"Wine Person of the Decade" from Cellar Tracker/Dr. Vino

When I saw the title of the poll on Cellar Tracker, I started thinking of my own criteria:
a) influence
b) uncompromising, high standards
c) independence - following his/her own ideals
d) success in both good and bad economic environments
e) part of a movement of dominant or growing influence
f) someone others see as a role model
...yadda-yadda

I'm thinking, "Cool, I'll go vote for Manfred Krankl." Uh, yeah, right - not even on the list of nominees. So who is?

1) John Casella (Yellow Tail) Eek
2) Fred Franzia (Two Buck Chuck, convicted felon, screw appellations like "Napa")
3) PAUL GIAMATTI???!!! [no emoticon suitable]
4) Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV) Roll Eyes
(also on the list = Shin and Yoko Kobayashi, authors of a Japanese comic Confused, Eric Levine - cellartracker, Robert Parker, and Terry Theise - importer; advocate of 'grower Champagnes')

Please tell me this is a joke... a very sad joke. An actor in a movie about wine is the Wine Person of the Decade?! ("I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" = AMA's "Person of the Year"?!) A man convicted of grape-sourcing crimes is your role model for the decade?! That's like making Kanye West the VMA's "Person of the Year"! How long has Vay-ner-chuk even been... well, yelling into a camera to be published on the internet?

As for me, my nominees would be:
1) Manfred Krankl: the definition of independent and uncompromising, a leading figure in the Rhone-Ranger movement - perhaps the most important development in the CA wine industry in the past decade, and unmatched success in that same time
2) Lamberto Frescobaldi: leading Marchesi de' Frescobaldi into an even more dominant role in Italy, taking over the void left by the Mondavi corporation in Luce and Ornellaia, and leading Ornellaia into what may be its greatest achievements yet
3) Pierre Lurton: not just taking over at Chateau d'Yquem, but overhauling their marketing strategies and leading them in what may turn out to be their best decade ever - which is saying A LOT!
4) Philippe Cambie: revolutionizing wine-making in Chateauneuf du Pape and changing some very long-held beliefs about barrel-aging (specifically in relation to Grenache); behind the scenes and not so publicly well-known, but his influence is immense!
5) I can't help but to tip my hat to those great, influential people we lost this decade, not limited to, but including Robert Mondavi, Denis Mortet, Alois Kracher, Didier Daguenau, and Paul Avril.

How about you? Who is your "Wine Person of the Decade"?
Original Post
I don't know Stickman - Lurton?? He was hired to manage an estate and did so. But isn't that what he was paid for? How does that make him a significant figure in the wine business any more than any other successful manager? Same with Frescobaldi.

It's not to knock their achievements, but there are many people who were hired to manage estates and did so well?

Mondavi's achievements pre-dated this decade, as did the others in #5. All worthies, but their reputations are based on prior achievements.

Gary V came out of nowwhere really. He was a regular retailer who is now a world-wide phenom. I've met people all over the world who know him. You don't have to love the schtick to respect what he's done - he's the first credible critic outside of print for starters. Is there any other critic on TV, radio, or anywhere who has his reach? He pushed WL into e-commerce faster and farther than any other retailer, he revolutionized wine selling in the US, and he's replaced, or symbolizes the replacement of, print critics.

Eric Levine has also done that to a large extent. People go to their cellars, check CT for current drinking reports, and select a wine based on that. It's something that was never possible before he created CT. Both of these guys have done something very new and different. Prior to CT, people would clip out the WS chart or Parker chart and that was all they had to go on, even if the scores, notes, etc., were a year or two or three or five past.

Rhone Rangers are close to my heart because I like those wines, but I don't think they were all that important to the wine industry in Italy or Greece. They grow grenache in CA. That's nice, but how does it get them recognition as some of the most important people of the decade?

Tyler put it up but I'd have to say that Eric and Gary are two of the people who symbolize the decade - they made use of social media, they changed wine consumption patterns and the wine community itself, and they couldn't have existed in an earlier decade.
Stickman - Your #1 criteria was "influence", which I agree with. By that criteria, Paul Giamatti's character (not the man himself) has had MUCH more influence on the wine market in the US this decade than your top pick, Manfred Krankl. Think about it, how many typical US wine consumers have even HEARD of SQN, much less tried it (as many on this board have not, including me). Yet how many now pick up a bottle of pinot noir at the grocery store instead of merlot as it is now perceived as a much "cooler" wine? Thank Sideways for that whether you like it or not. I voted for him on that basis.

