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It’s here: 2010.

Will the dawning of a new decade bring with it new techniques for marketing wine? No doubt.

However, it did not require the passage of another year for tech-savvy winemakers and wineries’ national sales managers to jump on the train known as social media.

Many of them I know have long used Facebook, Web sites and electronic newsletters to sell wine online. Along the way, these marketing gurus have befriended hundreds of ordinary people, collecting customers with each passing day.

Let’s take a look at a consumer — for example, me. In addition to being a student of viticulture and enology, manager of a small vineyard and a journalist who specializes in wine, I also buy wine — both at retail and discounted rates (club member, bulk and occasionally wholesale).

The economy limits my membership in a wine club to just one, Longoria.

Within the past year or so, Rick and Diana Longoria opted to save paper and printing costs by staying in touch with club members solely via e-newsletters. These continue to provide members with news about events, upcoming club shipments and general information about the winery and staff.

As someone who regularly spends several hours parked in front of a computer each and every day, I stay very current with Longoria Wines, thanks to the owners’ “e-efforts.”

Longoria club membership entitles me to a

15 percent discount on all wine purchases and 20 percent off a case or more. I recently split a case of Longoria wine with three couples, all residents of Santa Barbara who, while they like wine, don’t often visit the Santa Ynez Valley to taste it. Over the years, however, I’ve introduced them to Longoria Wines, and via my member discount, we all save.

My point: One club member is likely to buy more wine when friends help bear the cost. It’s a win-win situation for the winery and the consumers. And face it: As more and more Americans buy online, the number of consumers looking for good deals on good wine will increase.

Taking online sales efforts further are winemakers such as Mark Cargasacchi, Dave and Becky Corey, Wes and Chanda Hagen and Larry Schaffer, to name just a few. All have Facebook accounts for their winemaking endeavors: Jalama Vineyard, Core Wine Company Tasting Room and Core Wine Company, Clos Pepe and Tercero Wines, respectively.

In addition, wineries such as Costa de Oro, Curtis, Foxen, Qupe/Verdad Wines and Riverbench have Facebook accounts. So do Tastes of the Valleys and Wandering Dog Wine Bar, both in Solvang, and the Santa Maria Valley Wine Country and Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association, two organizations that promote our region’s wines.

All of these winemakers and wineries have discovered the benefits of marketing through social media. Many are adept at instigating commentary among Facebook’s friends, fans and casual readers who stumble across their pages.

On Dec. 28, Dave Corey wrote a post on his personal page, which included the following: “(Wine marketing) is all about relationships with consumers and accounts and social networking.”

That post triggered about 15 comments, most of them also in favor of what is often called “guerrilla marketing.” It’s free, social and, within mere seconds, can reach readers worldwide.

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In a subsequent Facebook comment, Corey noted that while “some people don’t like retail promotion here, too many (others) enjoy it and they speak loudest.” Bingo.

This just in: Because I had my own Facebook page open while writing this, the following post by Wes Hagen just popped into view. He writes:

“I am stoked to announce our 2007 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir ‘Vigneron Select’ was awarded the honor of being one of ten ‘Pinot Noir All-Americans’ for 2009: Top ten out of the whole New World Pinot Noir scene ain’t bad at all!!!”

Congratulations to Wes and Chanda Hagen, Steve and Catherine Pepe and everyone else at Clos Pepe. And this is also a stellar example of the reach of social media — “live” from Hagen’s own Facebook page to mine, direct to the “Wine Country” readers of this newspaper.

Furthermore, to follow the trail from Hagen’s honor back to its source, I Googled “Pinot noir all-Americans,” and was directed to, the 2009 California Pinot Noir All-Americans: The PinotFile.

There I learned that Paul Lato’s 2007 “Suerte” Solomon Hills Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir also made the “first team” of winners. Congrats to Lato, as well. His and the Clos Pepe pinot were the only two from Santa Barbara County to make the top of the list, according to the Web site.

The topic of marketing wine via social media is one I will revisit time after time in this column. Got comments? E-mail me at winecountry And who knows? Perhaps you’ll soon see “Wine Country” on Facebook in the future. Have computer, will work for wine.

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