Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Behind the Scenes at The Lip TV’s “The Wine Down”

After visiting Malibu Family Wines I headed over to The Lip TV’s recording studio in Beverly Hills to get a “behind the scenes” look at my favorite on-line wine program - The Wine Down.

When Gary Vaynerchuk stopped producing Wine Library TV and then suddenly, without notice, ended The Daily Grape I found myself searching for something on-line to fill the gap. After viewing numerous wine programs and amateur attempts to replicate Gary’s shtick, I was discovered The Wine Down.

The Wine Down is a long-format program (about an hour) that is geared towards the geeky wine enthusiast or those who are in the wine business. But this isn’t a boring talking-head show, it wonderfully provides what I call “Infotainment” (Information + Entertainment) with lively (and sometimes hotly debated) discussions on subjects related to the wine world, adult beverages and culinary delights.

The Wine Down is hosted by Sonja Magdevski and Brandon Barlett and produced by Michael Lustig. Sonja and Brandon make an excellent Abbot and Costello type duo who provide a lot humor and friendly jabbing to the show. So, that while program is very informative they never take themselves or their enthusiasm for wine (and other festive beverages) too serious.

Sonja is a journalist (http://malibugrange.com/), suburban farmer and the winemaker for Casa Dumetz Wines (www.casadumetzwines.com).

Brandon Barlett is the Senior Sales / Channel Manager at Beam and is a registered Sommelier with The Court of Master Sommeliers. 

Unfortunately Brandon was “ill” on the day of my visit. In his place was guest co-host Tim Skogstrom and owner of Cornell Winery and Tasting Room in Cornell (http://www.cornellwinery.com/).

The program is presented live and unscripted “on air” on The Lip TV web site and then it is available for repeat viewing on third party sites such as Vimeo, YouTube and for download on iTunes.

Notable guests on the Wine Down have included Neil Collins (the owner and winemaker of Lone Madronne and the winemaker for Tablas Creek in Paso Robles), Richard Sanford, (Original founder of Sanford Winery and founder and proprietor of Alma Rosa Winery) and Rex Picket, author of Sideways that was made into the now infamous movies and the books sequel, Vertical

 Keith Saarloos and Bill Hirsh

If you want to see a really heated and hilarious debate, check out Episode 27 (my favorite so far) as Bill Hirsh (who runs winemaking and sales efforts at Cielo Farms, a Malibu based wine company) and Keith Saarloos (Saarloos and Sons Winery) fire back and forth on the importance and role of branding (http://thelip.tv/the-power-of-branding-with-keith-saarloos-and-bill-hirsh/).

While I was visiting the set, the Lip TV aired and recorded episode 32 of The Wine Down with special guest Alex Guarachi from Santiago, Chile. Alex is credited with introducing Chilean wines to America in 1985 and is the founder of TGIC Importers, Inc. What began as a one-man show operating out of Alex’s dimly lit garage has grown into a multi-million dollar company boasting a portfolio of some of the finest wines from not only Chile, but also Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and California. TGIC (Thank God It’s Chilean) celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010 and to commemorate this milestone, Alex introduced Guarachi Family Wines. Along with the help of Paul Hobbs as the winemaker, Guarachi Family Wines’ Pinot Noir has been awarded 94 points and the Cabernet Sauvignon 92 points by the by Wine Spectator made from vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties. You can check out the fascinating interview with Alex Guarachi in the following video:

You can also view the program on The Wine Down web site:

If you are a wine enthusiast or looking to become one, work in the wine business or with other adult beverages, want a better understanding the wine industry or you just a fun and informative wine program that you won’t find on commercial scripted television, then I highly recommend tuning in to The Wine Down.

To view other episodes of The Wine Down, check out the following link and be sure to let them know you heard about them on California Wine Tasting Adventures: