sweet almost honey-like smell. The Lemon Linden Blossom Hoxie reminds me of that – it’s a powerful sense memory that transports me to my childhood.
Are you working on any new flavor combinations?
Yes, very hard! Our new flavor is going to be based on a red wine… the rest is top secret for now. Lots of stuff in the works.
What are some of you biggest challenges marketing and selling your spritzers?
A wine spritzer in a bottle doesn’t really exist right now, so educating the consumer is a big challenge for us. Essentially, we are creating a whole new category.
Do you tell consumers how best to enjoy your spritzers? Specific serving suggestions? How about food pairing?
Other than drinking Hoxie ice-cold, we don’t. There are no rules. I just want people to enjoy it. It’s good straight out of the bottle, poured in a glass with or without ice, or even mixed in drinks. There is a bartender at Elysian in Los Angeles, Mark Hendrixs, who recently made three incredible drinks all using Hoxie. We are definitely going to continue to work with Mark and other great bartenders around the city, to create more drinks using Hoxie as a base. I’m looking to bring the wine world and the mixology world together and what better way to do that than over drinks.
Food wise, Hoxie pairs really well with spicy foods and bold flavors. Anything from Thai to say a smoky charred burger hot off the grill.
Where can consumers get Hoxie Spritzers?
Right now Hoxie Spritzers are in roughly 30 places in Los Angeles (a few of the Los Angeles stores can ship Hoxie to other states that allow direct shipments of alcohol), one place in San Diego, one place in Brooklyn, and, just last week, Jenna Congdon -- who runs this really cool wine shop called The Station, in San Luis Obispo, California-came down and picked up a few cases to start selling. All the stores and restaurants that carry Hoxie Spritzers are listed on our website www.hoxiespritzer.com, or you can check out our Instagram @hoxiespritzer to see what we are up to.
Do you have a tasting room or equivalent for consumers to try your spritzers?
We don’t. I’ve thought about trying to set that up, so who knows what the future holds. For now though people can often find me pouring samples at the various places we sell.