April is ‘Michigan Wine Month’

Published 2:29 pm Monday, March 29, 2010


Pictured are winemaker Matt Moersch (left) and his brother Chris, general manager at the Round Barn Winery in Baroda. The Round Barn is part of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. The governor this week declared April "Michigan Wine Month." (File photo)

Michigan seems to be forging ahead in its determination to make a name for itself in the grape and wine industry, falling in lines with other states dominant in production such as California and New York.

And as the season gets into full swing, Michigan has declared next month – it’s all about the wine.

The governor on Wednesday declared April “Michigan Wine Month.”

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the state’s wine sales reportedly rose 10 percent in 2009. The department also said that sales have “outpaced total wine sales for the pat 10 years,” which doubled Michigan’s market share.

“Michigan’s grape and wine industry continues to grow with seven new wineries slated to open this year,” Granholm said. “Not only is our wine industry a vital component of the state’s agricultural sector, its also an important part of our tourism industry as hundreds of thousands of people visit Michigan’s Wine Country each year.”

Local producer Matt Moersch of Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery agrees.
“I think it’s definitely one of the thriving industries in our area, especially now that (the automobile industry) has kind of declined,” Moersch said.

According to the winery’s Web site, Moersch became the company’s winemaker in 2002 10 years after his father founded the business.

He also is co-founder of Free Run Winery, which got its start in 2006.

Michigan, he said, especially southwest Michigan is a prime spot for growing and creating quality wines.

“The fact that Michigan is right here, it tempers the winter,” he said. “We don’t get as cold as, say for instance, Illinois or somebody like that who can only make hybrid varieties. The lake itself is the reason why we can grow all these things here, grapes, peaches, apricots.”

Moersch agrees that the impact of Michigan’s wine industry on local economies is not simply through direct sales of product but in drawing in tourism to the area, with more people spending more time, spending their money on local businesses.

“It’s definitely a tourist based industry,” he said.

People can show support not only in taking part in events such as the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival in June, featuring wineries such as Round Barn and others along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail but Moersch said, can make a difference in every bottle.
“Just buying the products at the grocery store, you know, and telling their friends and family. You can buy that four- or five-dollar bottle of wine from Argentina but that doesn’t support our local economy whatsoever.”

The industry is growing, he said, as more winemakers continue to develop new techniques and room for even more wineries to get started.

“I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg honestly, right now,” Moersch said, adding that the area is home to around a dozen wineries. “That’s minute compared to any other wine region in the world.

“I think we’re just getting started, honestly,” he said. “I think it’s very promising.”

For more information on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, visit www.miwinetrail.com. For more information on Round Barn, visit www.roundbarnwinery.com.