A Conversation With Nicole Birmingham-Moersch of Round Barn Winery

Food, Living, Tastemakers
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It’s every woman’s dream to work at a winery, right? (Especially, one as beautiful as Round Barn Winery).

Well, maybe that’s just me.

Nicole “Cole” Birmingham-Moersch, however, is living out that very dream in Baroda, MI.  As the Marketing Director for Round Barn Winery, Distillery & Brewery, Round Barn Public House and Free Run Cellars, this Michigan-native mother of two is always on the go and throughout it, manages to never stop smiling.

We chatted with Nicole to learn more about Round Barn, what it’s like to work in a family business and of course, how she makes time to fit in that evening glass of wine.

Now, has anyone seen my corkscrew?

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What was your first job out of college?

When I declared I was going to be a Communications major there was some speculation about what kind of job that would actually lead to. I wasn’t sure myself but I knew I could sell myself and I’d find something I was passionate about. Upon graduation, I proudly landed a job as an Admissions Counselor for a community college briefly before doing the same thing for my Alma Mater, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. I loved it…the energy and diversity! There’s nothing comparable to working with students and being on a college campus post-graduation. During my multiple positions at WMU I encountered great mentors and colleagues whom I learned from and became lucky enough to also call my friends. Go Broncos!

What led you to Round Barn Winery?

I fell in love. I was already in love with wine and then I fell for my now husband.

Perhaps I need to back up a bit.

I was working and living in Kalamazoo and when spending time back home at the lake, we’d go wine tasting. It was during one of those excursions when a little flirting with the boy behind the bar changed my life. For a while we lived in Kalamazoo and he commuted an hour to Round Barn, his family’s owned and operated business. It wasn’t too long before we decided moving back home would be in our future. I worked at Michigan Works! in Benton Harbor for a few years and then there were some sudden needs at Round Barn and they asked me to join the team, an opportunity I clearly couldn’t pass up.

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How do you start each day? Describe your morning?

Let me start by saying that mornings and I mesh about as well as oil and water. Being that I dislike coffee doesn’t help the ongoing situation. My husband usually wakes me, a few times, to pick out [our six-year-old] Harper’s outfit, do her hair like one of the princesses, and watch her scramble to shove as many toys as possible into her backpack before she heads off to school. Then it’s on to chit-chat with [our four-year-old] Breckin before a long debate about whether he’ll wear short-pants or long-pants, definitely ones without “real” buttons or back pockets, and we must not forget to make his hair neat.

Once Dad and Breckin get going, I have the house to myself, kind of. Dudley (14-year-old Westie) and Sasha (eight-year-old Carin) lounge on the back of the couch while I quickly check email and social media before getting ready. When I make my way to the kitchen and start filling my water bottle they know it’s time for work. I lift them into the back of the SUV and we’re off for the day….

What does your typical work day look like?

There is never a dull moment being in a family business that produces wine, beer and spirits with two labels (Round Barn and Free Run) and operates four locations including a restaurant (Public House).

Each day brings the certainty of change as we’ve built a reputation for not letting the grass grow under our feet. Flip-flopping from task to task is common and varies based on the time year for our seasonal business. The winter has us in full gear planning and preparing for our peak season. The rest of the year is go-go-go moving quickly from one project or event to the next.

A typical day might start out with checking email, voicemail and social media before hoping between meetings and fielding questions from our team. Lately I’ve found myself working closely with our publicist and media to promote our fun happenings, helping make final decisions on our Free Run re-model project, crafting new processes to share with our team and customers, approving print materials, selecting and ordering apparel, planning newsletters, running sales reports, preparing meeting agendas, planning events, working on launching the Round Barn Inner Circle Wine Club, and so much more.

This is a fun and interesting industry in a beautiful area, plus I get to work with really cool and creative people living close to family. My job rocks!

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What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

I’m torn on this one so I’m going to cheat and share two thoughts. First, when I was a very young girl my dad started telling me, “You can be anything you want to be.” It sounds simple but he reminded me of this often and hung a Smurfette poster with these words in my room so I was sure not to forget. He didn’t want anything to get in the way of my success and career, especially being a girl. Hearing this from the first man I loved was/is an impactful gift.

Then, it must have been when I was in early high school that my mom told me, “Girlfriends are important; build these relationships and make time for them. They will sustain you throughout life.” She couldn’t have been more right! Today I’m grateful to have solid relationships with real and honest women who I am inspired by, learn from and find support in. Cheers to confidence and camaraderie.

It’s 5:00pm on Friday. What’s in your glass?

Without fail, a glass of Round Barn Sauvignon Blanc! On a side note, in our business it’s not frowned upon to wait until Friday at 5:00 p.m. Ahh…the perks of the job.

What’s your favorite meal to eat for lunch?

Tacos. Weird, I know, but I just never tire of them especially when they’re served with fresh guacamole. Oh and the salty chips and homemade salsa too! The best places are the ones only locals know about, the ones that aren’t fancy but everything is made from scratch and the people are genuine.

What is your favorite room of your home and why?

The kitchen. Not for the obvious reasons. I don’t cook, nope, not at all! Appetizer types of food are always on hand so a little nosh can be set out at a moment’s notice. I can however mix up a stiff cocktail and pour a mean glass of wine. You’d be hard pressed to find an empty glass when I’m hosting.

You know how it goes…everyone always ends up in the kitchen. It’s the place people gather where memories are made, relationships grow and laughter follows.

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If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere right now, where would you go and why?

Take me to a beach, one with white sand and turquoise water and shells to be found. I’ll stroll the shore, sip on cocktails, and indulge in decadent food before falling asleep to the sound of the waves. Why? The beach is the one place I get totally lost in and don’t think about anything other than the moment I’m in. There’s no schedule to keep, agenda to follow, or questions to be answered other than what I’d like to eat and drink. Excuse me I’m off to book a flight…

What does your typical Friday night look like?

Some sort of gathering of friends and family. Growing up my parents’ pretty regularly hosted Friday night pizza parties with friends and family so it appears we’re carrying on the happy tradition that helps keep our life in balance. Besides now we can call it work when eating yummy food and drinks from one of our places. I think they call it quality control?!

What is the one thing on your bucket list you most look forward to?

Living on water, an inland lake with a little beach, whatever. I don’t want anything extravagant, just a comfortable place to welcome good people and enjoy a lake life.

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