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MountainRose Vineyard

“Entrepreneurs must learn their strengths and weaknesses, they must think things through”- Suzanne Lawson

MountainRose Vineyard Inc., the first vineyard in Wise County Virginia, is a family owned and operated business. Deeper than the satisfying tastes of its wine lies the secrets of MountainRose Vineyard’s soil. Suzanne and David Lawson, mother and son, began their legacy in 1996 on a reclaimed surface mine. Just under a decade later, in 2004 Suzanne and David Lawson made the shift from an established vineyard to a winery. 

While still attending high school, David Lawson, had early dreams of one day establishing his own business. David developed the winery idea after attending his internship at Chateau Morrisette in Floyd County. Even before the winery, David used to make molasses and had fresh produce to offer at the Farmer’s Market in Wise, Virginia. 

As entrepreneurs in the wine industry, David and Suzanne identified “time” as their biggest sacrifice throughout their journey to success. “With owning your own business,, nobody tells you to go home and nobody tells you what to do,” says Suzanne. “You feel the need to be at the business regularly”. When having to make sacrifices with money, Suzanne suggests that one should never bite off more than they can chew.

Throughout the early days of the MountainRose Vineyard, David and Suzanne took on many challenges and learned many lessons about owning and operating a business. “There is no blame game. A strong key to success is learning from mistakes so you don’t make the same ones,” says David. 

David explains that in life there are two types of entrepreneurs, those who are driven by a passion and those who see opportunities. “Those who are driven by a passion for what they are doing, take time to be successful. They will try over and over until they get it. Those who see opportunity take many risks but seize the opportunity, however, have many more mistakes on the road to success,” says David. 

Though the thought process of owning and operating a winery must be creative, David and Suzanne emphasized that a school education is not a requirement to be a successful entrepreneur. Even though, both and David and Suzanne attended college, they believe that education is more than learning what is in a textbook. 

“Education is not necessarily all about diplomas, those are pieces of paper,” says David.

David and Suzanne gained knowledge of how to be successful in the wine industry from miscellaneous sources. By attending conferences, reading, web searching, social networking, and even researching on Youtube, David and Suzanne were able to find resources that were beneficial to making MountainRose Vineyard Inc. a successful business. 

Before proceeding with new ideas for the business Suzanne and David constantly think things through to assure the success of their business is achieved with as few mistakes as possible.

“You need to learn your strengths and weaknesses, knowing and understanding yourself is important,” says Suzanne. As successful business owners, Suzanne and David know their areas of weakness and choose to hire people who bring strengths to the team that they don’t have.

To assure the continuing success of their business, Suzanne and David spend lots of time focusing on the five areas of a business plan. David and Suzanne wrote a business plan model and now use it to establish and maintain goals and objectives. Suzanne emphasizes that it is important that entrepreneurs know their market. “Study your market regularly, nothing just happens,” says Suzanne.

Suzanne and David believe that location is important to the success of the entrepreneurial venture. Naturally, the importance of location depends on the type of business. David believes that a retail and business location on the internet is vital. The location of MountainRose Vineyard Inc. used to be a problem for Lawson, but by thinking innovatively, the challenges presented by their location is now a thing of the past.

To attain a successful customer base David and Suzanne use ‘the customer is always right’ formula. Suzanne, the partner in charge of marketing, focused on the commentary and ideas of what made the customers return. She believes that everyone has a story to tell and that story must be told. Her main advertisements are focused through social media, radio marketing, and partnerships.

MountainRose Vineyards Inc. is a vineyard and winery that produces wines that best fit the climate of SWVA, but most importantly according to the preference of most customers. Most wines are based upon trial and error but the best-selling are Chancellor and Traminette wines for the vineyard. “We were not only starting a business but a new industry in our area,” says Suzanne. 

David and Suzanne offered many suggestions that will contribute to the success of striving entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurs need to have a passion about what they do,” says David. “It is a matter of passion and effort.” David and Suzanne suggests that entrepreneurs have their products viewed by professionals and shouldn’t take negative criticism too hard.” “Every negative comment should spark new ideas,” says Suzanne.