Early 2003 we found new premises close by at 50 Cook Street. Shifting our wine cellar operation required us to create a temporary cellar in the underground carpark at Hobson Street to house private collections while we carefully deconstructed the complex and rebuilt it in the upper floor of our new Cook St premises. Helped by family, friends and customers we executed the final shift in just 4 days, opening the doors on November 4.
Free of business disruptions in 2004 allowed us to be at our innovative best. Our ‘Top Secret Wine Launch' of Seppelt Show Reserve Sparkling Shiraz 1994 was a highlight. It involved a helicopter, a fleet of Black Volkswagen Toureg SUV's, TV/radio celeb Mikey Havoc and a cast of FWD co. team members… 100 customers enjoyed a Black Friday luncheon in our Cook Street lounge while watching the Top-Secret launch production unfold on a big screen. Fantastically successful, we purchased 600-bottles (largest order in the 100+ year history of the wine) of this $70 Aussie Shiraz Methode Traditionnelle and sold it in a week.
2005 was a strong growth year aided by the launch of our wine web site ‘Bestwinebuys', an online only channel focused exclusively in the sub $15 wine category that was fraught with low quality wine. Bestwinebuys became a trusted buying channel for sub $15 wine buyers, given its wines were subjected to the same rigorous tasting evaluation process Fine Wine Delivery Co. wines were.
Virginia hosted our first wine tour to France in May/June 2005, 22 customers on a 20-day journey through Champagne, Burgundy, the Rhone and Bordeaux. We visited many of Frances finest wine properties, enjoying extraordinary fine wine and gourmet food experiences… an amazing tour!
2006 we expanded our individual wine cellars from 50 to 64 and the new cellars were quickly snapped up. September 2006 Virginia hosted 16 FWD Co. customers on a 15-day wine tour of Argentina and Chile. Several days relaxation in Buenos Aires were followed by a week in Mendoza, a stunning coach ride over the Andes to Santiago in Chile and a week of wine visits divided equally between the Southern Colchagua and the Northern Aconcagua Valleys.
2006 was also the first of five-consecutive annual Pinot Noir Roadshows visiting Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland centres. We hosted up to 300 customers per evening, they came to taste circa 80-100 hand selected NZ Pinot Noirs from the same vintage pre-approved by our tasting panel and to meet the many winemakers.
2007 and with business booming we made plans to expand our physical presence in to Christchurch to support and grow our strong South Island customer base. Plans and developments were in full swing late 2007, but we did not foresee the looming GFC that hit early 2008.