Lake Stevens chiropractor uncorks career as winemaker
Dr. Dave, as he is known to many of his patients, splits his time between Lake Stevens and Plain, Wash., where he owns and operates Napeequa Vintners.
Morris and his two part-time staff at the winery go through the process of crushing grapes from the Yakima Valley to bottling the wine for the Napeequa tasting room and for sale.
"Clientele is 90 percent westsiders with second homes," in the Lake Wenatchee or Leavenworth areas, Morris said.
Having two careers suits Morris who, at 12 years old, first went to a chiropractor while suffering from a football injury. The young Morris saw his chiropractor working with the spine and adjusting in a simple, honest and obvious way. He was intrigued.
"That was the hook," Morris said.
At the suggestion of his family chiropractor and after attending Everett Community College and Central Washington University, Morris moved to South Carolina to attend Sherman College of Chiropractic.
It was during that time that Morris had his wine epiphany. Another student who was a sommelier overheard Morris say that he didn't know the difference between a $2 bottle of wine and a $200 bottle of wine. The sommelier invited Morris to kitchen store tastings.
"I soon found out the difference between the two bottles," Morris said.
On his return to the Pacific Northwest, Morris befriended staff at McCarthy & Schiering wine tastings who invited him to trade tastings.
"I got to see what went on behind the scenes," Morris said.
Morris, who started his chiropractor business in Lake Stevens in 1986, moved to Plain in 1999 where he had already been spending his leisure time skiing and enjoying the outdoors. He kept his chiropractic business in Lake Stevens and built a house in Plain. He started his winery in 2004. Two years later, the Napeequa tasting room was opened.
Approximately 1,200 cases of Napeequa Vintner wine are sold each year, the most popular being Trailhead, a cabernet blend, Sexy Little Red, a merlot blend, and malbec. Revenues have steadily increased 15 to 20 percent each year, he said.
Morris named his business after the Napeequa River Valley located just north of the central Cascade Range. Morris has spent time in the area hiking and enjoying the outdoors.
"It's one of the most pristine and least traveled valleys in Eastern Washington." Morris said. "Just gorgeous."
Tasting room manager Kim Wiley has worked at Napeequa Vintners since 2006.
After working in a tasting room in Leavenworth she was pleased to get a job nearer home and happy to work with Morris.
"He makes good wine," Wiley said.
Every weekend brings different favorites for those stopping in for tastings.
"They all end up liking everything," Wiley said, adding that the Sexy Little Red is a highlight.
For her taste Napeequa offers a good selection of wines and a No. 1 is hard to pick.
"It kind of depends," Wiley said. "One of the standouts is the malbecs."
Morris finds balance in being a chiropractor in Snohomish County and a vintner in Plain. Healthcare and seeing people in pain can zap a lot of energy while Napeequa Vintners replenishes.
"One is discharging," Morris said. "One is recharging."
Being a small-business owner can mean that the burden of the operation is on one or two people only. Morris suggests being careful to remember that the late nights working are about passion for the business and he is careful that his creative juices don't get squashed. His off time passion helps, too.
"I spend every second I can get cycling," Morris said. "The phone doesn't ring. It's my space."
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