September 2021

New President’s Message

I am thrilled and proud to be President of the OCWS for the coming Board year. A year that I am hopeful finds us coming out from under, at least, a small portion of the cloud of COVID restrictions and finding a new normal, to include in-person events and virtual gatherings. My heartfelt thanks go out to the Board of Directors for having the faith in me to take the reins in hand. As I was writing this article, I thought about all the things I can say to you, the OCWS membership, over the next 12 months. I thought about questions I have been asked as a Past President and Director in knowing that I have a platform to tell you things about the organization and people involved that you may otherwise not know and, just maybe, answer some of those questions that have crossed your mind at one time or another. Please consider reading the President’s article each month and reaching out to me should you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

First and foremost, it is important for me to acknowledge what I consider to be the toughest Board year in the recent history of the OCWS. I suspect we all know that it’s easy to be in the spotlight when things are going well and to gather accolades happily and gratefully, but to run the business of the organization in a financially and emotionally depressed time is not an envious task. I hold this past year’s Board in high esteem as they made difficult decisions in an unprecedented year of unknowns. Decisions were based on “what-ifs.” What if there were no Commercial and Home Wine Competitions or no Courtyard at the OC Fair? Decisions were made taking our members into consideration, hence the suspension of membership fees for a period of time when we were unable to provide education and entertainment in manners that we have all come to expect. Decisions were made intelligently, albeit unpopular at times, to assure the financial viability of the OCWS into 2022 had no major events taken place again after nothing was able to take place the year prior. Fortunately for us, the stars came back into semi-alignment and afforded us the opportunity to hold the competitions and our major fundraiser of the year, The Courtyard, which has now begun slowly replenishing diminished coffers and gives us a bright outlook for the coming year.

If you see any of this past year’s 2020/2021 Board members, please thank them for a difficult task well done, now knowing we are solvent and heading upwards thanks to their commitment and dedication. My personal standing ovation goes out to the 2020/2021 Board of Directors:

Kevin Donnelly, President

Sara Yeoman, Vice President

Mel Jay, Treasurer

George Cravens, Secretary

Carolyn Christian, Director

Fred Heinecke, Director

Leslie Hodowanec, Director

Linda Mihalik, Director

Rich Skoczylas, Director

I look forward to an incredible year ahead!

– Fran Gitsham, 2021/2022 President

Volunteer Recognition Program

While we didn’t hold in-person events for most of the year, we did have many virtual events. Fortunately, we were able to hold our three most volunteer-intensive events in 2021 – The Commercial and Home Wine competitions and The Courtyard. In recognition of the hours of service, the Wine Society rewards its volunteers with gift certificates redeemable for admission to OCWS events. Thank you to the following volunteers for their efforts during the 2020/2021 Board year. Our volunteers make this the successful organization that it is. We encourage you to get involved. It is a great way to see how the OCWS works and meet new friends. Over the year, we had 299 members volunteer, and together they put in over 15,500 hours in total. NOTE:  The volunteer coupons will be posted to each member’s account and can be used for events through October 1, 2022. – George Cravens, Volunteer Program Chair

Award Coupon Recipients
$50 Discount Coupon $25 Discount Coupon $10 Discount Coupon


