Bonobo Winery

Bonobo Winery

“The mini-split did everything the Oosterhouses needed without running a lot of ductwork. It was a better fit than anything else.”

Project Location: Traverse City, Michigan
Completion Date: December 2014

Selecting an efficient, reliable HVAC system for spaces that could not accommodate ductwork

Zoned Comfort Solutions® from Mitsubishi Electric

Comfortable spaces, energy-efficient operation and a high level of control

Carter Oosterhouse might best be known for his work as a television host and producer for shows like TLC’s “Trading Spaces” and HGTV’s “Carter Can.” Now, though, he can also be known for his wine. Brothers Carter and Todd Oosterhouse conceived, opened and now run the Bonobo Winery in Traverse City, Michigan. The facility features a gorgeous winery and tasting room. Behind the scenes is a production facility, a 3,000-square-foot barrel room and offices. While the behind-the-scenes spaces may not be intended as part of the experience for guests, it was still important to the Oosterhouse brothers to have modern, usable spaces. Zoned Comfort Solutions® from Mitsubishi Electric made that possible, conditioning the barrel room, offices and hallways.

When thinking about the winery, the Oosterhouse brothers focused heavily on efficiency. Todd, the winery’s owner and general manager, said, “We wanted to be as energy-conscious as possible through the whole project. Carter and I grew up with all-natural vitamins if that gives you a sense. And Carter and his wife, Amy Smart, are very environmentally conscious. They were part of getting California to be plastic bag–free. We also try to be as organic as possible—we don’t use herbicides or pesticides—and we recycle whatever we can. So mini-splits just made sense.”

He continued, “We did look at different HVAC technologies that would be energy-efficient, but with mini-splits the energy usage was just much lower compared to forced-air. And we didn’t have to run special ductwork, which is good because there was no way to do these spaces with traditional ductwork. The wall-mounted units mean just small refrigerant pipes, so we also liked the ease of installation and use. And the barrel room is sensitive to humidity, so we liked that the mini-splits would help support the dehumidifier.”

Pat Harrison, estimator, Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing, Traverse City, ran all the numbers and put the HVAC bid together. He said, “The mini-split did everything the Oosterhouses needed without running a lot of ductwork. It was a better fit than anything else.”

He continued, “The original spec was for Carrier mini-splits, but I just didn’t want the headache of callbacks. So after several meetings with the architect and Todd, we suggested they go with Mitsubishi Electric mini-splits. It’s a better product all around – things like efficiency and maintaining temperature throughout the year. The Mitsubishi Electric product is our No. 1 product for split systems. The reason is performance—fewer callbacks. They’re quiet, too; people love the lack of noise.”

Todd agreed with the recommendation: “The Mitsubishi Electric system was right in line with our energy-conscious goals. So we went for it. And, happy to say, the installation was pretty seamless. We had professionals do it, of course, but it was really easy for them to install.”

The daily use has been successful, as well. Todd said, “The Mitsubishi Electric system has done very well for us. Forced-air loses a lot of air in the ductwork, but with this system, air is generated right there and the temperature is maintained without losing air because you’re trying to force it to different parts of the space. The result has been relatively low bills.”

The Oosterhouse brothers have also appreciated the discreet look of the indoor units. “Since the system is ductless, the indoor units don’t detract from the building’s look. You don’t see ductwork hanging down everywhere,” said Todd.

He also spoke to the comfort afforded by the new system: “Our winemaker likes to keep everything cold, so it’s been helpful that the units maintain the desired temperature for us. You can raise the temperature in individual offices, though, if someone wants it warmer. Not everyone likes it so cold!”

Harrison said, “The project turned out wonderful. In fact, we’re going to enter it for an award next spring. With the Mitsubishi Electric system, I think we have a good chance of winning!”

Project Team

  • HVAC Contractor: Team Bob's Heating Cooling Plumbing, Traverse City, Michigan
  • Distributor: Young Supply Co., Chesterfield, Michigan

Equipment Installed

  • (2) MXZ M-Series Outdoor Units
  • (6) MSZ Wall-mounted Indoor Units