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Wine,Wine Writer

A New Age of Wine Media: Is Gary Vaynerchuk the Millennium’s Answer to Robert Parker?

When the spot light can be shone upon a wine writer, I love doing it. My reason is simple… I enjoy writing about writers, because I know their struggles… I am one, after all. I knew I had “the gift” the first time I was accused of plagiarism for something that I had just written. (Perhaps it was because my teacher always thought of me as being a bit ditzy, but when given a specific assignment I hit the target much harder than she thought I could.)

In walks Gary Vaynerchuk, the same seemingly out-of-the-box kind of thinker, doer, sayer, and we have a new generation “Robert Parker.” Gary is using the current medium that his generation uses… The Internet. He’s also not taking the time to write everything down, but jumped right into what I call “Sesame Street mentality.” My generation’s responsible for it, sitting with our children in front of the box, twice a day, to have our children focus on the letter and number of the day in quick, amusing sound bites. All the tension of learning was taken away and learning was thrown into a state of amusement. (Is there any better way to learn? I think not. I used to teach sternocleidomastoidius muscle of the neck, and my students would get it, because I turned it into a comedy act.)

Gary is the oh-so-perfect wine reviewer that’s speaking to a whole new generation, and his gyrations are above the pomposity that we’ve come to associate as being necessary with wine. How can I ever forget meeting a young couple who, when I mentioned boxed wine, put their noses into the air? Would I ever turn that battleship around? Nope… But could Gary, if they watched one review of his on boxed wine? You betcha.

I applaud Gary Vaynerchuk, because he revers those who he knows are legends.

Case in point: One of my dear friends Louis Foppianojust Emailed Gary. Gary’s response to Louis was about as humble as humble can be… Gary, knowing that the Foppiano family has been in the US wine business since 1896, appreciates the Foppiano name (those who have come before him, and those in a position to come after Lou).

Gary appears to be having the time of his life sharing his knowledge, too. I’m betting that he didn’t ever realize what kind of popularity he was going to be enjoying, any more than Robert Parker did when he began writing about his passion.

Both Gary and Bob Parker were at the right place at the right time, delivering exactly the right message to the perfect audience. And, both of the them speak exactly to their own demographic audience in ways that are appreciated by both. Interestingly, both are about as humble as is humanly possible… Perhaps their greatest asset and the reason for their unconditional success and celebrity.

My Q & A for wine writers turned up very interesting and revealing answers with Gary. Enjoy!

[Q]  Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?

[A] I am the Director of Operations of our store Wine Library and winelibrary.com… fortunately I have a great team in place that really runs things now which has allowed me to pursue other projects like writing a book and my video blog Wine Library TV.

[Q]  When did you start writing about wine?

[A] I actually missed out on the whole blogging thing because to be honest with you I am not a very strong writer.  Video provided a great medium for me and once I was able to find my voice through video blogging it translated my personality well to the written page for my book.

[Q]  What prompted you to start writing about wine?

[A] My family came to the United States from Belarus when I was little and we have made a living as a result of this beverage… I feel like I have so much to give back to it.  I wrote the book because it was an opportunity to reach a different audience of people who are unlikely to tune in for a 30 minute show on the web.

[Q]  What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?

[A] What’s imperative to me is making people realize they don’t have to read 15 books or take expensive classes to enjoy wine, and that there is so much out there to explore.  Nothing makes me crazier than seeing someone buy case after case of the same boring name brand Chardonnay.  So I love covering the diversity of wine on my show and hopefully I did that successfully in my book as well.

[Q]  How has your job changed since you’ve started?

[A] I spend less and less time now running Wine Library and more time doing speaking engagements, interviews, and taping webcasts.

[Q]  What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?

[A] The last one!

[Q]  What’s your favorite variety?

[A] My favorite category is Champagne and sparkling wines, I definitely drink more bubbles than anything else.

[Q]  Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?

[A] Even though the Euro is beating our face in there are amazing values coming from Portugal and even Southwest France… I think there have always been good values out there but you have to know where to look for them.

[Q]  What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?

[A} Screwcaps.  It’s time to get over it people, we’re no longer talking about Boon’s Farm and Mad Dog 20/20, screw caps are here and here to stay!

[Q]  What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

[A] Sancerre and Oysters are way up there

[Q]  What are your interests outside of the wine business?

[A] The New York Jets!

[Q]  Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?

[A] Every day when I wake up and nothing has happened to any of my family or friends during the night I feel inspired to attack the day!

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