Wine Library TV’s Gary Vaynerchuk alerts the wine industry of major changes being brought on by new media and social media, but defends the old guard – Robert Parker and Wine Spectator – for being the first to take wine to a new level of popularity.
Question: How is new media changing the way wine is judged?
Gary Vaynerchuk: You know, new media is redefining everything. If you're in the restaurant-loving world, as I am, the big thing you look for is a Zagat rating—and now I don't look at that, I look at my iPhone and look at what Yelp scored it. So this is going to far outreach just wine. Every single word of mouth business, which, I don't know if you know this, is every business in the world, is going to be affected by this shift. This is printing press big. This is not some little fad. This isn't about Twitter. This isn't about a Facebook fan page or Tumblr. This is game changing.
The Internet that we know, I know it went back further nerds, I'm sorry, but I'm talking about the one that we know—the one that AOL started sending CDs in the mail, is about 14 years old. And if you think about the impact globally, financially, business-wise, that it's had, it's staggering. And to be naive enough to think that it's not going to have a way bigger impact going forward, I don't even want to think about what's going to happen in five years. It's just a totally big shift; these are big waves and they're constant. This is a hurricane. This isn't a drizzle.
So I think it's on a big one on the wine industry. I know what Wine Library TV has meant to wineries that have gotten good ratings or bad ratings and when I can do something as one individual with zero costs, just sweat equity, and create a platform like Wine Library TV that has the same impact that things like the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker have had, which have had decades of a head start and millions of millions of dollars in tons of infrastructure that needs to be paid attention to and understood that it's replicatable in multiple platforms.
Question: Do you oppose the influence of wine critics like Robert Parker?
Gary Vaynerchuk: You know, I think its funny. I think there is this huge trend that everybody is so excited to diss Parker and Spectator and the 100-point scale, but at the end of the day, if you really go back prior to them coming alone, wine was this big. And I think that, at some level, it made it a little bit more inclusive. People understand what a 99 means in a 100-point scale, what an 81 means. Before you blame Parker and Spectator, you should blame the retailers and the wineries who have made them big. If I didn't put Robert Parker shelf talkers on every wine in my store, well when I e-mailed out saying 95 points Parker, we wouldn't mean anything, right?
So, well, obviously, not just me, I mean everybody. So I think that it's imperative for people to understand that I think it had a lot of value. Do I believe that community driven stuff like Yelp is going to be important? Sure, I do. That's why I bought Corkd.com and why I'm re-launching it now, which is actually—we probably just re-launched it, by the way, which is amazing.
So yeah. A big misconception of Wine Library TV, what I do, is people think I want to be the new Parker or the new Spectator. I have no interest in that. I just want to build wine self-esteem.
Recorded on: September 15, 2009