"In all honesty I was just selling to my friends," he says from his new Auckland Clay Wine Bar. "To begin with, it was the cool young hip people who were drinking it all - a bit avant-garde and ahead of their time."
Now it's far from niche. "We have absolutely everyone drinking these wines", says Dan, who established the New Zealand arm of natural and organic wine distribution business Wine Diamonds in 2014, and in the past few years has sold Scotch and established Everyday Wine retail stores in Wellington and Auckland, as well as Clay on Karangahape Rd. All the wines he sells are natural, all are organic, and his stores are also the first to pioneer packaging-free natural wines for retail, with wines on tap and in keg.
These days his customers range in age from 20 to 70, and the wines range from funky and "super easy to drink" to "serious fine wines", Dan says. "It's pretty amazing actually. And I would say if anything that that's testament to the range of natural wines."
It's not just the customer base that has changed in the past half decade, with the offering evolving well beyond the left field and funky. "When I started White Diamonds a lot of our wines were like that. And now I think they are a lot more approachable and definitely less 'fault-ridden'. Now I look at what we sell and what we distribute to restaurants and wine bars and all of our wines are a lot more universally delicious and less polarising than before," he says. "Both our wines and myself have matured somewhat."
It's a massive shift in a short time period. "We basically went from one end of the spectrum - with crazy wild wines - to now, with really well-made, really pure and really precise wines." They still celebrate and showcase "boundary pushing wines", alongside those that "tick all the boxes of a natural wine" but are pure and clean and fine," Dan says.
Bringing consumers up to speed on where natural wines are at is about education "and really just having someone on the pouring side knowing what they are doing and making sure that person is given what they are looking for," he adds. "We have got every wine under the sun now, every style, every variety."