Sometimes posts take several days, or even months, to get published here. Along the way, details are added and subtracted as I think about the story and form an opinion.
This is one of those posts.
I started writing this post on August 2, 2007 after 6 months inside what I began to call, “The Cult of Gary.” Of course, I was a lurker only commenting on the odd episode and not really participating with the discussion Gary Vaynerchuk has led for the past two years at Wine Library TV. And I think I nearly missed the point of why Gary connects with so many people; it’s his humanity.
But the first draft of this post did not mention humanity but focused on the ethics of using a scoring system in his reviews, lack of disclosure on the podcast of being a wine retailer and his unorthodox approach to palate training (I still would like to know what Bob Parker, Jim Laube or Steve Tanzer thought of Gary’s schtick on Conan O’Brien and Ellen). It also bothered me that Gary was so opaque to the wine blogger community who socialize on Twitter and often email each other on various subjects. Each time I hovered over the “Publish” button, something held me back from sharing my insights on the most celebrated wine podcaster in the world. Sometimes it would be to soften the language so it wouldn’t sound like sour grapes, other times it would be something Gary did that provoked more investigation.
So months past and the post stayed in my drafts folder waiting for more context in order to complete it. I found that context last week with this short video Gary published on his personal blog:
I have come to the conclusion that Gary is one of the most influential people in wine today not because he’s got the best palate — although he’s got mad skills there — but in the way he’s almost single handily changing wine marketing. He’s often quoted saying that the wine business is “broken” and he’s trying to fix it. I agree and applaud his efforts in demystifying wine and making it fun for those outside the wine blogosphere. Watching Robert Scoble’s video from last weekend shows this first hand:
My earlier concerns diminished as I realized that those of us in the wine blogosphere are not Gary’s audience. As the hardest working man in wine podcasting, he’s delivering the goods to tens of thousands who would be bored stiff reading about wine. Yes, I’d like to see some disclosure but this seems like a quibble when looking at the amount of good Gary is doing for wine podcasting and blogging.
So I think everyone interested in wine should watch Wine Library TV at least once a week. Because the kid has heart. And skills.