So speaking of not pushing, tell me about the Thunder Cruise.
Ya, that’s something that I haven’t been pushing at all, or rather as much as I could and I should be, and I have to, because I have more cabins to sell. This is the ultimate wine cruise experience. Three seminars a day, one Super Tasting, which is gonna be sick, worth the price alone, worked feverishly to get sponsors to lower the price of the ticket, wanted to be very inclusive. You can get a cabin for $700-800 a person. If I pull this off properly, it could be one of my real, great accomplishments. If I can create a yearly, annual Thunder Cruise situation it could become very special. I’m going to push to the bloggers to get involved, because there are going to be a lot of consumers there, so this will be a great way to tap into new consumers, you have a captive audience for a whole week…you can make some real relationships.
How has your perspective of the wine industry changed from when you taped your first show to today?
Probably more optimistic than ever. I feel like I’ve made a little bit of an imprint. I feel that my fellow bloggers have done that as well. I’m very proud to be a part of this space, and I’m proud that consumers are starting to look at different wines. There is a big shift between late 2008 and early 2006 in wine drinking trends. People are trying different things, people are getting off the same old stuff, and I feel like I’m a part of that, and that makes me very proud, so I’m very excited about where things are going.
What is your philosophy on the 100-point numerical system of rating wines?
(pause) I think they serve a purpose to certain people, but I think when people take them for gospel, it’s a problem. It’s almost like looking at, maybe religion. Anyone that takes stuff too extreme that is in the Bible or the Torah or the Kobel…you know, can get crazy, right? I think everything is good in moderation. Everything. So, I don’t think it should be abolished, or spit on like the Iron Sheik used to spit on the American flag,.I think that it is about moderation, and if you live and die by the ratings, you’re really just hurting yourself.
Do you have a beverage that is a “guilty pleasure”?
Any particular kind?
Virgil’s I like quite a bit, Westmere …I’m a very big root beer fan…I also like Kempster…
Any wine pet peeves?
No (thinking) no, I don’t. I’m a very relaxed individual.
Cork or screw cap?
How did you arrive at the word “thunder” as your adjective of choice?
In high school, when my friends and I would do something cool, like hit a 3-pointer, or play well in Madden on Sega Genesis, or whatever, we’d be like, “You brought some thunder.” So it was just a high school thing, and I hadn’t thought about it for like a decade, and then it just popped out during a show. There was great reaction to it, and I just ran with it.
What is the first wine that ever brought thunder to your world?
Masi 1995 Amarone It was the first wine that I really tasted the flavor profile. I really tasted chocolate in that wine, and it freaked my world out, because the first year I was in the wine business, from 21-22, I was selling a lot of wine but I still wasn’t tasting it.
Who is the most amazing person you’ve gotten to meet through your success?
It has nothing to do with Conan O’Brien or Jim Kramer, it’s definitely the legions of Vayniacs that I’ve met who drive five hours from Syracuse just to say hello, or have watched every episode and wear my wrist bands. It’s definitely, definitely, not even remotely close, the individual human being who works hard and watches me at two o’clock on the grave shift because they are trying to support their family. It’s the entire VaynerNation.
You can have dinner with any three people you wish, both alive or dead. Who do you choose?
Um, outside of my family?
Macho Man Randy Savage, definitely first and foremost. Probably Al Toon, former wide-receiver for the New York Jets, I’m a big fan of his, and I’d probably go with Nostradamus. I’d like to see if he could give me some more predictions. I was always fascinated by him. I was always, always fascinated by his stuff, and I know it’s like you have to interpret it and all, and we probably make it into something it isn’t.
Quite an eclectic dinner.
(laughs) Al Toon, Macho Man Randy Savage and Nostradamus. Ya, that probably sums me up. All boys too…interesting.
Are you an Elvis or Beatles guy?
Beatles…but I love Elvis. I mean honestly, that’s super tough.
Um, probably Paul McCartney