For 31 years, the Cloers of Apex, North Carolina, were synonymous with landscaping – thanks to their family-owned business, Cloer Nursery. In June of 2010, Tam, the second-generation owner of the nursery, expanded the family’s heritage by opening Cloer Family Vineyards.
Tam, who graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in horticulture, developed an interest in winemaking as a young man when he befriended an elderly neighbor with a penchant for home winemaking. For years, Tam visited his neighbor’s basement winery and worked by his side learning the basics. After his neighbor passed away and bequeathed all of his winemaking equipment to Tam, he officially adopted the art as a hobby.
In 1995, drawing on his personal winemaking experience and his agricultural knowledge, Tam started experimenting with grapes on his family’s 18-acre farm. He initially planted roughly 3,000 vines across five acres. The vines consisted of vinifera (blended varieties) and French Hybrid grapes. Despite the fact that these grapes were recommended for this area of the country at the time, it soon became apparent that they are not well suited for the warm, humid climate of our region. The Cloers fought mold and mildew almost constantly and their vineyards were plagued with pests and diseases.
The Cloers mapped out a plan to build a winery where they could share their wines with family and friends – both old and new – in a relaxed and comfortable environment. They wanted to create a place that “fit” with their farm and southern roots, so they decided to house the Cloer Family Vineyards winery in a traditional red barn with green tin roof.
Today, the entire Cloer family is involved in the process; Tam manages the vineyard, while Pam and their two young daughters, Taylor and Ashley, assist with other duties like harvesting, bottling, labeling, marketing, sales and more.