Remember the Where’s Waldo books? A modern classic series back in the Age of Print. Big hardcovers that opened to panoramic cartoons of countless people in quirky settings engaged in practically every possible human behavior except fornication. And somewhere on every spread stood Waldo, hiding in plain sight: round-frame glasses, goofy-cool striped hat, smile. The idea of the book was simple and sweet: find Waldo. Ah, good times.

And now, an updated, wined-up version: Where’s Hardy?

Yes, Hardy Wallace. He of that Very Goode Job. He now of Healdsburg. He who rose American-Idol-like from a mass of vinous videos to emerge as the Social Media One. He of the smiling mug emblazoned above Times Square.

Alas, where is Hardy now? Has the enormity of the Internet reduced him to virtual Waldo status—just one smiling, skinny-specs avatar among googols of cyberpeeps He started when, August 15? Sure, he had to relocate from Atlanta, but come on—that’s a month ago. Where is the resounding social-media quake from Hardy clanging together his cymbal-ic followings on Twitter and Facebook?

Let’s start with some definite places Hardy is NOT. He is not playing tennis with Serena Williams, sharing a microphone with Kanye West or lying with Joe Wilson. Nor, as far a we know, has he changed last name to Wallacé, to rhyme with Beyoncé (though we would not be surprised to learn that Rick Bakas, one of Hardy’s former co-candidates for the Murphy-Goode gig, is now answering to “Bacchus” in his parallel role at St. Supéry).

On the other hand, Las Vegas is a possibility. Perhaps Hardy is still in the research phase of the “jobbe,” trawling casinos in a mission to understand the roots of Murphy-Goode’s gambling-themed labels—Snake Eyes, All In, Liar’s Dice, Wild Card—and he never stopped playing. Or, when visiting every cranny of the Murphy-Goode operation—from vineyards to winery to offices—maybe Hardy got dragged into an endless debate over whether the hyphen in Murphy-Goode gets pronounced.

Is he plotting something ginormous…the Murphy-Even-Gooder Energy Drink? Or has he been tied to a chair for weeks while lawyers go over every-little-thing he can’t do as a “spokesperson” for a product that contains alcohol.

Speaking of sitting, maybe Hardy sitting cross-legged and yogi-like atop a peak in Alexander Valley, waiting for a bolt of inspiration before firing up his laptop with its two-hour battery. Or he is down valley, whispering inspiration in the ears of Rachel Alexandra, Jess Jackson’s racehorse….

Aha—that’s it: Hardy was going deep undercover for a few weeks to make sure he did not earn a “nomination” for the Wine Enthusiast “Wine Star” Awards and have to commit to purchasing multiple pricey seats at the NYC gala on Monday night in January. Mission accomplished. Hardy was passed over for “Lifestyle Correspondent of the Year.” However, he (and Rachel Alexandra) may still be in the running for the “To be announced!” Lifetime Achievement Award, considering the number of times Jackson Family Estates brands have brought home “Starfish” hardware.

Here at the Skewer, we were starting to get concerned about Hardy’s whereabouts, not in the least because weeks ago {before he become “Oh, That Hardy”}, the young man from Atlanta pledged to serve in some capacity on Palate Press. Next thing we knew, the gig was Hardy’s, but he grew quieter than the major league baseball pennant races!

Today, however, we are proud to announce that we have a bead on the Hardster. A veritable sighting, or at least a delightful “hearing.” Hardy, fellow Palate Presser David Honig and I taped a spot last evening with Randy and Kaz for, set to air Friday (Sept. 18)  from 4:00-5:00 Pacific time on KSYV 91.3 Sonoma. You can also catch it at the KSYV site or at winebizradio, where I believe it can be downloaded as a podcast/iTune or simply taken intravenously.

Hardy was/is/will be in fine fettle during the spot, having just finished “settling in” to his M-G stint and cranking up his own dedicated blog. The guy has infectious optimism, plus he really does know his wine. I am not giving away anything by telling you Hardy has big things in store, starting with a mustache with meaning far beyond its motley gestalt of whiskers. (Apparently the mustache has even been noticed by Healdsburg locals, when they get up real close.)

So check out  winebizradio Friday night (or later, if it conflicts with your brisket). You’ll also hear some more of our thoughts on Palate Press, plus a surreal firsthand traffic report from the inimitable Kaz (two days old by airtime) and Randy’s unorthodox but very natural idea for wine storage.

* * * * *

In other pluggish news, I got some ink in the Chicago Tribune this week, serving as one of three wine-food pros asked to tame so-called “winekillers” like artichokes, asparagus and vinegar. Check it out, slideshow-style!

The highly respected trade magazine Wines & Vines ran a nice article on Palate Press.

And in coming months, I will be teaching a few very fun recreational wine classes at Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan:
Wines by Style, Saturday 10/9/2009, 7:00-9:00 pm
Austrian & German Wines, Saturday 11/7/2009, 7:00-9:00 pm
Catch the TrendiestWines, Saturday 12/5/2009, 7:00-9:00 pm