A record-breaking THANK YOU … and how you'll get your wine even faster in 2007!
I would like to thank you and every customer personally for your wonderful enthusiasm for us and our wines in 2006. With newspapers eagerly headlining Britain's retail woes, and supermarkets now getting into every commercial activity under the sun, including of course ours, it is great - it is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC - to have friends like you. Our people here truly enjoy talking to you, meeting you, and sorting out for you wines you love. You are the reason they work so enthusiastically and happily. As a result we have just finished an extraordinary year of growth and multiple new excitements.
And December shattered all records; on the busiest day, we handled 15% more calls than on any previous biggest day(!), but virtually all orders went out of the door next day at latest. The last week I admit was scary. It’s a popular, but erroneous belief that Christmas gets earlier every year. It doesn't. It gets later. Seems to me the faster we turn orders around the later people order. Felt like we had every little white van in Britain carrying our cases that last week!
The website obviously appeals more and more to you - especially at Christmas for some reason. It’s hugely important for us now. Though old habits die hard... many still prefer to browse THEN call us up for a chat about it. Which I think is good.
Next month just outside Gloucester we open the most amazing cellars. More amazing than any I have ever seen in my travels. They have been designed and planned with almost obsessive levels of attention to detail. I’ve tried not to stick my oar in too much (you should be SO relieved to know that!) I just go there and gawp. It’s not just that everything is so gleaming and new but that all the things that, in the past, have slowed things up or gone wrong are just not there anymore.
It amuses me how it’s such a complete contrast to most of the little old cellars where we find our wines. But then this is not a cellar where wine is made. This is a like a Crewe Junction of a cellar. Like a telephone exchange for bottles. Cases in from Wagga Wagga, Montevideo or Montepulciano and cases out to Lerwick, Leeds or Launceston. No mistakes, no hold-ups, no dropping bottles.
Every year, it’s you who makes us do it faster all the time. And its thousands of wines from all sorts of small producers the world over some of whom have very different ideas about what is meant by words like 'urgent' or 'tomorrow'. (But that's our problem, not yours). You just choose and we'll get it to you faster now and even more hassle-free.
But it might just amuse you to know that next time you order it will be being picked before you finish talking and the girl putting the bottles in your box is running about with a Psion thingy in her ear talking her through where to go, what to pick next. No paper. The contrast with old Signor Manelli and his son ratcheting down their ancient press by the light of one 50-watt bulb, is just extraordinary. But both exist in wine ... and today need each other. To make wine, we love the old ways. But to give you good service as good as the wine we need all the modern wizardry we can get.
Stay with us, keep sipping our latest finds and we will keep surprising and delighting you for years to come. We love doing it. Some of us don't know how to do anything else.