What began as an original family recipe has become a beloved sauce that can be found in stores everywhere, and Keeper of the Sauce David Wilson said it all stems back to his uncle’s masterpieces in the kitchen.
Wilson, a Delta native, said the idea for what is now known as “HogWine” originated in Greenville in 1976. His uncle, Fig Newton, developed an original sauce that resembled apple cider vinegar. Wilson recalled the sauce being on an indoor rotisserie and described it as “absolutely delightful in sight and taste.”
Wilson described his uncle as a true southern gentleman who could drink an adult beverage, smoke a cigarette, and play a round of golf with one arm, as he had lost his right arm in a farming accident when he was 30.
“My uncle was one of the finest chefs I knew growing up in the middle of the Mississippi Delta and he would dominate the kitchen and create sauces and marinades from whatever ingredients were within arm's length,” Wilson said. “Watching him create masterpieces is what inspired me to create HogWine in the comfort of my own kitchen.”
Years later, Wilson emulated his uncle’s creation as best he could, and it became a smash hit right off the bat. Over the next two decades, Wilson made the sauce for an excess of around 10,000 people and recalls his children always telling him about someone new coming to the door asking if they could have some of the sauce.
After being asked more times than he could remember about when he would start botting and selling the sauce, Wilson finally conceded to his family and friends, and what began as an experiment in 1976 became affectionately known today as “HogWine,” and is based right here in Madison.
The sauce is made from a blend of 17 herbs, spices, and other fresh ingredients and can be basted over meat or vegetables, or used as a dipping sauce.
“When you try to mass produce a sauce, you find that it can be difficult,” Wilson said. “I first went to Panola Pepper Company, which is based in Louisiana, and talked with a wonderful young man there named Bubba Brown. I knew I wanted four different characteristics for the sauce: color, aroma, texture, and taste. After not being able to replicate it there, I was led to Reed Food Technology in Pearl, who started making our sauce.
Originally, the sauce was called “HogWash,” but after selling around 50,000 bottles, Wilson found out a woman in Texas had already trademarked the name. Thinking on his feet, Wilson decided to change the name to HogWine and discovered that name was still fair game.
In September 2022, Wilson and his son, David M. Wilson (known as Keeper of the Dream) traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas, the home of Walmart, to pitch the sauce to their store shelves.
“They told us we had a two percent chance of success,” Wilson said. “We made it, and we’re very blessed. Walmart told us in October 2022 that they would like to have us, and on January 6, 2023, they informed us they wanted to put HogWine in 614 stores. The company wouldn’t be here without my son, David, and our advertising guru, Matt Whitfield, also known as ‘Keeper of the Brand.’ Matt works with a PR company called Spicy Pixl, and they’ve done well targeting the areas HogWine is in with their marketing. And with that, the team was complete. God was at the helm, and we found that HogWine sells itself if given a try. Our duty was clear: get it in the hands of people that cook, and people that don’t.”
Wilson said that with everything HogWine does, he tries to invoke a different place in time with his product. He said the company believes in loosening up and having fun with the customers.
“We think fun times with good friends and family gatherings that include laughter, patriotism, and giving thanks to God help bond our customers and build trust with our brand,” Wilson said. “Years ago, HogWine placed a bet on itself.”
He said it always warms his heart knowing what is now a box store success originated in the Mississippi Delta.
Today, HogWine can be found in various box stores in the Southeast such as Walmart, Kroger, and Piggly Wiggly, and local stores right here in Madison County such as Mac’s Grocery in Ridgeland. Wilson noted he is also attempting to get HogWine into Costco and is working on developing a larger bottle to go with the store’s bigger bulk products. Wilson said the sauce is even making its way to restaurants in large gallon-sized containers, including some places in Latin America. The sauce can also be ordered off Amazon and the HogWine website.
HogWine is best served on things like steak, pork, fish, baked chicken, baked potatoes, and chicken wings, but it even works with foods like mushrooms and crackers.
The company sells the original HogWine sauce blend, Hogwine Reserve, a Keto-friendly version of the sauce, and HogWine dry rub, which uses the same blend of spices as the sauce.
Wilson said even today, his company is based on old-time values and he believes the sauce can be a staple at cookouts and social gatherings. He believes that no one can truly emulate what HogWine is about, since it is more than just a sauce.
“We are selling a good time,” he said. “It’s a family thing, and it’s something we created that is a feel good process. We’re still building the company and we’ve tried to associate ourselves with the best of manufacturers. We have a method to our madness. Building a company from scratch has been both challenging and fulfilling, and numerous people have contacted HogWine asking how to build their own company.”
For more information about HogWine, you can visit the company’s website at www.hogwine.com, or call David Wilson at (662) 378-7888.