By Rylee McOuat
When you think of a successful business that boasts its own headquarters in the city, sales statistics that have already doubled in under a year, partnerships with other local businesses and established government markets, and continual customer loyalty, you wouldn’t think that the faces behind the operation belong to that of two young entrepreneurs in their early twenties.
Shrugging Doctor Brewing Co., created and based right here in Winnipeg, is defying all traditional expectations for that of a successful brewing company. Dedicated to creating unique and delicious locally crafted wines, co-founders Willows Christopher and Zach Isaacs have a sense of drive and commitment, unlike any business owners.
The journey of Shrugging Doctor goes back only as recently as 2014 when the vision of their business was yet to be realized. “I wrote the business plan when I was eighteen,” says Willows with a chuckle, “I’d always had an entrepreneurial way of thinking, ever since I was a kid.” Willows is recognized as the head of sales and marketing, with Zach’s title being the official (and only) winemaker. “We’re entirely self-made and self-operated. It’s just the two of us running things and manufacturing the wines.” An impressive statement considering the amount of work and ability running a liquor crafting business demands.
Though the business plan was written up in 2014, it took until just this year for Shrugging Doctor to be available for the selling of any of the wines. Due to provincial and federal regulations for liquor crafting, there was an approximate three-year delay in the actual selling of any of their wines, even with the necessary funding for their business already in place. Nevertheless, the co-founders persevered and launched their winery in January of 2017 and were met with consistent and growing positivity in sales as well as business awareness. Shrugging Doctor is also setting precedent with the liquor crafting industry, with some regulations being more presently established due to its existence in the liquor industry. “I don’t think I’ve slept in about three years but it’s definitely worth it,” Willows adds.
Keeping up with the growing demands for their wines has been an increasing challenge. “It’s certainly a good problem to have though,” Willows says on the topic of sales demands. Currently, Shrugging Doctor wines can be found in Liquor Marts all throughout the city and throughout Manitoba, including Brandon, Steinbach, Selkirk, Thompson and more. Their wines can also be found at local favorites, such as Barley Brothers and Tipsy Cow. “We really want to bring awareness to wine that is locally crafted and not just coming from the most commonly bought brands.” they both say in agreement. Since their January opening, Shrugging Doctor has also more than doubled their capacity in brewing, with Willows and Zach purchasing multiple wine brewing structures called vats in order to keep up with demands. The brewing of the wines is a very technical and extensive process, with the results being a distinctive tasting wine.
Among their most popular is their Apple Cider wine, along with their Cranberry and new to sales Strawberry Rhubarb wine. They’ve also previously had a Saskatoon Berry wine, which was very popular with the public. “We try to add new variety in the wines about every month,” Willows says.
Perhaps one of Shrugging Doctor’s most unique offerings is that the business is the only wine delivery service in the entire city. All you have to do is go online and you can order their wines and they’ll deliver it to your doorstep within an hour, with their hours of delivery being 6 P.M. to 12 A.M., seven days a week. “We are the first winery that sells our product directly to the public.” Willows comments. You can also buy directly from their headquarters, which is at 448B Brooklyn Street. On top of all their other services, they also do wedding shows and catering. “We are entirely open to working with people and meeting their needs,” says Willows.
For more information on Shrugging Doctor and to order their wine for delivery, you can visit their website at shrugdoc.com.