Fine Wines

Micca Hutchins’ encore enterprise

By Rae Sanders | Photographed by Sunny Frantz

Micca Hutchins has a thing for good wine—especially wine from Southern France, made by family vintners with generations of experience.

It was during her travels in France as a college student, and later, her time in Europe when her husband was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam War, that Hutchins really developed a passion for French wine.

Years later, long after settling in Wisconsin and after a career in a dizzying variety of fields, Hutchins started ruminating on wine again, and on the paucity of good, affordable, French varieties in Wisconsin.

So, she launched French Farm-to-Table Wines, a vineyard-direct enterprise meant to bring the lavish and joyful culture of French wine to Wisconsin at a reasonable price.

Farm-to-Table Wines isn’t Hutchins’ first rodeo in the business world. She has done everything from magazine editing to internet content strategy to project management and business development.

In the beginning stages of developing French Farm-to-Table Wines, she and her husband traveled all over France to find the right wine to invest in. They ultimately settled on the Languedoc-Roussillon region, located on the coast of southern France and the largest wine producing region in the world.

They discovered that the region’s farmers and vineyards still made reasonably-priced yet delectable wine that, “…represents the noble endeavors of hardworking wine growers, farmers, just like in Wisconsin,” Hutchins says.

Hutchins says running the business has been both joyful and educational. “It’s always a matter of learning the lessons as fast as you can and recognizing not only what the lessons are, but how they’re important and critical cornerstone components of your success,” Hutchins says.

She learned that using a distributor would compromise the mission of selling affordable wines, which prompted her to become a vineyard-direct merchant so she could set the price.

The joy comes from the many compliments she’s received on her selections. “In business and in careers, since I’ve had quite a few, there really aren’t many that you get those kind of kudos, or that kind of direct feedback.”

Fellow businesswoman Deb Watterson, a French Farm-to-Table Wine customer and owner of Sugar River Pizza Company, says she’s wowed by the wine and the woman.

“She’s so authentic, so real and so knowledgeable,” Watterson says. “She’s so passionate about getting the best wine to her customers, and I can tell that.”

Watterson also had experience in several fields before she started her business. “I think we’re perfectly trained to do what we do. It just took decades to hone that in. She acts like she’s 30, but she happens to have all the experience behind her.”

Hutchins’ is driven by the potential to make a mark in the world, one wine at a time. “Being able to put a program together, to follow it forward, to bring it to fruition and to bring a good result that leaves a lasting, positive mark, there’s really nothing better that you can do.”

Hutchins has this to say to women who are contemplating their next act: “Be creative and energetic. Don’t be afraid of risks and be true to yourself.”

And, above all, Hutchins says to remember: “There’s no reason why you can’t do it.”

 

Read about another entrepreneur featured in our Thrive After 55 series who’s only gotten better with age: Susan Colby.