The family-owned and–operated Wine Library went from a little shop in Springfield, New Jersey called Shoppers Discount Liquors to an acclaimed new media success when Director of Operations Gary Vaynerchuk decided to begin shipping their huge selection of wines all over America, shifting from a clientele of bargain hunters to one of aficionados. By February 2006, Gary felt his prominent newsletter was too limiting, and launched the site’s Internet TV Show for all wine lovers, customers or not. As of June, the show saw roughly twenty-five-thousand viewers per episode, and his numbers keep growing.
In each show, Gary introduces the day’s topic before launching into 3-6 wine reviews. They are usually categorized by grape or region, which is noted in the title, making it easy to find a topic using the episode spreadsheet. Gary has stated he prefers to work solo where he can be casual and avoid the niceties that come with sharing the stage, but the occasional guest does appear.
So far, Gary has hosted a few Customer Appreciation Days, in which he tastes wines that have been requested by viewers (though the second one resulted in more criticism than commendation). He fares much better when he can choose his own wines to review, such as German Rieslings or Pinot Grigios. (Even if you don’t particularly care if a certain wine tastes of pinecones, it can be helpful just to hear Gary correctly pronounce some of the French and Italian wine names.)
And if you have a question to ask, Gary is very responsive. The first few minutes of every show are spent responding to viewer questions and concerns. He’s also very expressive. Much to his fans’ delight, he’s the sort of fellow who seems caffeinated at all times, snapping jokes, wisecrack criticisms, and semi-automatic, rapid-fire bursts of wine industry knowledge.
Gary is known for his unique descriptions of wines: 2005 Pessagno Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay tastes like almond shells and cream pie, for example, while 2004 Patrice Rion Les Charmes Chambolle Musigny tastes a little bit like “a sweaty sock” and a little bit like “McDonald’s fries circa 1992.”
A particularly interesting succession of episodes starts with a trick episode, billed as “the big one,” but in which he cuts off his review mid-introduction to head to a wedding. Many fans were angry. They retaliated not only in comments but in hundreds of e-mails, forcing Gary to apologize in the following episode. Others berated the attackers for their inability to take a joke. It goes to show how serious people can be about their favorite vlogs.