Meet the WineWeirdos

This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.

mike wineweirdos at youngberg hill

Everyone is a wine critic, or at least everyone has an opinion about wine. With all of the thousands of wine producers, grape varieties and wine regions around the world, it helps to be able to turn to a source to help guide us.

Some people like the professional wine critic who scores wines. But sometimes a number does not tell us enough. Descriptions, anecdotes and insights can be a better way to understand a wine and help us connect with what we may like.

Meet the WineWeirdos.

The WineWeirdos is a YouTube channel started by Michael Landucci, along with his fellow Weirdos Christopher, Brandon and Curtis. Wine Weirdos is a source for entertaining wine reviews. The WineWeirdos do not pretend to be wine experts. They are wine enthusiasts who offer concise and entertaining wine reviews.

Landucci is a professional poker player who started getting into drinking fine wines in 2002. During a dinner in Las Vegas, Landucci said, “I was somehow deemed the person to order the wine and picked a Shafer Hillside Select, and I was hooked.”

He started learning what he could, watching videos of Jancis Robinson and Gary Vaynerchuck, reading “The Wine Bible” and Wine Spectator and attending wine tastings. A self-taught wine geek, Landucci recently received a Level One certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

After almost a decade of drinking wine, and spending a lot of money on his hobby, Landucci said he thought, “Wow, if we start shooting videos and posting them on YouTube, I wonder if we could get free wine.”

Landucci quickly found out that they could get plenty of free wine but the quality varied and a lot of it was not very good. This was not wine they wanted to drink or review; they wanted to do justice to the great wine they were receiving and drinking.

After a couple of years of doing videos, the WineWeirdos looked at their analytics and decided to make a few changes. They cut the length of the videos to between one and three minutes each by removing any unnecessary banter or time wasters such as pouring wine on camera.

They also stopped posting negative reviews. They focused instead on offering reviews of wines people should check out, not the wines they should avoid. In addition to wine samples they received, the WineWeirdos also started to integrate bottles from their own cellars, such as Champagne and aged Burgundy.

 “Those are the videos I would want to watch and that is what I like to drink,” Landucci said. “Plus, I want the variety. And, I like the element of surprise. You never know what you will find on our YouTube channel.”

WineWeirdos avoid doing stodgy overly-technical notes that only industry people will understand. They do not pretend to be experts. They are more focused on pleasing the consumer and giving them solid information about wines they may be interested in adding to their cellars. And video is an effective method to reach a wider audience who can passively absorb information presented in a short video.

“A short video can easily go into depth the way an excellent blog post or article can. A wine tasting video can so effectively entice viewers to purchase wine based on short fun bursts of information,” Landucci explained.

The WineWeirdos have started doing winemaker interviews this year, including Ross Cobb of Cobb Wines, David Munksgard from Iron Horse Vineyards and Dan Schaaf of Deux Punx.

And the wineries are loving the videos. In a testimonial to the WineWeirdos, Dan Schaaf of Deux Punx said, “Having our wines reviewed on WineWeirdos has been highly successful. Not only do they review and analyze our wines far better than we could, their praise carries much more weight than our own tasting notes. What we like most about them is that they get what we are doing and they seem to honestly love our wines. Linking to reviews on our social media sites has led directly to sales; and as punk as we think we are…we like sales.”

When the WineWeirdos are not shooting videos of samples they have received, they get together at least once a month and taste. Landucci said, “We feel that it is important, for instance, to have tasted through dozens of wines from Burgundy before we compare an Oregon pinot to Burgundy. Or we need to be familiar with how syrah varies from Australia to the Rhone versus Central Coast. While we are getting gradually nerdier, we do not want to come off too technically savvy or long-winded.”

Some recent wines that have impressed Landucci recently are two wineries from San Diego County, where he calls home. Espinosa Vineyards and Los Pilares, he said, have shown him that San Diego vines can create expressive, terroir-driven wine when in the right hands.

Landucci also loves the new Mendoza Argentina project Seed Wine, which focuses on a premium and limited malbec and cabernet blend in which proceeds from each bottle goes to purchase a textbook for a local child.

With so many wines out there, it is nice to know the WineWeirdos are here to help us learn in a fun, casual way. And, in addition to a YouTube channel, the WineWeirdos are active on Twitter, with 50,000-plus followers, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, Reddit, Vine and Delectable.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.