Wine of the Month Club delivers
more than just bottles, as it relies
on video to get its message out.
by Jon Orlin
How many people does it take to produce, shoot, edit, and host a multicamera, professional-looking vid- eo series? Just one, if you are Paul Kalemkiarian.
His day job is owner of the Wine of the Month Club. But
this self-taught producer has made video an important
part of his business. Working mostly on his own, since
2006 he has made nearly 700 videos tasting wine, inter-
viewing winemakers, and pulling a few pranks.
Founded in 1972, the monthly mail-order wine busi-
ness is the oldest club of its kind in America. But that his-
tory only gets it so far. The business now relies on video,
Facebook, and Twitter to keep growing. Kalemkiarian
says, “I don’t think that I would be here, frankly, if I
didn’t have all three of those elements working for us.”
Kalemkiarian tastes 300 bottles of wine a month
and personally decides what to ship in his four club
packages. Each month, he ships tens of thousands of
bottles of wine. For each shipment, he shoots a video
with his co-host Ed Masciana tasting each of the bottles his customers will be getting.
A Production Setup Built for Speed
Once a week, he holds a tasting where winemakers
book appointments to show off their samples. Kalem-
kiarian brings some of these winemakers into his studio
to record these tastings. His video workflow is designed
for speed and efficiency. Working all by himself, he takes
about 5 minutes to set up, and then he’s rolling.
At first, Kalemkiarian made audio-only podcasts
because the existing video technology took too long.
He didn’t like the real-time transfer of tape-based
cameras. When JVC came out with a camera that let
him transfer digital files with a point-and-click, he
started doing single-camera videos.
His Los Angeles-based studio in his warehouse and
office now includes a Canon 5D and 7D mounted on
VariZoom tripods. He’s also experimenting with a Go-
Pro to get unusual angles. He locks down the cameras,
with a wider shot on the 5D and the 7D shooting the
guests or a shot of the wines being poured on the set
counter. He starts the cameras himself and heads to
the set to start the wine tastings and interviews.
Most of his segments are less than 10 minutes long, so
he doesn’t have to worry about the cameras stopping.
But he’s adding a digital clock to the wall just in case he
needs to stop and restart the cameras during a taping.
No one is watching the audio levels or the camera
framing during the taping. But, Kalemkiarian knows
where he needs to stand for the wide shot to stay in
frame. And he knows where the bottles need to be