Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk retires

Gary Vaynerchuk retires

Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk!

Gary Vaynerchuk is arguably one of the biggest names is the wine business and social media.  He built a $65 Million wine empire out of the Wine Library through passionate daily wine videos.  He pioneered the idea of personal branding through the new media.

Late last year Gary announced that he was pulling out of his daily wine community website,  Then on his 1,000th Wine Library TV episode he announced that he was retiring from WLTV, to pursue a new venture called The Daily Grape.

Yesterday Gary announced that he is retiring from producing wine related content altogether.  The news came as quite a surprise to much of the social media and wine blogging community.  In explaining why he was doing this Gary explained in episode #89 of The Daily Grape that he just felt ready, he felt that it was time to move on.  He explained that he has always been an entrepreneur first and that he sold lemonade and baseball cards before he got into wine.  He is going to be looking for new opportunities,  unrelated to wine.  Many people have speculated that this has something to do with his Social Media and Branding company, Vayner Media, but Gary also said that he is not retiring so he can do more of Vayner Media.

It will be interesting to see what he comes up with and how long he can manage to abstain from making wine videos for!

Gary Vaynerchuk retires from Wine Library TV

Monday, March 14th 2011 marked the 1,000th episode of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV show, aka “The Thundershow”  It also is the end of WLTV as we know it.  Gary announced early in the episode that he was no longer going to be making new WLTV content on a regular basis.  Within minutes Twitter was lit up with re-tweets and surprised fans as well as well wishers.   While Gary announced there will be no new WLTV episodes (maybe) he did give fans something new to get excited about. is where Gary’s wine reviews, videos and a brand new newsletter will be featured.  So while WLTV has been put to rest, it is definitely not the last time you’ll see Gary making a wine related video (did you think it was?!)

Gary explained, as he has in his new book The Thank You Economy that mobile is really where the future lies, and as such Daily Grape will have an app for that.  Gary did mention, that he will still occasionally produce content for Wine Library TV, but that content will be reserved for one on one interviews with the biggest names in wine, and will be much longer than the 5 to 6 minute episodes featured on Daily Grape.  Wine Library TV will be Gary’s “Barbara Walters Special” as Gary put it.

View the last episode of Wine Library TV

View the first episode of Daily Grape Shutting down logo

where's the content?

Gary Vaynerchuk’s has been a great way to review share and discuss wine.  Over the past year a new “corkd content” section was added. Corkd senior editor Jonathan Troutman worked with bloggers, sommeliers and wine aficionados to produce educational wine content on a daily basis.  I was contacted by Gary, Jon and Corkd CEO Lindsay Ronga early last year to guest write and I jumped at the opportunity.  I managed to pump out (with the help of Jon’s impressive editing skills) 40 arcticles.

But if you’ve visited the Corkd Content recently you will have noticed that there have been no new guest blogger updates since December 13th.  And @Corkd hasn’t tweeted since December 15th.  What’s going on? Are they planning to rebrand/revamp the content portion of  Are they shutting down, selling out? There are definitely some changes coming, but the team has been very hush hush about what the plans are.  I have been in email contact with Jonathan Troutman and asked him if Corkd was going to be revamping, rebranding, and asked him point blank “What is going on over at Corkd?”  He responded by saying he should have an answer to my questions very soon.

…stay tuned…

UPDATE: Corkd Content is winding down operations.  Lindsay Ronga will be “moving on to other opportunities” according to the final tasting note posted on on January 12th.  Senior editor Jonathon Troutman will be working with Gary Vaynerchuk in other capacities. will still be operational, but there will be no new content or maintenance.  Gary said in a video post that the site will be up for a couple more months to give people time to export their reviews elsewhere.  He also mentioned the possibility of selling the site.

Arizona Judgement 2010: Arizona Wines Vs. The World

All eyes and palates will be on Arizona wines on June 2nd, for Arizona Judgement 2010. Pavle Millic, co-owner of FnB restaurant will be hosting the event.

Arizona State Flag

Note:  The event is not open to the public.  FnB can only fit about 35 people, so the event is limited to judges and a few members of the press.  This event is reminiscent of the Judgment of Paris, 1976.  The movie “Bottle Shock” is based on those events.