Dawn Bergen-Iglesias

Leslie Brown

Chris & Hank Bruce

Pam Carter

Damien Christian

Sam Clark

Liz & Lloyd Corbett

Kevin Coy

Noel De Sota

Jim Downey

Wendy Eld

Sue England

Kate & Charles English

Linda Flemins

Ellen Flynn

Bill Forsch

Fran Gitsham

Jane Goodnight

Larry Graham

Kim & Jerry Guerin

Greg Hagadorn

Donna Hisey

Michael Iglesias

Virginia & Karl

Kawai Cheryl & Ken Knapp

Theresa & John Lane

Kevin Lite

Mary Mulcahey

Marcy Ott

Bruce Powers

Rochelle Randel

Bill Redding

Walter Reiss

Ed Reyes

Germaine & Rob Romano

David Rutledge

Scott Sayre

Peter Schlundt-Bodien

Jack Shepard

Scott Shuster

Robyn & Dean Strom

Wendy & Stacey Taylor

Bob Topham

Barb & Dave White

Tony Wieczorek

Jolen Zerosk   

Anke Bajhart

Judy Chapel

Kim Clark

Adrienne & Ray Davis

Kimberly & Ross Doering

Dan Donati

Lynda Edwards

Nancy & Stephen Edwards

George Euan

Kathy & Claude Fusaro

Alison & Mark Godleski

Cimberly Gonzales

Kay Gooding

Kelly Hagadorn

Kelly Haggard

Scott Harral

Will Holsinger

Helga Hrowal

Lynelle Hustrulid

Shelly Jayne

Michael Johnson

Janice Mattar

Monica McCarthy

John Nation

Cathy & Lee Painter

Maia Pehrson

Alice Polser

Debbie Renne

Janet Riordan

Ronna & Craig Rowe

Karen Russell

Irene & Raul Serna

Linda Shepard

Tom Tippett

Shelly Trainor

Daniel Vlahovic

Richard Ward

Deborah Webber      

Laura Acocella

Shilo & Ray Bartlett

Greg Basile

Laura Brown

Shelley & Louis Cohen

Michael Cox

Maria Coy

Mary & Michael Czerniachowski

Chris Danoff

Michael Del Medico

Gloria & Dennis DeRosia

Liane Donati

Rochelle Donovan

Sharon & Yale Finkle

Carol Frank

Beverly Genis

Patty Hansen

Cheryl Heinecke

Laurie Kjar-Reiss

Roxanne Korzeniowski

Kathy Krieger

Kendall Madsen

Roger Mattar

Sue McDonald

John Molina

Leland Mote

Joanne Oldfield

George Ott

Mike Paz

Linda Peters

Elee & Don Phillips

Laurie Preus

Carolyn Redding

Roger Reiss

Deborah Reynolds

Jean Rico

Greg Risling

Victoria Rivera

Kim & Steven Rizzuto

Elisa & Wilton Roddy

Kathy & Brad Russo

Denise Scott

Lori Shapiro

Tricia Shelton

Ted Simon

Dave Stancil

Nancy & Gerard Unterreiner

Jean Ventri-Wilson

Lisa Viceroy

Michael Webber

Spencer Wilson



Gold Medal Mini-Tasting Results

Nearly 170 members and guests attended this year’s Gold Medal Mini-Tasting at 14 host sites around the county. The lineup of wines consisted of ten Double Gold winners, served in pairs of the same varietal/style. Three of these wines were also Best of Class.

The blind tasting included five flights of two wines each. The varietals/styles included Viognier, Pinot Noir, Mourvedre (and a Rhone red with Mourvedre as the largest percentage), GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre), and Zinfandel. Nine of the 10 wines finished in the top three at one or more sites.

The Gold medal mini-tasting is unique among the mini-tastings in that each flight is a different varietal/style, so the overall scores say more about the attendees’ personal preferences than about the wines. Our group clearly loves Zinfandels. The two Zinfandels in the lineup got the highest scores overall (by a wide margin) and the third highest scores (one point behind the second place wine).

See for details on the medal winners and a link to the winery websites for the competition winners.

The top six wines using the combined scores across all attendees are listed below:

Place Winery & Wine Name YR PRICE DESCRIPTION and SCORES
1st MacchiaMischevious

Old Vine Zinfandel

Lodi AVA

2019 $22.00 97 pt. Double Gold, Best of Class. This wine was the top choice at seven of the fourteen sites.

52 1st, 29 2nd, and 20 3rd place votes on attendees’ scoresheets.

2nd BellanteFiglio e Nuora


Los Olivos District,

Camp 4 Vineyard.

2018 $50.00 96 pt. Double Gold.

This wine placed in the top three at five of the fourteen sites.

22 1st, 18 2nd, and 13 3rd place votes on attendees’ scorecards.

3rd Peirano Estate

The Heritage Collection

Old Vine Zinfandel

Lodi Appellation

2018 $11.99 92 pt. Double Gold. Two first and two third place finishes across the fourteen sites.

