Drinking In and trying to Define Wine 2.0
There sure are a lot of people using the "Wine 2.0" label to help position their products and services. Nary a caution was issued at the Wine 2.0 get together in San Francisco on Friday. All the speakers, including me, were in the mood to embrace, rather than really critique, this buzzword that seems to mean….something…if not most things.
The event itself was terrific. Cornelius and Jeff from RadCru.com did a damn fine job of creating a nice venue where a hefty collection of wine folk gathered. The event was at Club Sportiva in San Francisco. As part of the event, OnTheFly.com, an online mens outlet that sells beautiful clothing and men’s gear and schwag, opened a well appointed showroom where the wine was flowing. Through the doorway into the showroom of Club Sportiva, surrounded by Ferrari’s, Jags and more Ferrari’s, was the seminar room. Here two panels of speakers sounded off on their relationship with the wine 2.0 phenomenon and sounded somewhat sage in the process.
I think my only real interesting contribution to the second panel, of which I was a part, was pointing out that the wine 2.0 phenomenon may be no more complex than a new set of technologies by which wineries communicate their story and product line to consumers, something they’ve been doing with some success with different technology long before the Internet. This would be the less reverent view of the wine 2.0 phenomenon. The most reverent view of this thing we celebrated on Friday would be the view that Online Social networking around wine will change the way all Americans understand the beverage and lead to a startling democratization of the beverage that will lead laggards to the partly in the dust.
The highlight of the panels was clearly Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. Gary’s a star now. It appears he knows this too and I think that knowledge has made him an even better advocate for the kind of full frontal wine enthusiasm he is spawning via WineLibrary TV. This is an excitable man who balances cynicism with pure love for wine. He pulls no punches, is a good performer, a good advocate for wine and one of the smartest young men in wine today. And he cracks me up too.
This Wine 2.0 community is a small one; that is to say, those behind the technology driving the new ventures seem to know or be aware of one another. About half way through the event I stopped counting the number of folks who I’ve had previous email or comment conversations with or spoken to on the phone but finally met face-to-face for the first time that night. I got the impression this was the experience of many of the folks in the room. What’s hard to tell is if I was in the middle of a gathering of the future brain trust of the American wine industry. It’s entirely possible. But one can’t be sure. Much will depend on the success of the various entrepreneurs that were in the room.
The next Wine 2.0 event, assuming the RadCru duo hold it again next year, will be bigger and better. Everyone I spoke to agreed this second gathering was much better and more useful than the first. I’m looking forward to it. These annual gatherings of wine’s tech-happy folk will be a good gauge of just how fast new technology and ideas catch on or slide by the wayside.