I love CT and respect what Eric has done with it, though I think it is significant only among the relatively small wine enthusiast niche. I was also a little disappointed that he plugged CT with a header on his site regarding this vote that struck me as self serving.
quote:
Originally posted by vinole:
I was also a little disappointed that he plugged CT with a header on his site regarding this vote that struck me as self serving.



i don't think that is totally fair. i think it shows that he respects this community enough to put it on his webpage. plus CT is a voluntary payment site which is pretty cool & i wouldn't consider self serving.

as far as the criticism about him being "wine person of the decade" i will agree with you that it is totally debatable.
quote:
Originally posted by marinelli:
quote:
Originally posted by vinole:
I was also a little disappointed that he plugged CT with a header on his site regarding this vote that struck me as self serving.



i don't think that is totally fair. i think it shows that he respects this community enough to put it on his webpage. plus CT is a voluntary payment site which is pretty cool & i wouldn't consider self serving.

as far as the criticism about him being "wine person of the decade" i will agree with you that it is totally debatable.


Well, it was gone this morning. It came across as "vote for me" as it mentioned CT was leading on the Dr Vino site and asked people to vote.
quote:
Originally posted by vinole:
quote:
Originally posted by marinelli:
quote:
Originally posted by vinole:
I was also a little disappointed that he plugged CT with a header on his site regarding this vote that struck me as self serving.



i don't think that is totally fair. i think it shows that he respects this community enough to put it on his webpage. plus CT is a voluntary payment site which is pretty cool & i wouldn't consider self serving.

as far as the criticism about him being "wine person of the decade" i will agree with you that it is totally debatable.


Well, it was gone this morning. It came across as "vote for me" as it mentioned CT was leading on the Dr Vino site and asked people to vote.



i can see how it can come across like that. personally i always hated promoting myself & advertising. it did feel self serving but that is the game that everyone is playing.
Hi folks, I do find the whole "Person of the Decade" thing more than a bit preposterous, and a day before the poll was even posted (there were some separate blog posts and a pseudo nominating process) I expressed my own discomfort here:
http://www.cellartracker.com/forum/tm.asp?m=81863

Also if you look at the poll you will find my own comment early on:

On December 21st, 2009 at 3:49 pm ,Eric LeVine wrote:

Wow, I have to say, I am stunned, actually a little embarrassed. I just don’t feel deserving.

CellarTracker is about its users and not about me. I will be the first to tell you that CellarTracker is very deep and very sticky for the 40,000-50,000 wine lovers who use it weekly to track their cellars. That said, it is still a very niche application. Maybe as the number of user reviews stretches from 1 million to 10 or 15 million you may see it emerge as a Yelp of wine for the coming decade. I still don’t see how that makes ME a wine personality for the past decade though.

All that said, I am humbled by the comments both here and in the prior (nominating) thread. Mostly, I am just so happy that my ability to invent some technology can in any way deepen wine appreciation for others.

Sincerely,
-Eric LeVine
CellarTracker.com


Interestingly CT has been leading with anywhere from 40-60% of the vote from within an hour of this poll going live. Now I will admit, once the contest was running for a day, I am not above using the tools I have at my disposal, and I did have a link on my site. (I pulled it down last night after reading this thread.) I have been blown away not by the poll response but rather by the 40 comments that mention CellarTracker. I am quite surprised at the depth of reaction and how articulately people have expressed that.

And fair warning, in the next day or two (tonight if I can break away from my coding) I am going to release my end of year retrospective and a video-demo of the new site with a brief intro from me ... and I may well mention the poll.
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
While I'm not a CellarTracker guy, I truly appreciate Eric. He always seems to be a stand-up and transparent person.

We wine enthusiast can always use more people with these traits contributing to the world of wine in my opinion.

Thank you. That is a very kind thing to say and is what I strive for. I'm actually just a nerd.
quote:
Originally posted by Eric LeVine:
Interestingly, CT has been leading with anywhere from 40-60% of the vote from within an hour of this poll going live. Now I will admit, once the contest was running for a day, I am not above using the tools I have at my disposal, and I did have a link on my site. (I pulled it down last night after reading this thread.) I have been blown away not by the poll response but rather by the 40 comments that mention CellarTracker. I am quite surprised at the depth of reaction and how articulately people have expressed that.


