8 Questions With..

Eric Harris, owner & head winemaker at Two-EEs
Jun 5, 2019
Alicia Tharp
Jeffrey Crane
8 Questions With..

Eric Harris, along with his wife Emily, started Two-EE’s Winery in 2013. Since then, the well-known winery just west of Roanoke on Highway 24 has grown exponentially. With an expansion underway of both the wine production space and the public space, it is the perfect time to catch up with Eric to hear about all that’s going on at the winery.

Q1: Where did you get the idea to start Two-EE’s? My wife's father was making wine in their basement when we first met. I took a strong interest and he and I would start a lot of home winemaking projects and eventually took over the entire basement. We made enough wine that we needed to make contacts with commercial vendors for supplies to match the quantities we produced. A majority of the wine we would give away as gifts but we had such great feedback that we decided to put together a plan to go ‘legit.' I had previous experience in owning and running a business so I put together a business plan and the rest is history.

Q2: What do you think has made Two-EE’s so successful? I measure our success by the continued praise we get when we meet new people. To hear people say "you're our absolute favorite, and we've been to Napa" means a great deal. The decisions we have made centered around what we would like to see from a winery, but hadn't. An emphasis on quality products and service, and a unique and memorable experience created by born and raised locals.

Q3: What special events and activities can our readers look forward to at Two-EE’s this summer? Our Uncorked music series throughout the summer is always a big hit. We've built an amphitheater with lawn seating and we've added quite a bit of additional seating in and around the venue to enjoy live band performances with food trucks and of course, wine. Our fireworks displays are always the talk of the town too, the day after the show is the start to the work for next years show. It is a massive production.

Q4: Where do you see Two-EE’s in five years? Ten? Had we been asked this question five years ago the answer wouldn't have been accurate so it feels a bit futile to presume we can anticipate the future now. Our focus lies in continuing what we do best, great wine with a feeling of having traveled to a far away luxury wine region but only minutes from town.  We do have a few tricks up our sleeve for the future of new and exciting things, we have 40 acres to grow our campus so I expect more within those five to 10 years.

Q5: Tell us about all the renovations that are underway. We're a tad late in executing this, we've needed more space for a while now but we wanted to take our time and do it right. We are adding more space for wine production, giving us the capacity to experiment with cutting-edge techniques to up our game even more. Of course, we are adding more room for people to enjoy our space because we're so busy, too.

Q6: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced? Managing expectations is difficult. We started this winery on a dime budget and all of our growth has been reinvested. I think it's the same for a lot of businesses though. We did not set out to meet expectations, we set out to exceed them.

Q7: What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own business? Anyone starting their own business I would advise that they take a gut check on their tolerance for stress. Some personality types are incapable of managing large amounts of stress. Regardless of the size of your business, it will be beyond a full time job. On top of that it's likely you'll have a family too and that comes first. A saying stuck with me "I'm a family man with a business, not a businessman with a family." It's important to have a support group at home, a sanctuary that grounds you and makes you whole because running a business is not for the faint of heart.

Q8: When you’re not at the winery, what can you and your family be found doing? We love spending time with friends and family. We love to visit like-minded businesses in town, people who had a vision and created something new. We like to fly under the radar, most people don't find out what we do until after they get to know us and we prefer it that way.

IMG Insurance Management Group

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