Visiting New York is special – my recent trip was certainly unforgettable for me. Thanks to social networks, many U.S. contacts welcomed me online, and I received best wishes from my European connections. Arriving at my hotel on a Friday afternoon and reading all the messages on twitter and Facebook was a very touching experience.
On Saturday night, I finally met in real life with two wonderful ladies who have been amongst my favourite twitter contacts for quite some time. Viviane Bauquet Farre and Meg Houston Maker – with their respective husbands Marc and Steve – went out of their way to present me with a truly memorable night. Great people, exciting conversations, superb wines (a great selection of Bonny Doon Vineyard wines) and a stunning menu prepared by Viviane made my day – there simply could not have been a better way to start my U.S. adventure!
The next morning, I boarded the Greyhound bus and made my way to Philadelphia – coming from Greece, I was in awe by the fact that there was free WIFI service available throughout the journey. What a great service, instead of a boring 2½-hour trip I was able to work efficiently. I met Mark Squires and some of his friends for a lengthy lunch, and thanks to their generosity we tasted a solid number of wines, including several Greek offerings.
Monday was to be a big day – I was due to appear as a guest on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV show. For those who do not know who Gary is, this article/interview by Mario Schulzke from Idea Mensch is a great source of information. Kristen Murphy, who is one of the nicest people I have ever met, welcomed me at the offices. She is one of those people where conversation is just flowing naturally. After touring the premises, I took a seat in the kitchen, waiting for Gary’s arrival. After a couple of minutes, his dad actually walked in – I only knew him from his own guest appearances on the show. It was a totally unreal moment; it reminded me of how I first met Goofy at Disney World, not knowing if he was for real or not.
Just after 1 p.m. Gary entered the offices – I was still in the kitchen, but suddenly there was a burst of activity. Within seconds, he must have checked updates with at least 5 different employees. Kristen walked me into his office, where Chris Mott, who shoots nearly all of the episodes, was already waiting. Gary still had to finish another meeting, so Chris and I chatted for half an hour. He is a real nice guy, and I was very happy for the chance to learn a little more about him. Around 1:45 p.m. Gary rushed in and sat down next to me. There was this moment that lasted for just a few seconds where Gary was nearly Buddha-like, very calm, softly spoken, he looked straight into my eyes, greeted me, then received a hand signal form Chris and the next second he literally exploded with energy. “Hello everybody and welcome to Wine Library TV. I am your host …” – I have heard this famous line so often, but really had no idea just how loud he shouts it! At that very moment, it hit me that this was for real, and I could feel nervousness creeping up. Luckily this feeling did not last long, and excitement quickly took over.
I was shockingly impressed with Gary’s tasting abilities. I brought the wines directly from Greece, and no one knew what they were. There was no way that Gary could have prepared beforehand. I believe many people underestimate this skill, usually we read what a great showman he is, or how he is using unusual vocabulary to describe wines. Rarely is it pointed out that he is an extremely talented taster – but he most certainly is, you can’t make comments like his just up.
The show was put online the same evening, and I was busy throughout the night answering comments and messages. The “thundershow” was such a great way to raise people’s awareness about Greek wines, I am really grateful for this opportunity! Thank you so much Gary, it meant the world to me!
On my last evening in NY, I organised a meeting of fellow wine enthusiasts via twitter. We met at the highly recommended Terroir Wine Bar in Tribeca. Thanks so much Sarah, Melissa, Konstantine, Viviane and Marc for making the effort to meet me there. It was a great pleasure to spent time with all of you.