A few questions with Gary Vaynerchuk about Cork'd

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk in London

Photo credit: The hard working Tara Hunt

For those that do not know Gary, Wine Library TV, or Cork'd - let me take a second to catch you up to speed. Gary Vaynerchuk is the Director of Operations for Wine Library and began his career in wine at the ripe age of 17 (someone call the cops). He's visited every major wine region on the planet, has probably tasted more wine this week than most people do in their adult lives, and is single handedly trying to "change the wine world" (or, trying to bring the community into every aspect of wine instead of it being an elitist club as it has been for so long).

Gary's main mode of attack has been Wine Library TV, his daily video blog, where he tastes wine and rates it "live". Even though he has personal relationships with most if not all of the vineyards that have their wine in his store, Gary does not hold back with his criticisms nor his accolades. His honesty, charisma, and passion for wine has made his video blog one of the top video blogs on the Internet and certainly the number one vlog for wine!

Cork'd, the brain-child of Dan Benjamin and Dan Cederholm, is a social network centered on keeping a wine journal and creating a list of wines you'd like to try based on what you're friends have had. Cork'd is well built, beautifully designed, and bustling with active fans of wine.

For all of the above reasons - the merging of Gary Vaynerchuk's empire with Cork'd is synergy .

So now that you're all caught up to speed, I thought I'd ask Gary a few questions about his acquisition of Cork'd and what it will mean for his current WLTV audience (of which I've been a member of since the very beginning).

When did you first discover Cork'd and when did you get interested it in as a property for Wine Library?

Gary: "Last May and last May! LOL. I knew this was it, I have been dreaming of launching a name I own, ratingwines.com, for 6 years (look it up) and when i saw Cork'd my dreams were dashed :( "

I thought it was interesting that Gary knew he wanted to do something like Cork'd from the very beginning. This alone shows his dedication to his mantra or "changing the wine world". Obviously the entire industry has been geared more towards paying attention to only a select few for wine ratings. Now, using Cork'd, one can see the consensus of the entire community rather than just one person using one rating system.

To show a little history here, Dan Benjamin shows that Wine Library was the longest running sponsor for Cork'd, which shows that Gary was always in the prime position to tap into this community and that Gary was always trying to help Cork'd become the best it possibly can be:

"One of our longest running advertisers was Wine Library TV, Gary Vaynerchuk’s excellent wine videocast. Each month, Gary would call us and buy out the top-spot in the Cork’d sidebar. Behind the scenes, he was always talking about partnering with us, coming up with ways we could enhance Cork’d, tie us in to his huge database of wines and wine labels – he really wanted to see Cork’d succeed." -- [source]

It is this dedication to helping something that he didn't even own at the time that shows that Cork'd is in great hands going forward.

The synergy between Wine Library, Wine Library TV, your wine label service, and Cork'd are obvious! How long before we start to see all of these services mashed together, and what do you think the first thing to be integrated will be?

I'm a Vayniac

I'm a Vayniac - at Seneca Lake, NY

Get your shirt!

Gary: "Very soon! Give us 30-45 days to start wowing you!"

I've already seen and spoke to the WLTV crew about a few of the things they are working on. Obviously, being Viddler's Community Evangelist, I was interested to know how each episode of Wine Library TV (down to tasting each wine) would fit into this deal. Look for some pretty cool tie ins between Wine Library TV, Cork'd, and Viddler's "linking to any moment" technology. However, as a "Vayniac", I'm even more excited about having access to Gary's tastings across this entire network of sites.

What part of this entire deal has you the most excited? I know for me its being able to watch the video of you tasting a wine that I may have had right from the Cork'd site. What about you?

Gary: "The fact that people can share and enjoy each other. Cork'd has given the infrastructure needed to create the wine community I dream of. I can't wait to see wines have 100 reviews on them each, that will be fun!"

This also supports his mantra. At the end of each show, Gary emphasizes "You, with a little bit of me, we're changing the wine world. Aren't we?" Well now more than ever Gary is trying to put that power into the hands of the community rather than himself. Sure he's the ring leader (and a very good one at that) but now all of us have the ability to say what we think about the wine's we're tasting and actually have it matter instead of falling on deaf ears.

You've got a ton of loyal Vayniacs that use the WineLibrary TV forums right now. Are all of us Vayniacs going to have to sign up to Cork'd and manage both accounts, or will you try to tie those two systems together somehow?

Gary: "I think the Vayniacs and everyone else will see the use. We will have a function that allows people to post a review on Cork'd and allow that review to go right to the WL Forum's tasting notes, making it a whole 360 experience. My hope is people will see the huge value in using Cork'd though since it will also cellar your wines, keep a wish list, ect."

The Cork'd blog (currently going through some DNS issues) has been silent for awhile, and never really took off. Do you see this as having more potential than just a random post every now and then? Do you have any plans for the Cork'd blog? I know you have a wine related blog already - can they be tied together somehow or will they remain separate?

Gary: "Not sure on this front but I think this is Cork'd's voice and it needs to be talkative. We mostly want to share thoughts and interact, I'm sure we will explore all possibilities."

I'm a big proponent of blogging so I hope to see some of Cork'd's future plans, updates, and community efforts verbalized through their blog and on WLTV.

What will the JETS record be this year now that you've gone to the draft?

Gary: "16-0 with an easy win over the EAGLES;) honestly the 1st 2 games are brutal but a 10-6 is possible for sure!"

I'm pretty sure that jab is directed at Chris but I'll let him respond.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions Gary. Personally I look forward to the developments that are sure to come in the near future to tie all of these great things together and really help us change the wine world one day at a time.

Additional coverage

There has been a pretty good amount of coverage since this acquisition was announced. Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin both wrote some really great background on the entire deal. Read Cederholm's post and Benjamin's post on their personal blogs. CenterNetworks was the first to get wind of this deal, but without having all the specifics they covered only the redesign of Wine Library TV's main site. I'm thinking that someone over there is definitely doing their job. Mashable covered the actual deal but failed to get into many specifics and even got a few of their facts wrong. I think it is interesting to see, when you have inside knowledge of a "deal", just how accurate some of these stories are (or are not). All in all I think the best coverage comes from those that keep their ear to the ground, are willing to ask for information before they post it, and strive to get every fact straight before they are willing to publish.

Update: Here is a photo of Gary wearing a Viddler shirt on Digg Nation.