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Virtual Vineyards, Merrill Lynch OnLine Ally

Wine merchant Virtual Vineyards joined with Merrill Lynch and Co. in a marketing agreement that provides Merrill Lynch OnLine subscribers with a direct link to the Virtual Vineyards site.

The agreement also provides for special loyalty and incentive offers to Merrill Lynch OnLine subscribers.

The agreement with Virtual Vineyards is part of the introduction of electronic commerce to Merrill Lynch OnLine. Financial arrangements were not disclosed.

"We are glad to have the opportunity to offer Merrill Lynch clients the highest quality selection and information when they shop for wine and specialty foods," said Robert Olsen, Virtual Vineyards' co-founder. "We are always careful to select credible, quality partners such as Travelocity and Amazon.com, and are now pleased to be working with Merrill Lynch."

Merrill Lynch OnLine subscribers can now access the site and click through to Virtual Vineyards in order to make wine and specialty food purchases in a secure environment. First-time visitors to the site from Merrill Lynch receive a $10 electronic coupon from Virtual Vineyards that can be redeemed with the first purchase.

Additionally, subscribers who opt to use the Merrill Lynch CM Visa Signature card to pay for their eCommerce purchases are rewarded with bonus Signature points. Merrill Lynch OnLine clients can also view the entire CMA Visa Signature Rewards program catalog online, check their rewards program point balances and redeem points online.

Merrill Lynch OnLine provides enrolled clients with a 24-hour connection to the firm for account information, funds transfer, quotes, trades and securities research reports financial institutions.