Miss Indiana to open winery in NE Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The wine is bottled, the tasting room is ready, and labels are approved, so all that stands between Two EE's Winery and its grand opening is getting the labels printed and on the bottles.

Future husband and wife Eric Harris and Emily Hart -- the "two Es" -- are eager to see what started as a hobby and became an addiction finally turned into a business.

Two EE's Winery sits on a hillside along U.S. 24 between Fort Wayne and Huntington. The 6,000-square-foot winery houses a 2,000-square-foot tasting room with windows into the production room on one side and the vineyards on the other. The business has been a long time coming - ground was broken in August 2011.

Harris told The News-Sentinel in a story published Saturday that it won't be long before the winery opens, but he couldn't give an exact date.

Two EE's has bottled three wines so far: Traminette, which Harris describes as an "off dry" white wine; Dolcetto, a dry red; and Catawba, a semi-sweet rose.

With only a 2-acre vineyard most of the wine Two-EE's will produce will come from grapes imported from California or the East Coast. Harris said about 95 percent of all wineries source the majority of their fruit from other growers. "We're very involved with our growers," he said.

The small vineyard at Two-EE's is "more for fun," Harris said. Having even a small vineyard should help attract tourists to the winery. "It's because people expect to see vineyards at a winery," he said.

Two-EE's does plan to bottle a small amount of wine from its own grapes.

Eventually the winery plans to produce 25 to 30 wines over a calendar year, with about 20 different wines available at any given time. The wine will cost $10 to $25 a bottle, Harris said.

Harris said the interest in opening a winery began seven years ago when he and Hart were dating and "her dad walked up from the basement with winemaking equipment."

At that time there weren't any wineries in the area; since then Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard has opened in Laotto.

Aside from opening the winery, Hart and Harris have a lot going on in their lives, including planning a wedding. But that can't happen for a while; Hart, who is Miss Indiana USA, will compete in the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas on June 16. She can't be in the pageant if she's married.

Eventually, however, the two will marry and work together at the winery. They have no qualms about spending so much time together. "We like to hang out together," Harris said.

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