Bright pink walls frame a lobby emblazoned with clever sayings as to why we all would rather be drinking rosé. Dozens of young women hug, holler and take selfies. Before they’re accompanied upstairs to tour 14 different rosé-themed rooms – decorated with pink flamingos, rose petal-filled bathtubs and gaudily pink-painted faux, ancient Roman statues – they have to take the Rosé Mansion oath that they will not stand on anything that swings, or rip things off the walls.
Of course nothing inappropriate has ensued, but it is a fun way to welcome guests. Keeping the tone fun and everyone upbeat has not been hard over the past months and the museum/education/fun house experience has been sold out almost every day.
An Instagrammable experience
More than 5,000 people, mostly Millennial women and tourists, have been visiting the New York pop-up per week and Tyler Balliet, the establishment’s co-founder, estimates that they are going through 200 to 300 bottles of wine a day. A regular visit costs $45.00 and includes eight, roughly one-ounce (28g) pours of wine. So far, the only complaints on Yelp have harped on the fact that guests have been served too little wine.
After the Mansion visit, the bar is open for by-the-glass and bottle service until about 11:00pm every night. The 100-plus wines served hail from everywhere from Lebanon to Maryland and include a non-reactive hemp wine, made from the cannabis plant. The wines range in price from $36.00 to $350.00 for a bottle of Krug Rosé.
An early afternoon happy-hour experience is offered for $35.00 and there’s a Saturday rosé and tarot card reading session that costs $20.00 for second-time visitors. An average visit lasts an hour or so and feels like an amusement park visit driven by lots of oestrogen and photo-worthy moments.
The vision behind the mansion
Balliet said that he and partner Morgan First created the experience to cater to a demographic that is interested in wine but may not want to read a full-length tome on it. The idea is that a visit to the rosé roadshow should feel like an excursion to a huge, fun bar. He added that while the restaurant business has done a great job of reinventing the dining experience, “no one has really done that with beverage”. “These are consumers who drink a lot of wine and know what they like and they are not a demographic to whom the wine industry is catering,” he concluded.
Balliet wrote about wine for the Boston Globe for three years and most notably managed to create close to 50 Millennial-focused tastings under the Wine Riot event banner from 2009 until he sold the company in 2016. When he and First decided to create a Wine Riot-inspired experiential and educational experience with rosé wines, things went from zero to 2,000 in 10 weeks. The July opening in a retail space on New York’s Fifth Avenue – formerly occupied by a retailer known as Charming Charlie – was slated to last just 12 weeks but has been extended to 21 October for a total run of 14-plus weeks.
Balliet said he was trying to create an environment that captures a unique educational, photographable and storytelling moment. He also said that he wanted to create a more intimate experience for his guests. The staff of 60 was hired in close to two days. Many are actors and have an intense level of energy in sharing directions about how to navigate the experience and their insight on rosés. The wines, which generally don’t change, are primarily dry but some – such as Gallo’s Apothic and Maison Marcel, which is produced in Provence – have fairly high residual sugar levels which may well appeal to a younger consumer base.
Balliet says that the E. & J. Gallo Winery was one of the pop-up’s sponsors and that all its wines, including Apothic and Dark Horse, are poured at the Mansion. Gallo did not respond to requests for comments and Balliet would not share how much it paid to be a sponsor, nor would he elaborate on the revenue that the Mansion has been making over the summer season.
Numbers aside, judging by the noise ringing through the place, the Rosé Mansion is clearly a success
Liza B. Zimmerman