I have been a bit slack on blogging for the last month, so I thought it was about time to get back on the horse. There has been a lot of chatter about Gary Vaynerchuck's decision to end The Daily Grape and exit the wine world. Gary has a polarising personality for many and he has certainly attracted both much praise as well as criticism, so I thought I would reflect on this.
If you don't know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, check out http://garyvaynerchuk.com. Gary is an internet, social media and wine phenomenon, who has trail blazed in his use of video to promote his passion and his brand. This has seen him turn his family business from a $4 million a year business into a $45 million one, the publication of two books and demand for him as a speaker and entrepreneur go through the roof.
I can't help but admire Gary. He is someone I will never be like and in ways wish I could. I admire his ability to sell, to enjoy the "hustle" as he calls it. He has found success and found it by following his heart and talents, and I think we could all learn from that. I remember when I first discovered Gary through my good friend Jayson Bryant. I sat in awe as I watched this video Turks and Frogs in Tribeca, it was my first WineLibraryTV show and I loved it. Over the coming months I watched back episode after back episode and really came to appreciate Gary's style and what he represented both in accessibility to wine and Social Media. Of late I have watched less shows, as my life has gotten busier and I have been going through a period of drinking less wine. However, I was still quite sad when I heard he has decided to stop doing his "wine thing". I was even more sad when I realised I had actually missed the move from WineLibraryTV to The Daily Grape. I had missed a whole show change.
I actually learnt about Gary's decision from following a link to the blog of Steve Heimoff who wrote a quite scathing entry about Gary. Steve has little time for Gary and what he represented in the wine industry. He paints Gary as a rather self absorbed creature, whose dominance had become so great, that something had to give. I have never met Gary and cannot comment on this aspect of him. But I do think it is sad that Steve does not seem to appreciate that Gary is a smart, driven individual, who cares about wine, cares about marketing, cares about Social Media, and managed to bring them all together into a a successful package. Gary was engaging and Gary enabled many many people who see the world of wine appreciation as 'wank' to come to love what wine can be.
Do I wish I could find something like Gary did and turn it into a lifestyle, passion and great money maker? Sure I do. For this reason alone, I will always admire him. As an aside, if you live in New Zealand and are interested or curious about wine. Check out Jayson Bryant's http://www.unscrewed.co.nz.