ROSE CITY – Brad Moore, owner of Valley Mist Vineyard in Rose City, readily admits that he’ not a ‘wine’ person.
Moore said he had never made a chardonnay before because it wasn’t his favorite wine, but he had lots of requests for one. ‘It actually came out good,’ he said. ‘I’m not a wine guy, to tell you the truth. I like my beer and a little Scotch sometimes.’
So, how does a self-proclaimed ‘not a wine guy’ get into making wine so much so that he opens a winery?
‘It’ a fun hobby, making wine down in the basement,’ Moore said, ‘as evidenced by my purple carpet down there.’
He said making wine was an easy and inexpensive hobby to get into. When people kept telling him they loved his wine he didn’t quite believe them.
‘I thought they were nice at first, but I kept hearing it over and over,’ he said.
Moore said he had always been an avid gardener and was interested in growing grapes.
‘I went over and talked to Adam [Kolodziejski] at the other winery,’ he said. Kolodziejski owns Rose Valley Winery on the east side of Rose City and operates Hunting Hawk Vineyard in Hale. Kolodziejski told Moore if he planted vines he’d buy every grape he could grow.
‘So we were going to be a vineyard only,’ Moore said.
But when Kolodziejski saw Moore’ pole barn and property, he told him he had the makings for a winery.
‘And that’ how it started,’ Moore said, adding that timing was everything.
Moore had just lost the job he had for more than 30 years at Taylor Door and needed a new career.
‘The way it worked out I wish I would have lost my job earlier,’ he said. ‘I’m having too much fun doing this!’
This is the sixth year for Valley Mist Vineyards. ‘We’ve grown every year,’ Moore said. ‘It’ mainly word of mouth. Somebody comes in here and has a favorable experience and they go back and tell 10 people.’ He said his tasting room has a lot of repeat business, ‘which is always a good gauge on how things are going.’
In November of 2014, Moore opened a second tasting room in downtown Grayling.
‘That’ been going great for us,’ he said. ‘What’ nice about it is things get slow here in the winter and that’ a big winter sports town. It gives us a little cash flow in the winter.’
Moore said that wine-seeking visitors have a different experience here on the sunrise side. He said he has a nice working relationship with two other local wineries (Rose Valley Winery and Modern Craft Winery).
‘We promote a chance to meet the wine makers,’ he said. ‘We promote the personal.’
You get the sense of the personal just by driving up to Valley Mist Vineyards. Located on Townline Road west of Rose City, one drives a short distance to the end of a residential dirt road to find the winery. Moore’ house is right next-door and he is frequently on-site and available to talk wines with visitors. His ‘nickel tour’ includes a rundown of how to make wine.
‘You get the juice, you add the yeast,’ Moore said. ‘The yeast starts eating the sugar, and when that happens it gives off a molecule of Co2 and a molecule of alcohol. That will take about 10 days to two weeks to ferment. When the sugar is all eaten up, the yeast dies and sinks to the bottom. Then we rack it, we pump it into an empty container, we leave that slurry behind and that just goes down the septic. Then it sits for several more weeks and sediment falls out and we rack it again, let it sit again. Each time we rack it, it gets clearer and clearer, and the final step we filter all of our wines.’
While the wine tasting business here is seasonal, Moore keeps things open all year round. ‘I’m out here making wine all year, so if I’m out here I might as well throw out the sign,’ he said. He said Valley Mist is snowmobile-friendly in the winter and motorcycle-friendly in the summer. ‘If you ride in on either of those, you’ll get an extra discount.’
Valley Mist Vineyards boasts a large array of distinctive wines with fun names such as the Swill of the Lonely Red-Necked Sailor, a white zinfandel sweetened with strawberries; three desert wines named Gabriel (a raspberry chocolate port), Gabriel’ Drool, and Snowflake; Lightning Bug, a lemon wine; Razz, a raspberry pinot noir; Cabstand, an American cabernet sauvignon; Tuxedo, a dry red; Laid Back, an American merlot; Red Dress, a dry red cabernet franc.
Moore jokes that he comes up with the names by ‘sitting around and having a few beers’ until he finds something that works. Besides the new Oyster Road Chardonnay, this year he is introducing a muscato named Suncatcher and Teacher’ Aid, a meritage blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.
‘That name was suggested by a retired teacher,’ Moore said. ‘What a great name, because every teacher that comes in buys it!’
He said his mother was a teacher, so that makes it even more special.
Valley Mist Vineyards, located on 2742 Townline Road in Rose City, is open Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. 12-5 p.m. (closed on Wed. during the off-season). The Valley Mist Grayling Tasting Room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and later on the weekends. Moore said he doesn’t charge for tastings at either location. Call 989-685-9096 for more information.