A Q+A with Andrea Hillsey

Owner of Square Wine Company
By Corey Dane
Photos by Josh Witzel


Wine and Cheese Taste for a Cure | June 11 | Square Wine Company | 6-8 p.m.

Join BRAVA Publisher Michelle Reddington for a delectable fundraiser to raise money for JDRF. Reddington will pedal her bike100 miles in Death Valley this year to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Come taste California wines with Square Wine Company owner Andrea Hillsey. Pairings include wild-morel-and-leek jack and chipotle cheddar from Meister Cheese Company. There is a suggested $20 donation at the door for the tasting, plus you’ll have a chance to win fabulous raffle prizes.


Q: What are some of the most stellar things you’ve sipped this year?

A: I’ve been impressed by sherries imported by De Maison and European Cellars, Bereche and Tarlant Champagnes, the 2013 Arnot-Roberts, Trout Gulch Vineyard Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz mountains and anything from Clos Rougeard. (It’s also common knowledge that I adore Burgundy, Austrian Riesling, Piedmont reds and anything Arianna Occhipinti or Elisabetta Foradori.)

Q: Does Price Matter?

A: We have wines for less than $15 and they are perfectly serviceable, but Eric Asimov, The New York Times’ wine writer, believes $20 is the magic price. Spending more money doesn’t always mean the wine will be better, but I try to carry wines that justify the increase in price because of appellation, production numbers and vine age. In my opinion, to get an honestly made wine, you’ll spend $15 to $30.

Q: What are you most excited to imbibe this season?

A: I get embarrassingly excited about rose season because they are one of the few wines I can afford to drink on a regular basis. They are the freshest wines on the planet, a great way to taste high-end producers at a much more affordable price point and extremely food friendly because you get the acidity of white wine with a texture you find in many lighter reds.

Q: What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

A: For me, the most stressful time was getting all of our ducks in a row upon opening. We didn’t open the shop with a ton of money, so coordinating the timing of when our lease began with the many license approvals needed was the most difficult. I didn’t want to be wasting money paying for a space that we weren’t licensed to sell wine in. Now, the biggest challenge is in finding a work-life balance. I always wanted a career that didn’t feel like work and I think I have achieved that, but the same way it never feels like work can make it always feel like work. There is no punching a clock, my mind is always racing with new, fresh ideas for tastings, dinners and just general ways to improve what we are doing.


Hillsey offers Friday night and Saturday afternoon tastings. 5 N. Pinckney St., Madison. (608) 819-6191. squarewineco.com.

Check out p. 70 of BRAVA Magazine’s May edition for more on Andrea Hillsey and her Square Wine Company.