Eric, you have always conducted yourself in a class manner, which is why that header didn't quite fit with my perception. I'm glad you took it down as you obviously don't need the help Big Grin. I have admitted I didn't vote for you based on the reasons previously stated, but you are certainly my choice for a Wine Enthusiast's Person of the Decade, as CT has made my wine drinking experience more enjoyable by better knowing when to drink a wine, getting vastly more opinions on a wine, and knowing what others are paying. Not to mention all the reports you can generate. A great product from a passionate and class guy.
Eric your humble response is appreciated. I have created online applications in the past for certain niche markets more out of the passion for the subject then to cash in on a quick buck so i can truly appreciate what you have created. I have a feeling this is just the beginning & you are just scratching the surface. Salute!
quote:
Originally posted by Eric LeVine:

I'm actually just a nerd.


Eric, nerd's can be a stand-up and transparent person also. Wink

On a side note, I'm thinking about taking an inventory before the end of the year. If I do, I will finally cave in and join CellarTracker. Eek

Hopefully, this will get all of my friends off of my back. Wink
w+a, if you do take an inventory with a goal of getting to CT, you can do a shorthand into Excel (don't be obsessive about the wine name details as these are just for searching the CT database) and then use the bulk import tool. Please also note that you can then download any data you put into CT, including the full wine name details once you match them as described here: http://www.cellartracker.com/bulkfaq.asp
Eric your humbleness is like the guy that won the Peace Prize.

You have provided a great tool for enjoyment of wine. I'd be lost without it.

Yes. Accept the award, you truly deserve it. Thanks for all the work and perseverance.

PS: Yes CBS goofed.
GregT...I think you hit the nail squarely on the head.

Gary V - I had no idea his WL TV would take off the way it did. I still remember when I posted this:

http://forums.winespectator.co...=220108283#220108283

After he first got it off the ground. I found it more humorous (still do) than useful. He's a great personality and comedian. And...I suppose that's most of what people really want these days...they want the marketing, and a personality equal to or more than the product itself. That's where we are with music(Lady Ga Ga), sports(Tiger), and politics(Palin). Even negative marketing is good (I think Tiger will prove this in another year...Martha Stewart and a host of others sure have).

Eric - Even though you claim to be a "nerd"...you've revolutionized wine reviewing. And provided technological savy to help us everyday wine consumers. I still think we've yet to see the full impact of what you've accomplished. Right now the wine market still relies heavily on the "critic". But, I see this changing with more and more influence toward a cellartracker like audience over the years. Maybe with your site growing larger, and maybe with others popping up as well. One day people won't have to think about paying for a review they can trust...
quote:
Originally posted by Eric LeVine:
Ed, fortunately wine is a lot less political topic than Nobel prizes.

Palm Beach Gardens? That is where my Mom lives in the wintertime, at Ballen Isles.


Live in PGA National, just across the turnpike. Our office is in shopping center here at turnpike entrance.
Good points above, and I welcome and appreciate the well-stated arguments, but I have some counter-arguments as well. Smile

quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
I don't know Stickman - Lurton?? He was hired to manage an estate and did so. But isn't that what he was paid for? How does that make him a significant figure in the wine business any more than any other successful manager? Same with Frescobaldi.


Granted, neither one introduced some new innovation that set the wine world on its ear, but to merely say that they simply did what they were paid to do doesn't recognize that both took already wildly successful houses and made them even more successful. I don't believe it's that easy. If you compare the buzz about Yquem in the '90s to what it is now, the difference is remarkable. Ornellaia and Luce could have gone down with the demise of the Mondavi empire; instead, Luce has grown to include a BdM estate with some early success, and Ornellaia may have just produced their greatest wine ever (2006). Think it's easy? Compare that to... well, the Mondavi empire.

quote:

Mondavi's achievements pre-dated this decade, as did the others in #5. All worthies, but their reputations are based on prior achievements.


Granted on all counts. I merely wanted to acknowledge their passing and to recognize the wine world's loss.

quote:

Gary V came out of nowwhere really. He was a regular retailer who is now a world-wide phenom. I've met people all over the world who know him.


