A chance to show off
Lake Michigan Vintners uncorks student-made wines
By RALPH HEIBUTZKI
BARODA — With word out about Lake Michigan College’s boutique winery and tasting room, it’s time for everyone else to experience its offerings for themselves.
That’s what Lake Michigan Vintners brand manager Laura Morris said about this weekend’s grand opening in downtown Baroda, where the public can taste the wines students have been producing since 2015.
“Students are really proud to be able to sell the wine and get feedback on what they’ve produced,” Morris said. “This is a really good opportunity to see what goes over well, what people like, and what needs work.”
The three-day event, which runs today through Sunday, will give people a good look at an industry that has a major role in the area’s economic growth, Morris said.
“We’re really trying to just showcase the potential, that this is a world-class wine region, and to show off all the different styles of wine that can be made here in Southwest Michigan,” she said.
Food trucks, live music and special deals are the basic features for the event,
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Lake Michigan Vintners Tasting Room in downtown Baroda is debuting student wines, starting today.
Don Campbell / HP file photo
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which kicks off at 11 a.m. today at Lake Michigan Vintners, 8972 First St., Baroda.
“Throughout the weekend, we’ll be offering half off tastings, $5 select glass pours, and $10 bottles of rose,” Morris said.
Acoustic musician Joe Jason will perform ‘70s favorites from America, Bread, Chicago and The Eagles, among others, from 4 to 7 p.m. today, and Berklee-trained singer- songwriter Chris Behre will play 2-5 p.m. Sunday.
Jim’s Smokin’ Cafe’ will serve barbecue and street tacos from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Saturday, while Lulu’s Licks Food Trick will offer fresh fruit bubble freezes, empanadas and tacos from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
When asked how she chose the featured musicians, Morris responded: “I’ve worked with them before, at the previous winery where I was – Dablon Vineyards. They’re both local, they do acoustic ‘70s covers, and take requests. They’re quite good.”
Lake Michigan Vintners will introduce nine small-batch, limitedproduction varietals and blends made from locally sourced fruit.
“We purchase all our fruit from local growers, here in Southwest Michigan, and then we produce the wine, of course, at the college,” Morris said. “We’ll also have small antipasto plates, that are available, as well.”
Depending on demand, the festivities may become an annual tradition, or spin off into smaller, individual events.
“There’s definitely an opportunity for that. There might be a launch party for every vintage, each spring and fall,” Morris said. “I can definitely see an opportunity for that.”
Lake Michigan Vintners opened with a ribbon cutting last month as an extension of the college’s wine and viticulture program, which it started in 2015.
The event launched Lake Michigan Vintners as the first teaching winery in the Midewst. It is designed to give students hands-on experience in the industry, including lab analysis, vineyard management and winemaking.
“It’s going really well (since the grand opening). People really love the concept of being able to support the program through the tasting room, and we’re helping to get word out about the program, which is excellent,” Morris said.
The program is directed by Mike Moyer, whom LMC recruited from Washington state to run it. He holds a master’s degree in enology from the University of California – Davis, and is well-known locally as “an evangelist for Michigan wine,” according to the event’s press release.
Morris hopes patrons feel likewise after this weekend.
“What I’d personally like to see is our wines being taken more seriously across the country, and the world stage – as opposed to just locally and the Midwest,” Morris said. “Just being showcased as a world-class wine region ... I’m hoping that, 10 years from now, that will be the case.”
For more information about Lake Michigan Vintners, visit it online at http://www.lakemichiganvintners. com. For more information about LMC’s program, visit www. lakemichigancollege.edu/ wine.