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Wineries embrace social media but how well? 

In case you haven't noticed, the whole world is high on social media marketing. It's so pervasive, it's no longer cool really. I liked it better when "status update" and "tweet" were a foreign language uttered only by those "in the know." These tools, however, are incredibly useful, so their propagation isn't particularly shocking. And wineries, blissfully nestled in their outdated marketing efforts, made a slow jump onto this fast-moving bandwagon late in the game. But now they're riding it like a redneck carnival ride. Not always successfully.

Many don't seem to "get" the social media gig, especially Twitter. They tweet blatant promotional material like this one from @MummNapaWinery: "tiny bubbles....in a case... Don't forget! 187 ml bottles make great party favors. Perfect for romantic picnics in front of the fire too!" Really? ... could they be more self-whoring? Thoughtful authenticity entices people to follow you, not commercialism.

Smart and nimble startup-like wineries capitalize on the freeness of Facebook and Twitter. @HawkesWinery, a boutique cabernet-centric producer in Sonoma Valley, did a great job tweeting and twitpic-ing during harvest, and you felt their pain. My favorite was "Rain, rain, go to hell..." at the height of grape-gathering when excessive moisture waters down the juice and creates a flavorless grog. Hawkes has 1,643 followers but merits more since their tribulations educate and entertain simultaneously. No Facebook page though. Hmm.

@RandallGrahm, from biodynamic Bonny Doon Winery in Santa Cruz, is a fascinating, eccentric industry leader. He's always been ahead of the curve, on the cutting edge and in the trenches, but he's anything but a cliché. No tweeting of standard, everyday wine drivel, he weaves personality into his 140 characters, from coffee addiction to making buckwheat pancakes for his kid. He's got the intriguing tweet thing down. 214,800 followers and counting. But Facebook is at 149 friends. You're slackin' there, Randall.

Clif Family Winery and Farm (@clifwine, whose product I adore) has a nice groove on, speckling recipes in with subtle pitches and mundane daily activity report. They're very active on Facebook, with close to 700 friends. Quivira (@quivirawinery) in Sonoma almost went overkill with their blow-by-blow on each grape varietal trucked through the winery doors. Still interesting information though.

But I must admit, the Mack daddy of social media is Murphy Goode (@areallygoodejob). Some of you may have tracked my attempt at winery stardom during their wine country correspondent contest. They single-handedly -- with an expensive and time-consuming (yet very successful) marketing campaign -- introduced an entire industry to the joys of Facebook'ing and Twitterdom. Hardy Wallace, who landed the sweet job, does a phenomenal job spreading the word, and shares his insights and contagious passion everyday.

They could all learn a thing or two from him.

Sip It

Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, Washington This is a project that Randall Grahm consults on and the quality reflects his hand. The label says "dry" but it's not really dry. That doesn't mean it's not super yummy. Pineapple, red apple and a slight whiff of "petrol" or diesel. Give into your inner sweet cravings with this affordable little gem. Sw=4. $11. 4 stars.

Splurge With It

Faiveley 2007 Mercurey "Clos des Myglands" I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Erwan Faiveley, the president of stunning Burgundy producer, Faiveley. They've been crafting wines for 184 years, plenty of time to perfect. But Erwan has found a way to make it better (read more about their strategy on my Web site, tayloreason.com). His recent efforts are reflected in this elegant pinot noir. It's fresh and pretty, with bright red cherry, soft tannins, mild acidity and a dried cherry finish. Simply gorgeous and worth every penny. Sw=1.$34. 4.5 stars

Sweetness (Sw) rating: 1-10. Star rating: 1-5. Reach Taylor at taylor@tayloreason.com, on Twitter @tayloreason, on Facebook and on her website, tayloreason.com.

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