Fame and influence are not the same. Anna Nicole Smith was widely famous when she died, but would anyone call her the "Model of the Decade," or any other title that could be granted to her. [more below]

quote:
You don't have to love the schtick to respect what he's done - he's the first credible critic outside of print for starters.


Okay. I'm not sold, but I get your point.

quote:

Is there any other critic on TV, radio, or anywhere who has his reach? He pushed WL into e-commerce faster and farther than any other retailer, he revolutionized wine selling in the US, and he's replaced, or symbolizes the replacement of, print critics.


Alright, this is where I have to call 'BS.' Replaced WS, Parker, or Steve Tanzer? Really? Is anyone out there really saying, "Well, Parker only gave this 91 points, but Gary V really liked it, so I'll buy a case of this $200 Burgundy"? Do you think winemakers are changing their techniques based on whether they think they'll get a positive review on Wine Library TV? Or even, "I used to subscribe to the International Wine Cellar, but now I've got Wine Library TV, so I cancelled my subscription"?

When the guy goes on TV with Conan O'Brien and does a schtick where he talks about training your palate by eating a cigar or sticking a dirty sock in your mouth, do you really think people are thinking, "Now here's a critic I can place my trust in"? He's definitely a 'wine personality,' and many people find him entertaining, but if this is the face of wine in the past decade, I say it's not much more than a parody.

quote:
Eric Levine has also done that to a large extent. People go to their cellars, check CT for current drinking reports, and select a wine based on that. It's something that was never possible before he created CT.


Granted. This, however, seems more like "Technology Person of the Decade," rather than someone who epitomizes wine for the decade. Its an effective, widely-used tool, but it hasn't changed anything intrinsic to wine itself.

quote:
Rhone Rangers are close to my heart because I like those wines, but I don't think they were all that important to the wine industry in Italy or Greece. They grow grenache in CA. That's nice, but how does it get them recognition as some of the most important people of the decade?


Is there any example around the world where one region can have a dominant effect world-wide? Probably not. That being said, CA is a major region in the wine world, and the fact that planting of Rhone varietals has so drastically increased in the past decade is more than just 'nice.' If a new producer in the Maremma (just about the only other place in the world where new plantings can rival new Rhones in CA) had emerged with the success of Sine Qua Non, I'd nominate them too. Since no one has, I'd say the Rhone Rangers' influence on the CA wine industry (and Manfred Krankl's influence on the Rhone Rangers) gets my nod as the most influential.

quote:
Originally posted by vinole:
Stickman - Your #1 criteria was "influence", which I agree with. By that criteria, Paul Giamatti's character (not the man himself) has had MUCH more influence on the wine market in the US this decade than your top pick, Manfred Krankl... how many now pick up a bottle of pinot noir at the grocery store instead of merlot as it is now perceived as a much "cooler" wine? Thank Sideways for that whether you like it or not.


If you're citing the character of Miles Raymond, nominate Miles, or better yet author Rex Pickett, not an actor. Did anyone nominate Sylvester Stallone for the "Boxer of the 1970s" for his creation of Rocky?

quote:
Think about it, how many typical US wine consumers have even HEARD of SQN, much less tried it (as many on this board have not, including me).


Whether you've actually tasted SQN or not, Krankl and his wines have had a strong effect on other producers, critics, and the popularity of Rhone varietals in general. 'Think that the fact that there's a Syrah in the Cult henhouse isn't significant? Like Cambie (or Michel Rolland), his influence on the wine world doesn't begin and end with his at large fame.

For my part, I have no problem with Eric Levine inviting me (as a CT user) to vote for him. He's certainly as deserving as the others on the list, and a little self-promotion is not a crime in lists like this, IMHO.

In the end, this poll may show that no one has (or even perhaps can have) such a dominant role in a world as complex and individualized as 'the wine world' to warrant being called "Wine Person of the Year." I can accept that. I just can't accept the person that most epitomizes wine isn't a person at all but a fictitious character in a movie or an internet critic who (I believe) isn't as influential as at least three other periodicals.
Well, it's just a wine blog. The nomination process was open for a few days. If you followed the blog or got a heads up (I did via facebook) you could've participated.

I don't really have a problem with anyone who was nominated. Obviously, some of those choices didn't get much support from the voters, but that's how democracy works... And though there certainly are others worthy of nomination, I don't think any of them would've been a contender. (If you don't agree, start a nomination thread here.)

