New Lake Michigan Vintners Wine Tasting Room Opens in Baroda

If you're going to teach future winemakers all of the subtleties of the business, you should probably teach them everything from planting the grapes to pouring the wine for the customer. The Midwest's first and only teaching winery at Lake Michigan College can now deliver on every aspect of the business thanks to the christening of their new tasting room in the heart of wine country -- downtown Baroda.

The Lake Michigan Vintners Tasting Room Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held this evening at their new facility at 8972 First Street in downtown Baroda, in a colorful new center that is designed to not only showcase the wines that have been hand-crafted by students of the program, but also to act as a learning center for the rest of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail and its 21 individual wineries peppered across Michigan's Great Southwest.

Those who attended the event enjoyed tastes of a variety of the small batch, hand-crafted wines produced the students of Lake Michigan College's Wine & Viticulture Technology program under the watchful eye and tutelage of experience winemaker and program director, Michael Moyer.

Moyer told the crowd gathered in Baroda, "This area has the potential to be a truly world-class wine growing region, and we're eager to show our students and future winemakers the true nature of what we have."

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Moyer, you may recall, was recruited by the college from Washington State two years ago. Since earning his Master's Degree in Enology from the University of California-Davis, he's worked as a winemaker for some of the nation's most esteemed wineries and oversaw a similar academic program in Walla Walla, Washington.

Moyer will tell anyone willing to listen that Southwest Michigan is quickly gaining recognition as a world class wine region because of its optimal climate and soil, and developing the next generation of expert winemakers is vital to the industry's continued success. With the support of leading wineries throughout the state, many of which dispatched winemakers to the college's advisory council, LMC launched the program to help educate the next generation of winemakers.

The Lake Michigan Vintners teaching winery and tasting room are where students can apply their knowledge of enology (winemaking) and viticulture (grape-growing) to hands-on sensory analysis, vineyard management and all aspects of business operations.

In addition to program director and winemaker Moyer, Lake Michigan Vintners employees are Brand Manager Laura Morris and Vineyard and Winery Manager Michael de Schaaf.

One student said, "We're so proud of this wine, and this is a great new way to showcase the finished product." The students and other tasting room employees offered those in attendance the opportunity to be the first to sample the winery's nine current offerings of small batch, limited production, varietals and blends. From the dry "Wavelength Red" with hints of cinnamon and leather, to the semi "Sweet Riesling" with aromas of green tea and candied orange, there was something to suit virtually every palate in the house.

Besides Moyer's welcome and brief overview of the program other speakers included Lake Michigan College President Trevor Kubatzke, State Budget Director Al Pscholka (who played a key role in parlaying a $1-million grant for the teaching winery while he was a State Rep from the district), State Representatives Dave Pagel and Mary Whiteford, Berrien County Commissioner Teri Freehling, Baroda Village President Bob Getz and Village Clerk Tina Boehm who acted as emcee for the event.

Full disclosure, I serve as President of the licensee for the tasting room and winery, Lake Michigan Vintners, and also addressed the crowd regarding the importance of the students learning every aspect of the trade to keep the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail growing into the future. My fellow board members are Treasurer Chuck Philip and Secretary Lisa Welch.

The new tasting room in downtown Baroda quietly opened on Wednesday in space they are renting from William and Greta Hurst that used to house a deli. The tasting room is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon until 5pm...Friday and Saturday from noon until 6pm...and Sundays from noon until 5pm. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday.

You can reach the tasting room by phone at 269-326-7195. Due to capacity, they ask that groups of 8 or more schedule a visit in advance by reservation. Learn more about everything associated with Lake Michigan Vintners by clicking this link at any time: http://www.lakemichiganvintners.com/