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Our Story

The Dream

David Lawson had a dream that he could change a little piece of earth located in the heart of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains into something better. He had rooted his first grape plantings from a 100-year-old Concord vine on the family farm in high school and then sold grapes at the local farmer’s market. He wanted to be an entrepreneur after taking a class in high school. He loved farming and always wanted to own a farm business.

However, David’s parents insisted that he couldn’t make a living in farming, so David went to college. As a senior at Virginia Tech, he took off a semester to work in a winery. He eventually called his parents, Ron and Suzanne, “Mom, Dad — I don’t want to be an engineer, I want to be a winemaker.” Their response was “David, you can’t be a winemaker! We live in Wise County, and no one has ever had a vineyard here.”

David countered with, “Wise County was once the second largest producer of apples in Virginia and grapes will certainly grow where apples had once thrived.” He insisted that not only would certain varieties of wine grapes grow, but that the low humidity and cooler temperatures in the mountains would make an ideal climate for grape production. He believed that the ‘not too rich’ soil of the reclaimed land could be broken up and since there was no hard pan in mined soils, the roots would grow deep.

David convinced his parents to become partners in building the first winery in Virginia’s far Southwest. The family began restoring the soil, adjusting PH, ripping, plowing, adding compost, fixing drainage, and planting special cover crops. David and his wife Brandi then bought a second vineyard in Russell County, Virginia. The winery was barely completed in time for the first harvest in 2004, and the first wines made were sold in the summer of 2005.

The “MountainRose”

The name “MountainRose” has its own unique history that adds a beautiful element to David’s story. The “Mountain Rose” is a seventh-generation family heirloom rose passed down through the family and is only one of the many rose varieties found in the vineyard today. Traditionally, roses in vineyards are considered “the canary in the coal mine.” If certain diseases show up on the roses, it can serve as a warning or indicator to protect the vines!

Dreams Really Do Come True

Most visitors can’t believe such wonderful wines are being made in the heart of historic coal country. What brings our guests back is not only the wine, but a chance to be part of the dream. The award-winning wines of MountainRose Vineyards, not the black coal of the past, are a true hidden treasure of the Appalachian Mountains today. Dreams really do come true!

Where we are today

The Piazza, our wedding event space, was added in 2012 and we built the Pavilion that also serves as our wedding reception area in 2015. More importantly, our team has expanded to include Opie Craft, assisting Suzanne with day to day operations as our Tasting Room Manager, Customer Service Agent and Festival Coordinator. We employ several part-time vineyard and winery workers as well.

We opened with four classic wines named after coal seams (Splashdam, Banner, Jawbone, and Dorchester) and now have twelve or more wines to offer including sparkling wines and our hard apple cider, Bear Creek! David has expanded Grace Vineyards in Russell County and is growing red and white grape varieties there. In our estate vineyard in Wise County, we have five additional producing varieties-mostly white grapes. We have experimental plots of other varieties and are always evaluating new varieties to expand. David is becoming very proficient at grafting his own vines as we continue to grow.

Our Family and Team

Owner, Winemaker, Viticulturist

David Lawson

Owner, Winemaker, Viticulturist

David has been growing grapes and apples for over 20 years and has played a key role in the day-to-day operations of MountainRose Vineyards since its founding. While studying engineering at Virginia Tech, he completed an internship at Prince Michel’s Winery, where he honed his pruning and grafting skills with guidance from seasoned orchard owners.

David further developed his expertise through annual workshops and training, and completed sensory wine training with renowned Wine Science professor Bruce Zoecklin from Virginia Tech. A passionate reader and researcher, David is always on the lookout for new techniques and methods in both the vineyard and the winery, ensuring that his love for viniculture continues to flourish along with his vineyards.

Owner & General Manager

Suzanne Lawson

Owner & General Manager

Suzanne has been an integral part of MountainRose since its inception. As our Chief Operations Officer, she oversees product development and sales, purchasing, marketing, advertising, event planning, and quality assurance.

Before managing MountainRose, Suzanne spent 32 years in education as a classroom teacher, college instructor, and Director of Pupil Personnel Services for Wise County Schools. She also serves as our Sip N Paint instructor and manages our seasonal greenhouse.

In her free time, Suzanne enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, and traveling, bringing her passion and dedication to every aspect of the winery.

Owner & Chief Financial Officer

Ron Lawson

Owner & Chief Financial Officer

Ron plays a vital role in the day-to-day operations of MountainRose Vineyards as our Chief Financial Officer. He is our Procurement Specialist and emergency shopper, ensuring everything runs smoothly behind the scenes.

In addition to his work at the winery, Ron is a retired educator from Wise County Schools, where he served as a teacher, principal, Media Supervisor, and later the Broadcast Engineer for the area’s first Electronic Classroom. His diverse background and dedication have been instrumental in our success.

Outside of the winery, Ron has a passion for traveling, photography, genealogy, and bird watching, pursuits that enrich his life and inspire his work. His enthusiasm and expertise are integral to the heart and soul of MountainRose Vineyards.

Tasting Room Manager

Elizabeth "Opie" Craft

Tasting Room Manager

Opie has been an integral part of the MountainRose family since 2009. She oversees customer relations, ensuring a welcoming experience in our tasting room and at off-site festivals and events. Opie also manages our social media marketing, special events, and monthly newsletters, and handles our wholesale wine deliveries.

Her previous experience with a popular dining magazine in Wilmington, North Carolina, instilled in her a deep appreciation for food and wine, which she enthusiastically shares with our customers every day.