Ok, I’m ready, let’s get this trip started! I’ve packed some snacks, and I made this cool road-trip playlist so we can just jam out while we…what’s that? We’re already there? Oh. Well, great. That’s cool. It’s just that I spent a long time making this playlist…
I know when I think “trip to Wisconsin”, I’m thinking I have to settle in for a long hour of driving. Not so! Negret Wine Company in Hudson, WI is just a stone’s throw away from the border across the St. Croix river. (Note: I did not actually throw a stone over the river to check, citation needed.)
Negret Wine Company is a charming winery with modern nautically-themed decor, very friendly staff, tasty snacks, and seriously exceptional wine.
There’s a regular tour once daily Friday through Sunday, led by owner and winemaker Vincent Negret which I highly recommend. It’s an enjoyable 2+ hours of one part tour, one part wine tasting, a dash of chemistry class, and two generous parts of storytelling.
An Odyssey from Bogota, Colombia to… Hudson, Wisconsin
Negret’s story starts 77 years ago in Colombia, and Vincent spins a riveting yarn of wine, corruption, drug cartels, immigration, and the American Dream.
His grandfather began making wine during WWII…out of raisins! A history like that really makes you appreciate what’s in your glass today. (Raisin wine never caught on, did it?) Vincent learned the art of winemaking at his father’s knee as a wee child. Years later, he trained in Fresno to better prepare to take over the family tradition.
In the 1990’s he was strong-armed out of the family business in Bogota by the infamous Cali cartel. Initially, the cartel tried to buy him out, then after he refused the cartel went to all the competitors, and had them set their prices so ridiculously low that he could not compete. This was a popular racket in Colombia at the time, as Colombia was a place of revolt and political upheaval, and Vincent began the arduous process of moving to the United States.
He initially worked at a winery in Alexandria, Minnesota – after a few more stops along the way which took him from Minnesota to Ohio and back, he finally was able to open his own winery, Negret, in 2015. The journey was long and hard, but the results are definitely worth it!
The way Vincent tells his story along the tour is both incredibly engaging and very moving. Intrigued to hear the full details of his fascinating tale? I recommend you take a tour yourself and get the full scoop!
Advice from a lifelong professional
When it comes to waiting for wine to mature, Vincent suggests, “Don’t wait! Take it home and drink it!” Most winemakers intend their wines to be ready for drinking the moment they hit the market, and letting bottled wine ’mature’ for years to improve its flavor is largely unnecessary. Vincent also warns against paying outrageous sums for ‘prestige wine’.
Here are some personal highlights from the wine tasting flights:
Whites & Blushes
- Golden Castle – Smells like pure honey. This semi-sweet blend is like drinking nectar, finishes round and mellow on the tongue with a lingering sweetness.
- Amor – This blush is as seductive as its name, with a scent like perfume on skin; sweet, but a hint of sultry spice. There’s a kiss of tropical fruit that comes late as a pleasant surprise.
- Carrerra 33 – A dry, full red that you can really sink your teeth into. Complex and rich, with an almost meaty mouthfeel.
- The Hudsonite – A red wine for those who don’t prefer reds, this sweet, delicate wine smells like woodland berries and tastes like a white wine that has donned a red evening gown for night on the town.
Those are just four out of the ten varieties currently available. Try the rest out yourself and decide which are your favorite!
Negret Wine Company is located 310 2nd Street, Hudson, WI 54016. Production tours are $5/person and are held Fri: 6:30pm, Sat: 5pm, and Sun 3pm.