February 2021

President’s Message

February has flown by despite most of us still being locked down from the COVID pandemic. The OCWS has been doing their best to keep our social connections by hosting not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different seminar tracks with our Sunday Winter Seminars, our Monday night Varietal Hours, our monthly Friday night Webinars, and the Winemakers’ Group seminars. We have several new and free “zoominars” coming up this month, so be sure to check out the Events page on our OCWS.org website, and the “Save the Date Calendar” at the end of this newsletter. 

We also plan to start more of our Wine Education Webinars this month with our certified Sommelier, starting on March 24, Wines of Mexico.

As I mentioned in my last month’s President’s Message, after suspending OCWS membership renewal fees for the past 12 months, we will resume asking for annual membership fees next month. Your renewal will be two years since your last fee, so If you renewed last time on April 1, 2019, we will request you renew on April 1, 2021. If your renewal was May 1, 2019, we will request you renew on May 1, 2021. We appreciate all of you for helping to maintain the Orange County Wine Society during one of the most trying years of our lives.

Update on our 2021 Commercial Wine Competition, Home Wine Competition, and our Courtyard at the OC Fair—the OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) is still waiting for finalization of direction from both the State and the Orange County Health Department. We are making preparations for all of these activities, but we haven’t received the final “go-ahead” from the OCFEC. I will keep you all informed as we get updates.

The Los Angeles County Fair has been canceled for 2021, so we hope we do not suffer the same fate.

Hopefully, many of you have received your COVID vaccinations or have plans to do so in the near future. This will be the key to OCWS conducting more activities in conjunction with the OC Fair, and we all want to get back to work. (And by that, I really mean PLAY!)

I wish everyone a healthy and happy March!

Kevin Donnelly, President

2021 Commercial Wine Competition Volunteers Needed

The Commercial Wine Competition Committee is continuing to move forward with the planning of the 2021 Commercial Wine Competition. It is scheduled for the weekend of June 5-6, 2021. Of course, our volunteers are critical to its success!

We understand there is still uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic and we are working with the OC Fair and Event Center Administration, taking the necessary steps to prioritize the safety of all of our members. We want you to know that concern for our volunteers is at the forefront. We are developing plans to adhere to and follow all guidelines, rules and regulations as set forth by the national, state, and local government and health departments. Since we are in the early planning stages for the event, there will be many questions you may have – we only ask that you be flexible, as nothing has been etched in stone at this point in time.

This event offers many opportunities: meet the winemakers and winery principals, increase your wine knowledge, enjoy getting to know your fellow OCWS members, and experience some great California wines. There are many tasks where volunteer help is needed: stewarding, glass washing and drying, verification of scores and computer input. No training is necessary as newer volunteers will be teamed with experienced competition volunteers.

All volunteer sign-ups are now done online! The volunteer site identifies bagging nights, stewarding days, and other work tasks with dates and times. In order to qualify for stewarding, you will need to sign up for two additional work parties. We offer bagging, hotel setup, and moving of wine to and from the competition site. In addition, volunteers can elect to work the sorting and medal mailing crews in late June.

An email announcement will be sent late March notifying members when sign-ups begin. Please make sure your email address is up to date in the ocws.org website as we will be using your email to send you confirmations. If you have questions about volunteering, please email us at Robyn@ocws.org. We look forward to your participation in this very important event! 

– Robyn & Dean Strom, Volunteer Coordinators
Commercial Wine Competition Committee

“Best of” Recipe & Wine Pairings—March 2021

The four weeks prior to writing this column just seemed to get away from me and, to be honest, I didn’t prepare as well as I should have. So, in my haste to write this article, it dawned on me that I have a simple “best of” recipe that is often requested when I attend a gathering. I have made this salad on an exceptionally large scale for up to 200 people at OCWS events with the Cooks Caucus including a few barbecues, the Home Wine Competition and a home wine competition wrap up event, and I have made it as small as a half recipe when dining with just a few friends. It can be easily tailored to serve any number of people. I have shared the recipe with anyone who has asked for it over the years and it is so simple, that if it wasn’t so good, I’d almost be embarrassed to share it with you.

Those of you that know me well know that I am not known for my culinary talents. Although I can cook and bake well from recipes, I do not have that innate sense of what flavors go with what that true chefs have. Although I have a good palate and genuinely appreciate the creations of others, I am merely a cook and, much in the style of Sandra Lee from the original Cooking Network, I create semi-homemade dishes.

This particular salad came from my frugal upbringing in that I just could not allow myself  to continue to expend the money on the exorbitant cost of the original salad from a local restaurant (shhhh…..Stonefire Grill) for the quantities that I wanted to serve, so I recreated what I thought was their recipe and, low and behold, it has been a winner ever since. I keep the canned and bottled ingredients on hand at all times and, becoming lazy in my later years, now buy the fresh ingredients already shred, if available.

I hope this finds its way onto your easy, to do list and that you enjoy it with whatever wine sounds good to you at the time. 


Shredded lettuce –  As much as you like, just pack the lettuce into the bowl as the base

Place equal lines on top of the lettuce in your desired amounts of:

Shredded Red Cabbage

Black Beans (canned, rinsed and drained well)

Corn (canned, rinsed and drained well)

Shredded Carrots

Scallions and Cilantro (diced and mixed together)

Shredded Cheese

Tortilla Chips (crumbled to use as topping)

*BBQ Sauce

*Ranch Dressing

(*Use good name brands, as it does make a difference, serve separately and drizzle equally on the salad on individual portions)

Additional Hints (from years of trial and error):

· A protein such as chicken or thinly sliced beef can be added to serve as a main course

· Serve the crumbled tortilla chip topping on the side, so they don’t get soggy on top of the salad

· Put squeeze containers of dressing and sauce on the table and allow guests to dress the salad to suit their tastes, also the salad doesn’t get soggy by serving on the side

· Play with ingredients to suit your taste (suggest not deleting cilantro/scallions)

· It’s easiest to dig down and serve the salad with tongs

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer