April 2020

President’s Message

As we all struggle during these difficult times to maintain a sense of normalcy, it is difficult to know what to say. It is my hope that you and your families are doing well and staying connected. Cisco’s WebEx, Zoom, and FaceTime are now part of everyone’s experience.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the OCWS staff, Directors, Event Chairs, and Committees who work diligently to keep our organization going. The commitment and dedication to this organization is truly inspiring. The challenges we have faced in these past weeks have been met and the best outcomes possible have been achieved. As an organization, we are determined to come back with renewed enthusiasm when we return to our event schedules.

Phone calls to wineries and wine judges have conveyed how important our organization is to the California wine industry. A frequent comment from them is that they “love” our organization and all we do to support them. I have received numerous emails and notices from wineries, many that are among my favorites, letting me know they are still open for business through online sales. In fact, many wineries are currently offering discounts and offers of free or reduced shipping.

If you are able to visit your favorite wineries online and support them by purchasing wine, the wineries would appreciate it, and I am sure everyone could use some additional wine right now!  Not every winery has the ability to distribute their wines on a large scale and sales “out the door” are vital to their survival.

The OCWS winecompetition.com web address can provide not only the winery name, but has each winery website linked to their listing. This is a good way to support the wineries that support our Commercial Wine Competition.

At the virtual April BOD meeting, the Board unanimously approved a 4-month extension of membership terms, and also committed to working on ways to keep our members connected and to provide innovative activities for our members. Please stay tuned as these concepts develop.

Please remember to stay safe, drink some really good wine from your cellar, and wash your hands!


Bill Redding, President

Mini-Tasting: Rhône Wines

The Rhone Mini-Tasting event scheduled for Saturday, May 2, is officially cancelled, and we are working on processing refunds for those members that had already signed up.

We are exploring ideas for Mini-Tastings that might be possible once we are able to hold at least small events. Please look for updates in future newsletters. Stay safe.

– George Cravens, Director

Membership: Important Notice to All OCWS Members

The OCWS Board of Directors hopes this message finds you in good health, in good spirits and secure during this unprecedented time in our lives. We appreciate your support as we navigate the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak and its effect on our operations.

All OCWS events in the recent months and in the months ahead have been cancelled due to the California Governor’s “stay-at-home” order. We will resume our events when they can be held in a safe environment for our members and in accordance with local, state and federal directives and guidelines. Our top priority remains the well-being and safety of all our members.

Since all OCWS events have been suspended, the Board has approved extending every member’s expiration date by four months. If you have already paid your dues, we are sorry but there will be no refunds; however, your expiration date will still be advanced by four months.

If you have any questions, please direct them to the OCWS Membership Chair, Brian McDonald, at Brian@ocws.org or by phone at 714.227.7284.

Stay safe everyone!

– Brian McDonald, Director and Membership Chair

OCWS Annual Wine Auction

As I informed the membership last month, the Annual Wine Auction which was scheduled to take place in April was cancelled by the Orange County Fair & Event Center due to restrictions in place at the OC Fairgrounds.

As this issue goes to print, we are waiting for additional information to determine a future date for the Annual Wine Auction. My apologies for not being able to provide more details at this time.

– Bill Redding, Cellar Master

OCWS Board of Directors: Call for Candidates

It’s one of the strangest years yet!

With that being said, it’s time to think about running for the OCWS Board of Directors. We may not be able to socialize with each other due to distancing directives, but the planning goes on.

Have you thought about getting more involved with the OCWS outside of volunteering for or attending various OCWS‑related events? If you are innovative, open-minded, possess good interpersonal skills, are results oriented and a problem solver, then a position, as a Director of the OCWS just might be right for you.

The beginning of a three-year term of the nine members of the Board of Directors, according to the Bylaws, shall be staggered such that three members’ terms will expire each year. The three vacated Board positions will be filled each year by a vote of the OCWS membership, following the Annual Business Meeting in September. We have two members that cannot run again so two positions will need to be filled by new members.

The overall time commitment for a member of the Board varies, based on assignments and participation. We are moving from having the Board manage some events to having our members run the event with a Board coordinator being the liaison to the Board regarding budgets, event timing and placement.

A candidate should possess some of the following skills and experience as well:

  • General knowledge of OCWS events and activities
  • Experience as a volunteer in some events
  • The ability and time to organize events during the year
  • Selected event and budget management skills
  • Be a member in good standing

To declare your candidacy for a position on the Board, the candidate must present their Declaration of Candidacy in writing, by mail or via electronic media to the Election Chair no later than fourteen (14) calendar days prior to the scheduled Annual Business Meeting.

