SW Michigan wineries adapt to pandemic challenges

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 22:45:34-05

BARODA, Mich. — Like bars and restaurants, Michigan wineries have faced extended closures and restrictions in light of the pandemic.

Matt Moersch, the owner of Round Barn Winery, Tabor Hill Restaurant & Winery and Free Run Cellars, says it's been challenging.

"We were shut down, what, two months plus, and then this latest shut down...we're still down right now," Moersch told FOX 17 News. "You know, being down 20, 30% isn't ideal, but you know we're paying the bills, and you know just having to streamline things."

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Moersch and his team have gotten creative to find ways to allow customers to still enjoy their properties and wine products.

Igloos and fire pits have been set up at the Round Barn location in Baroda and the tasting room in Union Pier.

Moersch said they've also added an outdoor hiking experience, called Mt. Tabor Trails.

"That actually connects Round Barn to Tabor Hill through the woods, where you can get a glass of wine, beer, spirits and walk our wooded trails and paths," he explained. "It's a total of three and a half miles of walking trails, but the shortest route is about three quarters of a mile. So that's really been a nice, unique thing that we're offering."

Another new option was added in October, called the Vineyard Premier Membership.

"It's kind of like Amazon Prime meets the wine world," said Moersch. "So with a $100 annual subscription, you can get grocery store pricing and free delivery to your home."

Moersch is looking forward to reopening his tasting rooms as soon as possible.

Barring an extension of the indoor dining ban by Governor Whitmer, that's expected to happen Feb. 1.

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"[The Governor] along with the health department will kind of give us some guidelines, but you know we've been really social distancing and spacing and making sure that we're following the rules so that people are safe," said Moersch. "We really are looking forward to next summer and the live music and having maybe somewhat of a normal summer."

Moersch said Free Run Cellars is typically closed in January.

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