This isn't a rags-to-riches story, but Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard is a textbook case of Fortune 500 companies trying to wade into the Web.
Charlie Kears, general manager of the winery, first resisted the Internet. Costs were daunting. Maintenance headaches were legion. Besides, he wasn't even sure what advantages lay in a Web presence. But he found an affordable solution in IBM's Net.Commerce technology.
The company originally used the site for branding and marketing. But the vintner's tasting room hosted 75,000 to 80,000 people a year, many of whom loaded their car trunks with cases of Fess Parker's finest as they left. Kears saw an opportunity in retail and added e-commerce capability to the company's site. Sales took off.
The closely held company won't disclose revenues, but Kears acknowledges that sales on the Web are up 80 percent over previous years. Fess Parker Vineyards now produces a line of foods and other products. By far, Web sales outstrip all other retail revenue streams in terms of annual growth.
Kears isn't stopping there. His next goal is to use the Net to support the company's national distribution channel. He admits that Fess Parker Vineyards isn't the next Amazon.com. But no one's complaining about the Web's effect on the company's bottom line.