Autumn has officially arrived, and with it comes the traditional Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. On the first day, the Walt Disney World Public Relations team invited world-renowned wine enthusiast and Jets fan, Gary Vaynerchuk, to host a couple of seminars at Epcot.
Meet Gary Vaynerchuk (VAY*NER*CHUK), a 33-year-old self-trained wine and social media expert who has revolutionized the wine industry. Gary’s cult-like following is the result of his unconventional, often irreverent commentary on wine, combined with his business acumen and foresight to use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to reach an untapped audience. He hosts a daily webcast called “The Thunder Show”on tv.winelibrary.com that attracts over 90,000 viewers each day. Recently, Gary’s podcast became the most downloaded show on iTunes in the Food category, beating out venerable names in the industry including Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver.
Known as the “King of Social Media,” Gary is one of the first–and one of a few–Facebook users who has maxed-out his friend limit, with over 17,000 pending friend requests. He is in the top 100 people followed on Twitter and was the keynote speaker at noted events like the 2009 South by Southwest Interactive conference and the New Media and Web 2.0 expos. A weekly contributor to TheStreet.com and Popeater.com, Gary is regularly asked to consult on social media for some of the world’s largest and most recognizable companies like Google, Johnson & Johnson, Disney, Proctor & Gamble, and Pepsi.
Biography from Amazon.com
The first seminar was held at Italy on the World Showcase. Despite the sweltering heat, it was a beautiful day, Gary was a gracious and wonderful host to his guests. We sampled three wines from Portugal: Quinta Do Cabriz, Monte Da Cal Red and Quinta Do Castor Douro Red.
All three wines ranked “…meh” from me, on Gary’s official scale of wine rankings. This could have been due to the 90+ degree heat the wine was subjected to during the seminar and I plan on trying these bottles at home in a more controlled environment.
Video Playlist from Seminar 1
The second seminar was held a little later in the day and, fortunately was inside the Odyssey Restaurant. This seminar followed the same tasting schedule as well as had a little bit longer Q&A session with Gary.
The wines we sampled during this seminar were: Chianti Classico, Green Point Reserve Shiraz and Sartori Di Verona. These wines also rated only a “…meh” from me during the seminar. Being more of a controlled environment, I hold to my tasting during these seminars.
Video Playlist from Seminar 2
Wrapping it Up
This was a fantastic opportunity to hear from one of the original voices in the wine world, but also someone who has leveraged social media in today’s market to create a powerful brand that is recognizable around the globe. Gary was enthusiastic, friendly and very approachable during and after the seminars.
I learned a lot about wine during these seminars and appreciate the ability of hosts like Gary to speak through the clutter that can so often populate such a topic as wine and present the topic in a straight-forward, conversational manner.
He was willing to answer any questions and the only reason he had to stop was to get to some of the other commitments that he had to fulfill during the festival. If you have a chance to see Gary in person, do it! The only things I really wanted to learn more about was his view on the social media scene today and how he sees it affecting his business in the coming months, but I guess I can ask him that next time I see him.
This was a great start to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and I look forward to the multitude of seminars, guests, vintners, chefs and performers that will be visiting during the festival. Make your plans now to visit the festival and if you have not already checked out our guide, make sure you save the link#mce_temp_url# for your iPhone to help you while you visit the festival.