Here’s how it is going to work:  There will be 5 red and 5 white wines from Arizona going head to head against wines of the world.  It will be a blind tasting, so the judges won’t know which is which.  The Judges will make notes and keep score.  At the end, the wines and results will be revealed.

Who are the  Panelists?

An Arizona wine

Gary Vaynerchuk:  Host of the daily wine blog “Wine Library TV”, New York Times best seller “Crush It!”, and co owner of Vayner Media. a branding and consulting firm.

Laura Williamson:   Laura Williamson is one of only 105 people in North America who have earned the title of ‘Master Sommelier and she is one of only 15 women with the title.  Laura is also a Certified Wine Educator.  She is co-owner of Vin Tabla restaurant in Tucson where she manages the wine list.  She also lectures nationally. Check out her Bio at the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Tadeo Borchardt:  Tadeo is winemaker for Napa Valley’s Neyers Vineyards. Neyers Vineyards regularly scores 90+ points from Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.  Tadeo graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Arizona.

Anne Rosenzweig: Anne has earned not one but two elusive and prestigious 3 Star Ratings from the New York Times.  One for each of ear East Side Manhattan restaurants Arcadia and the Lobster Club.  She opened Arcadia in 1985, and the Lobster Club in 1995. Read a little more about Anne in this article from Cuisine Net’s Diner’s Digest.

Mark Tarbell:  Mark is owner of Tarbell’s restaurant on Camelback, as well as the Oven, and the restaurant Home in Colorado.  He is also Arizona Republics wine critic.  Mark’s restaurants have won dozens of awards including Food and Wine’s “Best Restaurant”.  Mark has also been a judge at The Los Angeles International Wine Competition for the past 10 years.

Chris Bianco: Chef at Pizzeria  Bianco, James Beard award-winning chef that is!  Pizzeria Bianco has been rated by the New York Times as one of the best Pizzeria’s in the WORLD!!

Sommelier Journal will be assessing the results and providing final analysis.

I recently emailed Pavle Milic some questions I had about him, and the event:

WWJ: Where are you from, where did you grow up?

Pavle Milic:  Father defected from Communist Yugoslavia (Montenegro) in 1962.  He landed in Colombia, South America where he met my mom and I happened.  I grew up in Queens, New York with a pack of Jews and Italians.  I can say Shabbat Shalom on the weekends, drink grappa and break a leg (someone else’s) all at the same time.

WWJ:  How did you end up in Arizona?

Pavle Milic: Parents moved here in 1988 to open an Italian restaurant called Franco’s Trattoria on Mountain View and Hayden

WWJ: How long have you been in the restaurant business?

Pavle Milic: 22 years

WWJ:  How did you come up with the Arizona Judgement idea?  Was there an aha! moment?

Pavle Milic:  I have tasted a lot of guests in a blind setting.  Arizona wines have always faired well. When I performed blind tastings before I decided to do the list, guests loved the wine. Now that the wines are on a printed list–assumptions are made, like the wine isn’t good.   If you are judging a wine on balance and quality I think they are great.   I thought, why not have a tasting where we pair AZ juice against other wine regions and see what happens.  So here we are!

WWJ:  You are a very enthusiastic promoter of Arizona wines, why?

Pavle Milic: It felt good. I am not reinventing the wheel. Many restaurants close to wine regions pour the local bounty of the terroir. I figure this was a no-brainer. The idea of pouring local wines was also analogous to the way Charleen(Charleen Badman Co-Owner and head Chef at FnB) sources most of the time. I also felt honored and proud to partake, even at a limited capacity, in the beginning of something special. The folks that I met were passionate, creative, irreverent and true. I remember reading about Napa and its grassroots beginnings and the pioneering spirit of its people. I felt I was rubbing elbows with people whose energy was redolent of times past. I also felt that by pouring these wines I would help the local economy and minimize carbon footprint.  I firmly believe that this is how you build community. You support each other and endorse each other for working hard and making Arizona a great place to live. It is certainly acceptable to look outside of our state for inspiration, but there is so much to be proud of here. If the wines were not balanced and quality driven, I would not have done this. BTW-I love wines from all over the world.