Southwest Michigan wineries struggling during coronavirus pandemic

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 9:17 PM EDT
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Southwest Michigan is home to dozens of wineries, but restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic is causing some to struggle.

16 News Now headed to Round Barn Winery to learn what's hurting these businesses the most.

Round Barn isn't used to things being this quiet on their property, especially this far into May.

This will be the case for the winery until restaurants are allowed to reopen in Michigan.

"We haven't been able to have any of our live music every weekend starting the first weekend of May which is our sangria party on Cinco de Mayo. We missed that on a perfect weather weekend. Normally there would be two-to-three thousand people out here drinking by the glass and buying food and whatnot," said Moersch Hospitality Group C.E.O Matt Moersch.

Moersch says their sales margins are best when they're hosting customers.

The longer it takes for restaurants to reopen, the heavier their financial burden becomes.

When asked about how long he thinks Round Barn Winery can last with the restrictions, Moersch said, "In it's current model with not many customers, not very long. That's the reality. As Whitmer opens it back up to half-capacity, it's sustainable. It's not profitably very well, but it's sustainable."

Moersch says he'll be able to get by because of other ventures his hospitality group manages, but he says others won't be so fortunate.

"I think of course it's going to impact restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms. People that don't have as much land as we do. I think being able to spread people out is an advantage. It's no surprise there's going to be people closing--there's going to be a lot of job loss," he said.

A bleak forecast for one of Southwest Michigan's most unique industries.

The stay-at-home order ends on May 28th while Michigan bars and restaurants urge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow partial reopening on the 29th.