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Made in Michiana: Round Barn Winery

BARDOA, Mich.—This week’s Made in Michiana takes us to Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery in Baroda, Michigan.

For nearly two decades, the Lake Michigan shore wine trail has been a destination for wine lovers.

However, long before tourists took to the trail, a select few trailblazers took the reins and ushered in a new era.

Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery was founded in 1992 by two teachers with a love for science. They’re now pioneers in the grape growing region.

Even though architects told Matthew Moersch’s parents that finding, buying and restoring a 1912 round barn couldn’t be done, in 1997, they proved it could be.

“We wanted a unique building so my mother and my father found a round barn and the whole thing was to make only good spirits so there aren’t any corners for the bad spirits to hide in,” Moersch said.

Moersch, now the CEO of the business, says that the barn is where “Napa Valley meets the Hamptons” in the Midwest, but unlike northern California, southwest Michigan’s harsh winters can take a toll on crops.

“The lake effect is the only thing that saves us. If we didn’t have that we would only be able to grow hybrids, things that are very hardy. The lake moderates our temperatures and this year didn’t do enough. We will have a very light crop this year because of winter damage. We are relying a lot more on Mother Nature and it’s more difficult. It’s hard. Farming is hard and challenging on any level,” Moersch said.

What started out as a boutique winery has turned into a one-of-a-kind winery, distillery, and more recently, brewery.

“A lot of men coming to drink wine in 1992 was not something that was super popular so that was ‘hey do you have a beer, hey do you have a beer.' And that turned into yes we do,” Moersch said.

In 2013, Round Barn opened its Brew Pub in Baroda to fit the organically growing demand for beer.

“At this moment, on tap, we have 18 beer products and two sangria products. Seventeen of those products are mainstays,” Malkam Wyman, head brewer, said.

The Public House is one of six different destinations, offering experiences like food and live music.

In 2017, Round Barn purchased Tabor Hill Winery. Recently, they also opened a brand new “filling station” in Coloma.

Round Barn owns over 150 acres of property throughout southwest Michigan and has over 180 employees. Currently, the business produces between 45 and 55 thousand cases of wine, 2,700 barrels of beer, and nearly 2,000 cases of hard spirits per year.

Their newest product is sangria.

“For us diversity has been amazing so as beers or spirits are hot, we are very nimble and passionate about what we are doing. There are so many products. We have over 100 different recipes of different things we are making at any one time," Moersch said. “That’s what people want. Unique experiences. Getting them closer to city centers, in the country, cool buildings. That’s where I see our growth going is to continue that diversity and spread the word of Southwest Michigan while doing it.”

Round Barn is one of only 19 wineries on the southwest Michigan wine trail. Their first national act is coming this summer, with Andrew McMahan and the Wilderness will play August 16.

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