During the Annual Business Meeting, you will have the opportunity to speak to the membership and present your qualifications. A written Statement of Qualifications must be presented to the Election Committee no later than five (5) calendar days after your Declaration of Candidacy.

If being an OCWS leader interests you, feel free to contact Greg Hagadorn with any questions related to Director Responsibilities, the election process or anything related to the election. I can be reached at 714.388.8803 or at Greg@ocws.org.

Greg Hagadorn, 2020 Election Chair

– Leslie Brown, 2020 Election Committee Member

– Jolen Zeroski, 2020 Election Committee Member

OCWS Office Hours

In accordance with the OC Fair & Event Center, our office has temporarily been moved offsite.

If you need to contact someone, we suggest you please email us at Office@ocws.org.

We are working remotely and will pick up your messages from home and redirect them. Our offsite hours are 9 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.







– Lynda Edwards & Rochelle Randel,

Office Administrators

Virtual Wine Seminars

Virtual wine seminars are available to help you learn about wine and help to keep you from being bored during these difficult times. For the wineries who sell their wines as part of their seminars, it is also a way to support them financially. We will keep you updated as we hear about these seminars and plan to post them on our web site.

Here are two that should interest you. One is by Fallbrook Winery, who presented our March Winery Program. Euan Parker, their winemaker will present this seminar. The other is a seminar series by Vinolust presented by Sasha DeJaynes, a regular presenter in our Winery Education Program.

Join Euan Parker for a special vertical tasting of their Bordeaux style blend next Friday, April 24, at 3:00 pm! Euan will be live streaming tasting of the 2012, 2013 and 2016 vintages. Order the vertical tasting package by contacting them at 760.728.0156 or visit their online store fallbrookwinery.com/shop-now. Discounts are available for a purchase of the bundle. Leave your questions in the comment section of the seminar, Euan will answer them during and after the session.

The seminars by Sasha DeJaynes are presented on Thursdays at 3:00 pm. Sasha writes, “Here at Vinolust we are all about bringing you fun learning, travel and tasting opportunities and experiences. As part of our mailing list, you will receive wine news and updates delivered straight to your inbox. We hope you will continue on this journey with us as we celebrate our love for the exploration of all things wine! If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for our Weekly Wine Webinars to join in on the fun.”

Rich Skoczylas – Director

Wine Education 101: Get to know the Alsace Wine Region

Alsace is not one of the more famous wine regions in France, but is certainly the most unique.  Alsace is one of the most northerly wine regions in France (Champagne is furthest north) and lies in the northeast corner of France along the German border and the Rhine river.  It is a small wine region running north and south, about 75 miles long and averaging about 3 miles wide (not all under vine).

Surprisingly, Alsace, lying so far north, receives some of the lowest rainfall in France.  This is because Alsace lies in the rain-shadow effect of the Vosges Mountains, protecting it from Atlantic influences and keeping it warm and sunny.  This northerly climate along with the warm sunshine, results in ripe grapes with complex aromatics.

Alsace also lies along the Rhine graben, part of a long trough that zigzags across Europe with Alsace on one uplifted side and Baden, Germany on the other uplifted side.   Also unique to Alsace is that it contains 13 different major soil types, the result of ancient years of earth movement and erosion.  Some of the best soils for viticulture are found on the slopes of the Vosges Mountains.

What is most unique about this small wine region is its blend of both French and German cultures.  This amalgamation of cultures is a result of the region being forced back and forth in nationality between Germany and France.  Alsace was a German principality in mid-Renaissance, but was annexed by France at the end of the 17th century.  Alsace was reclaimed by Germany at the end of the Franco-Prussian War.  Alsace was then returned to France at the end of World War I, only to be occupied by Germany during World War II.  At the end of World War II, Alsace was once again returned to France.  The result of these transitions of allegiance was a beautiful blending of cultures, language, cuisine, and especially its wine.

Unlike other French wine regions, Alsace wines are labeled in the Germanic tradition – by grape varietal, rather than the French tradition of place.  Alsace also uses the long, tapered flute bottles as is traditional in Germany.

With its continental climate and 13 different soil types, Alsace land supports a wide diversity of grape varietals.  There are seven primary grapes of Alsace:  Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sylvaner, and Muscat.  Secondary grapes include:  Chardonnay (for Crémant production), Chasselas, Auxerrois Blanc, and Klevener de Heiligenstein.

