Leonard Olson, the Founder of Baroda Founders Wine Cellar
"The Baroda Founders Family feels we are fortunate to make a product that our customers enjoy at their most precious moments. To that end, we strive to produce wines that reflect the best of the grapes harvested in each God-given growing season.
The pleasure of wine and your satisfaction at our winery or in your home gives meaning to our life. Drink in Health." - Len Olson
Leonard Olson, our Founder, had a long history in the wine industry. He was familiar with Southwest Michigan's growing region and growers, and knew the quality product produced here first hand. His experience here dated back to the late 1960's when Olson and a partner planted the first commercial European vines in Michigan. They went on to plant 27 grape varieties, which included Aurora, Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, DeChaunac, Chamborcin, Cascade, Chardonnay, Seyval, Vignoles and Johannesburg Riesling. Len obtained the first new Michigan winery license since prohibition and opened Tabor Hill in 1972. As winemaker at Tabor Hill, the winery won several awards and medals and was served in the White House under Gerald Ford's presidency. Len left Tabor Hill in 1982 and pursued other opportunities in the beverage industry, including beer-making in northern Indiana and wine-making in Kentucky, where he was recognized as one of the founding members of the Kentucky Grape and Wine Council.
A self-educated winemaker, Len consulted with experienced winemakers throughout the world, including the late Karl Werner and Helmut Becker, two of Germany's most renowned winemakers. Werner, whose family has been producing wines since 1411, was a graduate of the renowned Geisenheim Oenological and Viticultural Institute. And, Becker was the chief of the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute.
Len returned to Southwest Michigan and was honored to be among this continually growing wine community. He focused on making wine accessible to all palates and levels of knowledge by producing a variety of wines ranging from classic varietals grown from the Lake Michigan Shore AVA region (in other words, Southwest Michigan) to chocolate and fruit-flavor-enhanced
Len passed away in 2014, but his legacy, love and passion for the Southwest Michigan wine industry lives on in his son, Gunnar, who is now the winemaker at Baroda Founders.