Gary V deserves nomination, but I think his fans over-rate his influence. He utilized a technology others developed and uses it to market his retail business. He created a niche where he has big fans, and also repulses a lot of people. Is he really any better at marketing than Kermit Lynch? How do his sales compare to K&L? I don't know, but I'd bet K&L's innovation they put into their website had a bigger influence on their sales than Gary's vlogs have had on his.

When thinking of who to nominate, I was trying to think of a winemaker responsible for a stylistic movement we are beginning to see, but couldn't really put that on one person.

I think CellarTracker is creating a paradigm shift, and we are only beginning to see its impact. CT effects sales. I think it will help winemakers align their winemaking styles more with the market and away from certain critics.
quote:
Originally posted by yhn:

I think CellarTracker is creating a paradigm shift, and we are only beginning to see its impact. CT effects sales. I think it will help winemakers align their winemaking styles more with the market and away from certain critics.


Obviously directed at RMP. Have seen this comment in many dufferent formats, articles etc. Even same comment listed in Janis Robinson Vol # 3 re the bio on RMP. She alludes to item that wine maker don't use creativity as they should, but try to keep him happy. Much of Bord is the same.

My vote would be for the unsung heros that are small producers that push the envelope on technology and blends.
quote:
Originally posted by Eric LeVine:

And fair warning, in the next day or two (tonight if I can break away from my coding) I am going to release my end of year retrospective and a video-demo of the new site with a brief intro from me ...
Demo was great Eric. I love the way the new “add a wine/purchase” function works. That will be the biggest time saver.
quote:
Originally posted by Ed Bowers [FWS]:
quote:
Originally posted by yhn:

I think CellarTracker is creating a paradigm shift, and we are only beginning to see its impact. CT effects sales. I think it will help winemakers align their winemaking styles more with the market and away from certain critics.


Obviously directed at RMP. Have seen this comment in many dufferent formats, articles etc. Even same comment listed in Janis Robinson Vol # 3 re the bio on RMP. She alludes to item that wine maker don't use creativity as they should, but try to keep him happy. Much of Bord is the same.


Well, alluding to both Parker and Laube. But really, I can't fault anyone for liking what they like. But, it's really the winmakers who are being cynical in their winemaking.
quote:
Originally posted by yhn:
I think CellarTracker is creating a paradigm shift, and we are only beginning to see its impact. CT effects sales. I think it will help winemakers align their winemaking styles more with the market and away from certain critics.


It will be interesting to see what happens. I wonder how many people read the magazines versus use CT though.
quote:
Originally posted by spo:
quote:
Originally posted by yhn:
I think CellarTracker is creating a paradigm shift, and we are only beginning to see its impact. CT effects sales. I think it will help winemakers align their winemaking styles more with the market and away from certain critics.


It will be interesting to see what happens. I wonder how many people read the magazines versus use CT though.


(Sorry, don't subscribe or remember exactly, but) I saw subscription numbers a while back for WA and it seemed shockingly low. Anyone know it offhand? Anyway, it's clear that indirect influence, such as shelf talkers and other quoting of the reviews, has a much bigger impact on the market than the direct influence to subscribers.

I wonder how many non-registered users check CT scores. Take this with a grain of salt, but I've heard about 90% of the traffic on these wine forums is non-registered guests. (Right now, 175 of the 184 recent visitors are guests. That's 95%.) CT is also quoted places like winebid.
quote:
(Sorry, don't subscribe or remember exactly, but) I saw subscription numbers a while back for WA and it seemed shockingly low. Anyone know it offhand? Anyway, it's clear that indirect influence, such as shelf talkers and other quoting of the reviews, has a much bigger impact on the market than the direct influence to subscribers.


Many magazines have an annual audit that is required as to sold copies, freebies, etc. But as WA does not sell ads, think this is not publicly avaialble.

"Today, The bi-monthly Wine Advocate has over 50.000 subscribers from all over the world. Experts agree that The Wine Advocate has a significant impact on wine consumer’s purchasing habits, including but not limited to the United States." source of data

Now that WA is on-line and along with print edition, wonder how this is treated. If you have both, will you be counted twice? I see RMP thanked his merry minions for subscribing as a short statement on the last page. A frind showed it too me as I don't waste my money on reading Dr. Jay.

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