Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant gets revamp to branding

BUCHANAN — Matthew Moersch practically grew up on the grounds at Tabor Hill Winery. Moersch’s father, Richard Moersch, was a wine maker in the 1980s and he was often accompanied by his son, who would lend a hand in the wine lab or even driving the tractor around the renowned winery’s acres of grapes.

So, it is no surprise that the place Moersch practically felt was a second home is now under his leadership.

Moersch is the CEO of Moersch Hospitality Group, which was founded last year and owns Round Barn Winery, Free Run Cellars. Eleven months ago, the Moersch company also acquired Tabor Hill from the Upton family.

With the goal of refreshing the look of Tabor Hill, a pillar to the southwest Michigan wine trail for almost 50 years, Moersch helped to oversee several branding changes to the venerable establishment he likes to call “Same Vine. New vibes.”

“We are proud to showcase our touch to Tabor Hill now and give it more of that contemporary vibe,” Moersch said. “We want guests that have been to Tabor Hill to know we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

On Thursday night, members of the community got a chance to see those updates. Dressed in black tie attire, those who patronized Tabor Hill were treated to an updated food and wine menu, featuring more than 30 varieties of wine. They also got the chance to tour the grounds and see the updated décor, flooring and lighting of the restaurant or enjoy several hors d’oeuvre’s on the outdoor patio while taking in 25 acres of rolling vineyard awash in spring sunshine.

“You can come out and feel like you are in Nappa, California, within 10 minutes of your town that is local,” Moersch said.

Moersch said those who visit Tabor Hill will still have access to longtime favorites, like the restaurant’s iconic raspberry chicken, which features tenderized chicken breast rolled in panko and topped with a raspberry vinaigrette. Moersch said they had initially considered taking it off the menu, but customers expressed concern about losing the menu favorite. 

To still give the traditional menu item a revamped feel, Moersch said they found the person who created the recipe and used her feedback to add a few critiques to the popular dish.

Moving forward, Moersch said the menu will incorporate more seasonal local ingredients. Executive Chef Ryan Thornburg said partnering with local farms benefits Tabor Hill as well as area farmers.

“It’s fresher,” Thornburg said. “It supports local farmers and they support us.”

Moersch said the aim is to create plates that complement Tabor Hill’s wine, such as filet pan seared with bleu cheese. Many of the dishes are intended to be shareable and easy to eat while having a conversation on the back patio.

“It’s your classic California or European model to showcase what this area does on a plate and in the wine glass,” Moersch said.

Adding more grapes to further the varieties of wine they can create is also on the agenda. Tabor Hill does not grow all its own grapes, but harvests many of its wine grapes from the vineyard on site. As far as wine goes, Moersch said they added a bubbling demi sec in red and white. 

A bigger fall wedding venue is also in the works, with the goal to have a wedding tent that can seat up to 250 people. Indoor weddings will also be available.

Among those taking in the revamped restaurant and winery was Samer Badreddine, a maître d’ for Bistro on the Boulevard. Badreddine said he liked some of the changes he had observed to the restaurant and winery.

“It’s fantastic,” Badreddine said. “It looks so modern and beautiful.”

For his part, Moersch said continuing to look for ways to refresh the business is just part of his goal for leading the business.

“That is what my family does,” Moersch said. “We are not always changing things, but we are always trying to improve things. You can’t stay stagnant at any restaurant or winery. You need to do new things to attract customers back or keep people interested, like ‘what’s new?’”

Tabor Hill Winery is located at 185 Mt. Tabor Road in Buchanan. The hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information: taborhill.com.

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