18 1st, 21 2nd, 19 3rd place votes on attendees’ scorecards.

4th Wood Family Vineyards
Livermore Valley AVA
2019 $36.00 94 pt. Double Gold. Two first, one second, and two third place finishes across the fourteen sites.

17 1st, 22 2nd, 19 3rd place votes on attendees’ scorecards.

5th Carol Shelton Wines

Coquille Rouge

Rhone Style Red

Central Coast AVA

2019 $25.00 93 pt. Double Gold. Three first, one second, and one third place finishes across the fourteen sites.

18 1st, 19 2nd, 15 3rd place votes on attendees’ scorecards.

6th SculpterraRepousse’

GSM, Paso Robles

Estrella District AVA

2019 $46.00 94 pt. Double Gold. Three second and one third place finishes across the fourteen sites.

10 1st, 24 2nd, 19 3rd place votes on attendees’ scorecards.

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Gisella & Greg Brett: Lisa Viceroy “Pulled Pork Sliders”
  • Hosts Chris & Hank Bruce: Markee Fritschle “South African Meat Loaf”
  • Hosts Nancy & Stephen Edwards: Rich Skoczylas “Pinot Noir Braised Short Ribs”
  • Hosts Carol Frank & Sam Puzzo: Adrienne Davis “Cowboy Beans”
  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai: Carolyn Christian “BBQ Chicken Tacos”
  • Hosts Mike & Cathy MacKenzie: Scott Lewis “Smoked Tri-Tip with Mushroom Appetizer”
  • Hosts Betty Jo & Jay Newell: Irene Scott “Chicken Manicotti”
  • Hosts Don & Elee Phillips: Kelly Reins “Pulled Pork”
  • Hosts Greg & Cathy Risling: Kim Meier “Ginger Pear Cake”
  • Hosts Ronna & Craig Rowe: Linda Downey “Pork Roast & Cranberry Sauce”
  • Hosts John & Denise Scandura: Susan Clark “Lemon Bars”
  • Hosts Wendy & Stacey Taylor: Noel de Sota & Bill Forsch “Osso Bucco”
  • Hosts Marcia & James Vaughan: Sandro Leyva “Chicken Chili Verde”
  • Hosts Jolen & Amie Zeroski: Greg Hagadorn “Tiramisu”

Congratulations to all the winners!  A big Thank You to the Hosts!

– George Cravens, Director

Board of Directors—2021/2022

Announcing your Orange County Wine Society 2021/2022 Board of Directors:

  • Fran Gitsham—President
  • Rich Skoczylas—Vice President
  • Mel Jay—Treasurer
  • George Cravens—Secretary


  • Carolyn Christian ● Kevin Donnelly ● Fred Heinecke
    ● Brian McDonald  ● Linda Mihalik

Have I Ordered that Event Yet? My Account Page

We are finding that members sometimes duplicate their sign-ups for an event. When they get the newsletter announcement, they find a new event that looks like fun and they sign up right away. Then weeks later, when they hear their friends talking about that same wine tasting event, forgetting that they or their membership partner have already signed up, they sign up again. A good practice before signing up for any event is to scan the “My Account” page. This page is accessed from the main menu and has lots of good information about your membership. Near the bottom of the page is an area called “Recent Orders.” A quick scan here shows all the OCWS events already purchased. If it is not there, sign up within the “Events” area of the website before all the seats are taken.

All membership type selections are viewable after you have logged into your account. For example, events are for members only, to sign themselves and their guests up for our wine tastings offerings.

Other good information is listed here and can be performed from “My Account” page.

  • Changing your password
  • Viewing your membership status
  • Using the renewal button to keep your membership current
  • Seeing, if you have earned a coupon. Your code and amount are listed under the Store Credit area on this page.
  • Accessing your Profile page by selecting the “Account Details” button near the top of the page
  • It’s also a good place to make sure your address information is correct and up to date

I hope this has helped you get more familiar with our website.

– Wendy Taylor, OCWS WebMaster