Better with age
Published 9:14 am Friday, April 11, 2014
Round Barn Winery grabbing honors in 34th year
BARODA—Seeing as April is “Michigan Wine Month,” and the Round Barn Winery has just been named one of the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” for 2014, wine lovers may want to celebrate by uncorking a bottle of the Baroda-based company’s products.
From humble beginnings, the family-run business has grown year after year, always innovating and expanding their product line.
“This will be our 34th year in the wine business in Michigan as a family. We planted the vineyard the same year as we bought the property here, so that would have been 1981,” said Chris Moersch, director of brewing operations and son of the founder, Rick Moersch.
“My father sold the grapes to Tabor Hill, and that was actually how we were able to raise enough money to open our own place in 1992. Every dime we’ve ever made, we’ve put back into the business.”
Originally, the winery was called the Heart of the Vineyard, but after the Moersch family decided to expand into distilling spirits, they purchased an authentic, Amish-built round barn in 1996.
“We wanted a unique building to house our still,” Moersch said. “We decided that we needed a round building with no corners for the bad spirits to hide in. So, it’s part of the lore of the round barns, and it kind of made sense.”
After several years of explaining that they were indeed the vineyard with the round barn—one of only two in the state of Michigan, the Moersch family decided to fully embrace the unique structure, and they renamed the company in 2004.
“That made it a lot easier for people to remember our name,” Moersch said.
Then, when they added their brewing operation in 2007, Round Barn became the first Michi-gan company to produce wine, spirits and beer.
“I take care of the brewery and the public house, and my brother, Matt, is the winemaker and the distiller here,” Chris Moersch explained.
It’s that kind of entrepreneurial spirit and creative innovation that earned the Round Barn Winery, Distillery & Brewery their latest accolade.
Companies on the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list are considered second-stage companies. Defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capita, these are companies considered as forming the backbone of Michigan’s economy.
“It’s very exciting, and certainly unexpected,” Moersch said of the award, which they will receive on May 6 in Lansing. “Bob Jones from Kinexus mentioned the award project, and he submitted us, and we were lucky enough to receive that award.”
Not content to rest on their laurels, the Moersches have continued to expand their product line, releasing two new wine varieties this year.
“Things are always growing,” Moersch said. “We’re always developing new products. This year, we’re releasing our first vintages of Sauvignon Blanc and another variety, Albarino,” Moersch said. “To me, it’s kind of between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Gris. It has a really nice fruit character, and it does real well in this type of climate.”
Together with their many other varieties of white and red wine, these two new wines, which are rather rare in this region, bring the list of Round Barn offerings to roughly 25. Chris and his brother, Matt, also own their own label, Free Run Cellars, which offers about 12 more varieties.
One of those many varieties is sure to compliment any Easter dinner, from the traditional to the exotic. Moersch suggested trying the Pinot Gris or Riesling with ham and the Pinot Noir if lamb is on the menu.
Although the Moersches continue to identify Round Barn as a family company, they now employ nearly 100 people seasonally. In fact, they have doubled their staff in the last four to five years, according to Moersch.
“It is a family business, but we’ve grown to a point where we’ve run out of family to man all the positions,” Moersch explained. “We’ve been really blessed to have some great people working for us, and that really shows in the loyalty of our customers, and it continues to push our business forward.”
Those employees make sure that customers enjoy Round Barn’s products at the Baroda Tasting Room and Estate, located at 10983 Hills Rd., as well as at the Union Pier Tasting Room and the Round Barn Brewery and Public House in Baroda.
Round Barn products are also available at a wide variety of supermarkets and liquor stores as well as from the company’s website at www.roundbarnwinery.com. The company can be reached by phone at (800) 716-9463.
“Round Barn is the culmination of 30-plus years of the proverbial ‘blood, sweat, and tears,’ literally,” Moersch said. “We’ve built a very loyal following, and that speaks very highly of the people who have worked for us and contribute to work for us. They’re basically an extension of our family.”