While working as a high school biology teacher in 1979, Rick Moersch was invited to run the lab analyses at Tabor Hill Winery. Ready to move on from the teaching profession, he began a full-time position with the winery and was promoted to winemaker after only two years. Here, Rick's passion for farming and wine blossomed, and the seeds for a larger dream of his own winery were planted. He remained Tabor's winemaker until 1991 however, during his stay, Rick purchased land in 1981 and planted grapes the same year. In these first few years with his new land, he was a wholesaler for a German grapevine nursery, planting and grafting nearly a million vines throughout the early 80's, all while functioning as Tabor's winemaker.
After leaving Tabor Hill in 1991, he decided to hold on to his grapes, begin to bottle wine and ultimately open his own winery. His vision was finally actualized in August of 1992 with the opening of Heart of the Vineyard Winery and he has never looked back since.
Over the next several years, Rick focused on producing world-class, award-winning wines while building a concrete reputation among his visitors. Then, in 1997, the Moersch family made a daring move to transport and rebuild a turn-of-the century Amish Round Barn from rural Indiana, realizing their wish to house a first-class European-style brandy distillery at the estate. It struck Rick that this historic building was the perfect home for the round copper pot still--he felt that good "spirits" should be created in a structure where legend says that 'with no corners, evil spirits cannot hide.' And so, history was preserved while also being made; a rare shelter housing a rare European-style brandy distillery. This bold reconstruction proved not only highly successful by the popular handcrafted brandies that emerged by 2001, but the beautiful and unique barn quickly became the vineyard's iconic landmark. Reflecting growth of the winery and the popularity of their new building, the Moerschs changed the name in 2004 from "Heart of the Vineyard" to "the Round Barn Winery." This beautiful piece of Americana is now the namesake of the Round Barn Winery, Distillery & Brewery.
Rick encouraged his two sons to attend college and follow their own vocational paths. However, both boys found themselves returning to the family business and these brothers continue to work side-by-side today as partners.
Continuing to refine their craft and grow the business, the Moerschs launched a luxury vodka, DiVine, in 2006. Produced from hand-picked wine grapes, DiVine is distilled in the round barn's German 20-foot copper pot still. To date, it is the only estate vodka produced in the United States.
As if they didn't have enough to drink between wine, brandy and vodka, the Moerschs 'quenched their thirst' for knowledge when they decided to begin brewing beer! In 2007, they learned the art of micro-beer production with a release of a new line of full-bodied beers. Production started with kegs, then the brewery added 750ml bottles in 2008 and has most recently moved to 12 ounce bottles in 2009.
In an effort to house both a beer tasting and a wine tasting area, the Moerschs separated the tasting rooms in 2009. Guests are offered a true brewery experience in their Centennial post and beam barn while the wine tasting is now enjoyed in the round barn.
Expanding the business further, the family opened a satellite retail shop and tasting room in Union Pier, Michigan in 2005. In keeping with their namesake, the architecture of the newly constructed building is modeled after the design lines of the vineyard's round barn. Then in 2008, they found the perfect space to open a third outpost in Saugatuck, Michigan in order to continue to increase awareness of award winning Michigan products. The Saugatuck location has since closed.
Launched in July 2006, Christian & Matthew Moersch opened Free Run Cellars, a boutique winery specializing in single vineyard wines. The wine is available for distribution and available at the new winery in Berrien Springs and at both satellite-tasting rooms.