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Odilon Ford Winery

Madison, WI


Crusin' Rating: B-

Booze Rating: B+


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Wine Beer Distillery Blogger- Oldilon Ford Winery

This week we are checking out a winery that has flown under our radar despite it being right under our noses on the East Side of Madison. Odilon Ford Winery is situated off of Stoughton Road and while there’s been wine produced there since 2016, it’s only been in the past two years that the licensure came through, allowing the tasting room to open in October 2022. We typically don’t get to hit up many wineries as they often closed or switch to limited hours for the winter months so we counted ourselves lucky to find one that was open so close to home.

Odilon Ford sits in a fairly nondescript building with a small open sign. As snow poured down and afternoon began to fade into evening, we pulled up to a squat, one story building that looked like it housed a one or two fairly industrial businesses. Once again, with our GPS insisting we were in the right place, we crunched through the snow and up to the door, not entirely sure what we were going to find. We walked in to what was clearly a little wine shop, but devoid of people. We hesitated for a moment, thinking that we may have stumbled into a spot that wasn’t yet ready to host the public, or just stumbled in when the winery had closed early due to snow. Both had happened and we wouldn’t have been surprised if that was the case. Those thoughts were soon brushed aside as a fellow came out to greet us and asked us if we’d like to try some wine.

The caveat of this trip, is that, although we learned a lot, it was a tasting that was both complimentary and guided, and in an effort not to be rude, I took sparse notes. We have run into similar issues before both at Aeppeltreow and Three Lakes Winery. The guided tastings, while always incredibly informative, don’t always make for the best atmosphere to be writing in. Although scribbling furiously, I couldn't help but feel a little rushed.

The tasting room is made up of a small counter with standing room only. Various farm-related decorations adorn the walls wtih racks of bottles for sale. We later discovered that there was a small back area with seating for perhaps four and more racks with bottles for sale. It looked to us that the back of the building was used for production and the two rooms that we saw were reserved for retail and tasting. I could see it easily getting crowded if we brought several guest reviewers with us. I suppose a small tasting room is better than none though!

Our tasting was complimentary which is always appreciated but what really set our tasting apart was the guided nature from the owner. While it wasn’t the greatest for tasting notes - the samples being ½ oz each - it did allow us to taste every wine and hear a little bit about each wine from the maker as well as bounce some rapid-fire questions off of him, as fast as I was able. Jerrold, the owner, is a meteorologist for The University of Wisconsin- Madison and gave us a one-of-a-kind perspective on how the climate, specifically in Wisconsin makes for good grape growing. I know we have long touted Wisconsin as a grape growing region with some cursory knowledge of topography and climate but it was reaffirming to hear a subject matter expert speak on the merits of the climate in Wisconsin. Jerrold, as he walked us through the wine tasting, provided facts on various cloud formations and atmospheric phenomena that the wines get their namesakes from as well as discussing how Wisconsin’s unique geography relates to climate and grape cultivation.

For instance, Jerrold discussed the benefits of having his vineyard, Sampson Valley Vineyard, near Green Bay, Wisconsin. There were some technical terms that we didn’t quite understand but we were able to glean that location near Green Bay (the body of water) led warmer, milder weather that’s favorable to the grapes.

While we weren’t able to make extensive tasting notes while there, the entire tasting was complimentary and we liked a few of them enough to buy some bottles to bring home, least of which was a sparkling Lambrusco which is a wine that may be too sweet for some. For me though, it’s my mom’s favorite and I have yet to find a Wisconsin-made Lambrusco. If you know of any others, drop us a line! It was an easy buy for me.

Fractus 2021 (13.5% ABV) - This is one of the bottles we took home and our in-depth spotlight review. Fractus clouds are broken up small clouds that usually hang out a little lower than a storm and are fast moving. Definitely have seen some myself and never had any idea that they had their own name! Take a peak for some Fractus clouds this spring!

This robust red wine is full of tart red cherries and some syrupy strawberries on the nose. The same tart red cherries come through when tasting along with a little bit of raspberry and oak. Grown from Petite Pearl and Frontenac grapes, which are, unfortunately, not Wisconsin cultivars but Petite Pearl is from our neighbors in Minnesota. This dry red would easily go with some grilled steak, red sauce pasta, and aged cheese. This was another easy pick from us to bring home and have with dinner.

Nimbus Blanc 2020 (12% ABV) - This one named after a cloud that I am sure you’ve heard of, we ended up bringing two bottles of this white home for the rest of the team to try. This white wine featured wildflower, pear, and citrus on the nose. A little bit of prairie funkiness wove its way between peaches and pears when tasting and gave it a little something memorable. This wine was bright and dry enough to almost be a champagne. The Pet-Nat (pétillant naturel) is a wine style where wine is bottled during primary fermentation and the natural sugars in the grapes provide the bubbles. It’s become quite a trendy style in recent years and Odilon Ford is the only winery we know of that is serving up several of these in their tasting room. Sparkling, dry white makes for a great toasting wine, so this was an easy choice for us to bring to a party.

Odilon Ford was one of those spots that we were happy to stumble upon and turned out to be one of the most educational tastings in recent memory. While we would have loved the space to be a little larger and to be able to taste at our own pace, the trade-off was an in-depth walkthrough of Wisconsin weather and a wine style that was new to us. We love Wisconsin wine, and we love fruit wines. Usually though, we find ourselves somewhat pigeonholed into Wisconsin wines that are almost entirely sweet, with some exceptions mixed in, or wines that are more classical, but not made from Wisconsin grapes. Odilon Ford is one of the wineries that solved that problem for us by giving us wine options with either Wisconsin, Minnesota and some old world grapes mixed in. This is one of those wineries that, while maybe not suited for a large group to visit, is definitely a winery that we are going to be keeping an eye on should they choose to expand and we will definitely be watching out to pick up some of their wines in our local stores. If you’re in Madison, there’s really no reason not to try them out!

Until next time, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!

To learn more about Odilon Ford, please visit their website at: or on Facebook: Odlion Ford Winery Inc. or on Instagram:@OdlionFordWinery

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