Vineyards preparing for weather's impact on wine production

NOW: Vineyards preparing for weather’s impact on wine production

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BUCHANAN, Mich. -- As the weather gets warmer, that means a lot more traffic through Southwest Michigan vineyards.

The problem though, is when things get warm too early, only for temperatures to drop drastically – exactly what we’re seeing this week.

“We were concerned in March about the warm up we had, we were nervous about grapes not being trimmed, a spring freeze, so we are pretty lucky that the style of grapes we have have not broken bud yet,” said Matt Moersch, CEO of Moersch Hospitality Group.

Moersch Hospitality Group owns two wine staples in Southwest Michigan, Round Barn in Baroda – which was founded by Moersch’s parents 40 years ago – and Tabor Hill in Buchanan, which the family acquired four years ago.

Tending to hundreds of acres of vineyards is hard work, especially when they’re at the mercy of mother nature.

“An early warming period puts us in this position where we’re worried people are going to use frost fans and any technique they can, but there’s not much you can do, really heavy irrigation works actually because if you freeze the grapes, they produce heat – we don’t normally have to irrigate, we have enough water here,” said Moersch.

Checking in on the grapes after Monday night’s freeze, Moersch said thankfully they came out OK, since the warm weather didn’t stick around too long a few weeks ago, meaning the buds didn’t break early.

Now, it’s just hoping this freeze doesn’t last much longer, plus, using the few mitigation efforts they can count on.

“We try to do cultural things,” said Moersch. “More canes, more buds, trimming later, but for some of the fruit trees that’s just what it is, bloom happens when it happens.”

Tabor Hill is also celebrating its 50-year anniversary this weekend with a throwback dinner showcasing their most popular dishes and a limited-edition Meritage. Reservations are encouraged.

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