Peter Willmert ’93

Joe Engleman ’14

Peter Willmert ’93 took a winding road to Napa Valley in California, but the results have proved worth the journey. Willmert is CEO of Hudson Ranch and Vineyards, a working farm with a general store in Napa. The vineyards grow grapes for Hudson wines and other wineries.

“We manage all of that in a way which, hopefully, is thoughtful, sustainable, and in the pursuit of excellence,” Willmert says. “When you think about wine and how it’s different from so many other things you might consume, wine connects people to a place and a time in a way that very few other things do.”

After an early career in politics, Willmert realized he wasn’t interested in continuing campaigning. He decided to pursue a master’s in business administration at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School. Even though he saw major wine companies recruiting in the hallways of Kellogg, professors encouraged him not to be too quick to specialize. Their advice was to go and work for a “nuts and bolts” company for a few years.

The MBA and a stint at Johnson & Johnson “gave me a foundation across disciplines,” Willmert says. “It gave me a foundation to build upon, which is how I think about Grinnell, too.”


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