History of Tabor Hill Winery

Wood Wine Barrels Carved at Tabor Hill WineryThe Foundation

In 1968, business partners Len Olson and Carl Banholzer bought 45 acres of farmland in Buchanan, MI that would later become the main winery of Tabor Hill.

That year, the two planted the very first grapes, armed only with the knowledge found in Phillip M. Wagner’s American Wine and Winemaking. The next year, the winery expanded from two to 27 varieties of grapes that would flourish in the temperate weather of southwest Michigan.

The first wines were produced in the fall of 1970 using a combination of Tabor Hill’s estate-grown grapes and those from another local vineyard. Initially, the grapes were crushed using the traditional foot-stomping method and created over 200 gallons of juice to make the wine. That year, Tabor Hill was the first winery in the state to obtain a license since shortly after Prohibition was lifted.

wine_productionWinery Milestones

1970 continued to be a year filled with milestones for Tabor Hill: that year also saw the construction of the winery and tasting room, and the original building still stands today. The winery’s first bottle of wine, Vidal Blanc, was sold in 1972, the same summer the tasting room officially opened.

Soon after, Tabor Hill began winning awards for their wines. At the 1977 American Wine Competition in Washington, D.C., Tabor Hill won six awards, including two silver medals for its Riesling and a bronze medal for its Baco Noir. This was just the beginning of a long-standing tradition of producing regionally and nationally acclaimed wines.

In 1978, David Upton, son of the founder of Whirlpool and Michigan State Representative, acquired Tabor Hill and became the sole proprietor. While many other wineries in the area closed due to financial pressures, the strategic partnership with Upton secured the future of Tabor Hill.

tasting_room_storeTabor Hill Today

Current Winemaker Michael Merchant joined the Tabor Hill team in 1979. Moving up the ranks from vineyard manager to Chief Winemaker, Merchant’s initial education at Michigan State University and continued dedication to quality wines has continued the Tabor Hill legacy of producing excellent wines.

The second dining room, a new kitchen and a full bar were added to the original tasting room in 2002. The addition takes advantage of the beautiful Michigan summers and the busy season that accompanies it, and still provides an intimate setting for diners year-round.

Tabor Hill continues to meet the high expectations and standards of their guests. With a commitment to exceptional quality, the winery provides a distinctive experience for individuals and groups, marked by the rich history of the winery and award-winning wines.