This summer, sister wineries Round Barn and Tabor Hill introduced nearly four miles of new hiking trails to connect the two properties and give consumers another avenue of social distant entertainment. It was also a childhood memory that sparked the decision to go forward with the creation.
Matt Moersch, the CEO of the Moersch Hospitality Group, explained to Vintner that his father, Rick, created some of the trails for Matt and his family so that they could cross country ski and snowshoe during the winter in the area.
When the group acquired Tabor Hill in 2017, Moersch wanted to recreate the trails and it was a goal of the company to create trails at some point.
When COVID-19 hit Michigan in March, it was a perfect time and opportunity to get the project started.
The just-opened Mt. Tabor Trail system offers three levels of difficulty through terrain that includes vineyards, fields, and woods. The trails can be accessed from either the Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery in Baroda or the Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant in Buchanan, with optional stops at one or both wineries to enjoy the full experience.
Wine, beer, spirits, and food selections from both establishments are available at either trailhead, making it possible to take a scenic stroll while simultaneously enjoying some of the Southwest Michigan facilities’ signature refreshments.
Moersch said they worked closely with a local forester to help clear the various trails and determine which trees should keep for environmental reasons and it only cost the company a few thousand dollars and took a week to clear and build.
”While working with the forester, we were cautious of what trees to take and what trees not to take, and how to protect the land without hurting it,” Moersch said.
The trails help add a new layer to consumer interaction and can help boost staying power along with additional sales from either retail location for the wineries.
“We are constantly creating new experiences for our guests, … [this] gave us a unique opportunity to add a nature walk to our wining and dining offerings,” Moersch said in a release. “At the same time, our new trail system will allow us to accommodate more people while meeting social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Admittance to the trails cost $5 for a day pass or $15 for a season pass, giving both locals and winery visitors an opportunity to use the area.
As for future expenses, the trails will have minimal maintenance. Future expansion for the trails is to be determined.
“For now, we are happy with the 3.6 miles of trails,” Moersch said. ”We plan to have winter activities, and additional summer activities next summer.”
Photo Courtesy Round Barn & Tabor Hill