“Without passion, there’s not much you can do successfully in life,” says winemaker Sacha Lichine, whose Provence vineyard produces many of the most popular rosé bottlings, including Whispering Angel and Rock Angel.
Spending the summer at his vineyard in Provence was a must for winemaker Sacha Lichine, the “pour-fectionist” behind Château D’Esclans’s Whispering Angel, Rock Angel, Les Clans, and Garrus rosé, among others. The literal fruit of his labor rested on his shoulders. “There are certain decisions, quality-wise, that you have to make, and a lot of the people working for you won’t take the risk,” says Lichine. “Quality starts in the vineyard, and without a good fruit you can’t make a good wine.” Lichine’s decisions have been on point since he purchased the 667-acre estate in 2006. With Château D’Esclans, Lichine is following the career path of his father, esteemed winery owner and writer Alexis Lichine, except that Sacha is blazing his own trail. After selling the family estate, Château Prieuré-Lichine, Lichine used his lifetime of knowledge working in every area of the industry to become the king of rosé. “My father said don’t follow trends—set them,” says the Bordeaux-born, New York-raised Lichine. “That’s what we did with rosé. I started working in the vineyards when I was 14 and I became passionate about it.”
Lichine started selling that passion door to door, in a grassroots marketing campaign that has been successful for him since day one. He launched in Miami in 2007, aiming to reach an international crowd through the South Beach Wine & Food Festival as well as the hotels and restaurants in the city. He connected with hotelier Steve Wynn (who was once a distributor for his father’s wine) in Las Vegas, and now the Wynn jet is stocked with the top-dollar Garrus.
“It’s really being sold at the restaurant and hotel level as well as retail,” Lichine says of rosé.
When Lichine launched Rock Angel in Los Angeles, he had a team of three hit the streets to open 102 accounts in three days. “The best marketing is shaking hands, making friends, and selling wine,” says Lichine. “I wanted to get into all these places—from Bali to Phuket to the Maldives, to the Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula in Hong Kong. I hit the streets and burned some shoe leather. My goal is to get rosé in people’s mouths.”
His future goals are lofty. While he’ll make 415,000 cases of rosé, and distribute to 102 countries this year, he says over the next few years he plans to up that number to 650,000 cases. But for those who have vacationed in St. Barth’s recently, that number seems reasonable. “I think Nikki Beach in St. Barth’s did 180 three-liter bottles of Garrus at 1,000 Euros a crack this season,” says Lichine, who notes that more competition only means the market is getting stronger. “The future is very bright. [Rosé] is sort of the cool thing to drink today, and I think it’s here to stay.”