Barry Bayat

Founder | Rumor

Industry
Wine

Location
New York


Barry Bayat: The Founder of the New Rosé Everyone Is Drinking This Summer on Making Wine During a Pandemic

Barry Bayat is founder of Rumor, a premium rosé produced and bottled in Provence, France—the heart of rosé country. After many years in the corporate world, Bayat pivoted and turned his intrinsic passion for hospitality into a new full-time career. For years, Bayat maintained a strong connection to the hospitality industry, with a deep affection for restaurants, hotels, and travel. He credits his Persian heritage for his love of hosting and bringing people together, something that has always come naturally. It wasn’t until the vision for Rumor came to him that he discovered the right avenue to fulfill his aspirations. Extensive travel, research, and meetings allowed Bayat to find the perfect cuvée in partnership with the respected Commanderie de Peyrassol vineyard, where together a masterful blend of the finest grapes was assembled, resulting in a high-quality, light rosé that debuted in 2019. Bayat’s spirit, enthusiasm, and resilience remain the driving force behind Rumor, resulting in its steadfast success both overseas and in the US, where it is poured at some of the most prestigious hotels, restaurants, and bars.

What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19?

I never like to look at anything through a negative lens. COVID is just a bump in the road on this long journey. I look back on how we handled the financial crisis in 2008–2009. I’m taking what I learned from that time and not using COVID as an excuse, but rather looking to my successes, whether big or small, and continuing to drive Rumor forward. For example, I’m not sure I would have been able to assemble the same team if we weren’t in this pandemic. I’m lucky to have them, and they show me good things can happen in dark times. Launching a new brand during COVID has been interesting, to say the least, but timing is timing. It’s out of our control. It’s impacted our business as many of our clients and consumers are limited in operations due to government controls, which resulted in a backup of their inventory. The majority of restaurants, hotels, and retailers weren’t purchasing product, not to mention investing in a new brand. They were focused on selling what they had in stock and having to navigate keeping their own businesses afloat. Luckily now we’re starting to see a shift. 

Rumor rosé launched in 2019 and has quickly become a cult favorite.

One of the biggest curveballs we experienced has been the ban in travel to Europe. It prohibited me from being at the vineyard for the bottling of the new vintage and reengaging with my accounts overseas. This delayed a ton for us.

What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation? 

The Rumor strategy is to continue to go after quality accounts—online, retail, restaurants, hotels, etc. I want to show our potential partners that, even during the hardest of times, with continued work and hustle, a new brand can succeed. In early March, when COVID was hitting the US hard, I had to keep my head high and capitalize on that time to think about shifting our model. I believe when faced with challenging times, good leaders are always able to shift their business strategy and we did just that. We launched Rumor with the goal of working with some of the best on-premise partners. With many of them being closed, we put efforts into online and direct-to-consumer brands as well as Rumor for house and vacation rentals in Malibu and the Hamptons. We’re fortunate to work with some great partners like Christian Navarro at Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Beverly Hills, who helped us continue to grow during COVID through local delivery and national online sales. 

One of the biggest curveballs we experienced has been the ban in travel to Europe. It prohibited me from being at the vineyard for the bottling of the new vintage and reengaging with my accounts overseas. This delayed a ton for us.

The vineyards in Provence that grow the grapes for Rumor.

How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now? 

COVID was a hard reset for the world. There’s no doubt it’s going to change the way the industry conducts business as the pandemic resulted in large shocks to both demand and supply. I think pricing, inventory, and payment plans will all be important. Restaurants, hotels, and retailers will all have to treat clients differently and be more flexible as we too will be doing from our end. Luckily, in our industry, we all have one shared goal: making people happy.

One of Bayat’s challenges during COVID-19 has been the inability to visit France, where the rosé is produced.

What have you learned from other difficult times in the past? 

Mistakes are important. It’s cliché, but we really do learn from them. A mistake I often see are new startups raising funds before they have a product in hand or any proven success. From my experience, I’ve learned that isn’t always the best way to go about launching a company. I made the decision not to raise until I had a product that was liked by the masses. I gave up a salary, tapped my own contacts and resources, and set off on my own to build a company I believed in. I spent the summer of 2019 traveling to nine different countries, 21 different cities, and took over 70 flights to get Rumor in the hands of notable restaurants and hotels across Europe and America. I was laying a foundation and developing a proven track record for Rumor. I give 100% of my time to Rumor so when I go out to raise funding for the company, I can show them exactly what they’re investing in. I’ve always done this for my own investments. It’s important to look at the leaders and their work before making the decision to invest.

Rumor founder Barry Bayat.

Safe–and entertained–at home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime

 

Morning routine?
Every day starts the same: a light workout, coffee, and packing up my backpack with bottles of Rumor. I spend my days traveling to different cities going from tasting to tasting or checking in on our accounts, making sure they’re happy with the product, especially now that we have the new 2019 vintage out. 

Currently binging?
I haven’t been focusing on watching as much the past couple of months since I have been focused on growing the business. 

Currently reading?
On my downtime I like to read inspirational and leadership books as well as The Economist and Vanity Fair.

What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
I’m outdoors most of the day using my time to travel to restaurants and hotels carrying Rumor. I think I’ve driven over 2k miles in the last two months. After the day is over, I have to work with my team in NY, LA, and Europe, so I’m normally up past midnight answering emails and taking calls, but no complaints … I love what I’m doing. 

What is the biggest purchase you made during COVID that made you happy?
I haven’t made any significant personal purchases during COVID, but I can say what did make me happy during this time was purchasing my Rumor rosé inventory for 2020.

What are you doing to stay healthy, mentally and physically?
To be honest, this has been a bit of a challenge for me. As I’m sure you can imagine, tastings and meetings for Rumor are usually accompanied by food. I’ve been exercising every morning when I get up and have been focusing on eating healthy, but sometimes you just need a nice chilled glass of Rumor rosé.

Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
I really only dream about places I can conduct business in. My primary travels have all been for work and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We have Rumor in some amazing locations around the world. I’m looking forward to visiting Mykonos and getting together with Thomas Heyne of Scorpios, one of the first supporters of Rumor, and Andreas Koutoumanos of Alemagou. Would love a trip to Ibiza to see the Mambo brothers at Casa Maca and then head over to Saint-Tropez’s Indie Beach to see Tobias Chaix. From there, I’d head up the coast to the legendary Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Its burger alongside Rumor on that terrace with Philippe Perd, nothing better. I’m also excited to visit more Rosewood properties, some of my favorite, as well as get to New York to see Cobi Levy at Lola Taverna. I’ve been admiring the photos of guests enjoying Rumor in his beautiful outdoor dining setup.


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