Out of all these grape varietals produced, the four “Noble Grapes of Alsace” are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat.  These are the approved grapes for Alsace Grand Cru AOCs (with Sylvaner approved for one Grand Cru).  90% of wines made in Alsace are white.  While the wines of Alsace are greatly influenced by their German neighbors, they have qualities distinct to Alsace.  When most people think of these four noble grapes, they may think of sweet wines, as often in Germany.  But in Alsace, these wines are traditionally fermented dry and in stainless steel tanks or neutral barrels.  These wonderfully aromatic varietals, in combination with the northerly climate, variety of soils, and abundant sunshine in Alsace, produce wines that have bright acidity, crisp minerality, fresh fruit and floral aromas, full-bodied, with spices and richness unlike other white wines.  You may think that you are already familiar with Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat varietals – but you have not truly experienced the full character of these wines until you have tasted those from Alsace.

Alsace also produces Pinot Blanc (also known as Klevner), having perfumed and smoky notes, and Pinot Noir, which is distinctly lighter and often used in Sparkling Rosés.  You might also come across a Pinot d’ Alsace which is usually a blend of Auxerrois Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir (vinified as white), and Pinot Gris.

Also not to be missed is the Cremant d’ Alsace, the second most popular sparkling wine in France, made in the same méthode traditionnelle as Champagne.  While Alsace lies nearly as far north as Champagne, the climate is warmer and drier so that the grapes reach greater ripeness and have more round, generous flavors. Often made of crisp Pinot Blanc, Cremant d’ Alsace has a creamy texture (from a minimum 9 months sur lie aging) and can have aromas of crisp apples, citrus, honey, yeasty-notes, toasted, buttered brioche and marzipan.

To top this off, Alsace makes incredibly delicious dessert wines.  Late harvest wines made of the four noble grapes, often affected by botrytis (noble rot) are labeled as “Vendanges Tardives”.  These wines are sweet and honeyed, often having a full-body and high alcohol.  Another Alsatian dessert wine is the “Sélections de Grains Nobles”, also a sweet, late harvest wine made of the four noble grapes.  These late harvest wines must be made from botrytis-affected grapes and are hand-picked, berry by berry, through multiple passes in the vineyard.

This small region of Alsace, certainly not the most famous wine region in France, offers up a bounty of wine experiences as full and diverse as their rich culture.  Taste these Alsatian wines and your senses will be delighted by the fresh fruit and floral aromas, accompanied by perfumed richness and exotic spices. With warm weather approaching, these crisp refreshing wines from Alsace should surely be on your summer wine list.

Irene Scott, WSET-3 – Wine Education Chair


Wine Scholar Guild, French Wine Scholar Study Manual, 6th edition, ISBN 978-1-4835-8560-4

Robinsons, Janice.  “Alsace”.  https://www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/wine-regions/france/alsace

Wine Folly, “Alsace Wine Region: A Manual for Oenophiles”, Sept 12, 2019. https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/alsace-wine-region/

President Update 4/7/2020

Fellow members of the OCWS- These past few weeks have been difficult for just about everyone throughout the County, State and Nation.  As with other organizations we have been affected in both large and small ways.  Our office staff has been shifted to work remotely-Thank You Lynda and Rochelle!

We have had to accept many changes beyond our control.  The BOD and Committees have adapted to Webex meetings and alternate ways of doing our daily business.  Thank you to everyone for your patience and understanding as we have had to make these necessary changes.

Many of our events have been canceled due to the distance and meeting size requirements imposed by the Governor, the Orange County Fair and Event Center (OCFEC) and County Health Agency.   These have all been done in an attempt to ensure the health and safety of our county and state.  As an organization we also wish to ensure the health and safety of our members.   Up and down the state California Wineries have been forced to close their doors and conduct online business.  The restrictions that are currently in place have forced us to face the reality that some of our signature events must be modified, postponed or cancelled.

The Commercial Competition Committee in Coordination with the OCFEC has with much regret been forced to cancel the OC FAIR COMMERCIAL WINE COMPETITION for 2020. The decision was difficult and painful to make. A separate but related decision for the OC FAIR Home Wine Competition was also made by the Home Wine Competition Committee and the OCFEC. We are very proud of these competitions and their recognition and support of California wineries, winemakers both commercial and non-commercial. Please continue to support California wineries through purchasing your favorite wines

At the April 6th BOD meeting it was unanimously approved to extend all memberships an additional 4 months.  We will continue to work on mitigations as necessary in the days ahead.


Bill Redding