December 2022

Silverado Success

Just past the one-time mining outpost of Silverado, you will find Jim Kerins, who knows how to strike gold in the world of home winemaking.

Kerins, an Orange County Wine Society member for nearly a decade, moved from Costa Mesa to the rugged canyon five years ago, in part, to pursue his passion of producing clean, natural and – of course – delicious wine. Making vino runs in his blood; his great-grandfather was Portuguese and he also had tried his
hand at oenology.

His home sits on 2/3 of an acre and abuts Silverado Creek. Kerins has converted his garage into a wine laboratory of sorts where part is devoted to the process and another section is home to his nine-barrel cellar.

The barrels are American, Hungarian and French and hold different varietals including Tempranillo, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Primitivo. Kerins opines that American barrels are the best because they tend to have caramel and vanilla notes and lend a creamy finish to his wine.

To visit Kerins is not just about the journey but to also partake in his creation. The proof can be found among the 800 bottles he corked last year – there are only 40 that remain.

Winemaking “is the universal language of beauty, goodness and truth,” he says. “It’s about sharing it with the next generation and your family and friends.”

Kerins has been rewarded for his efforts. His 2021 Tempranillo won Best of Show at this year’s OC Fair Home Wine Competition and he has racked up six Double Gold medals the past two years.

His wine rack houses only 60 bottles – only two are not his. His cellar isn’t about the collection but more so about his passion for winemaking and ensuring that he shares that joy with others.

Kerins also planted 48 Tempranillo and Syrah vines on his property and expects his first harvest next season.
“The most rewarding part is to taste the wine daily and see how it evolves over time,” Kerins says. “I understand what wine style I like – one that gives involuntary salivation. I believe the best wine in the world can be made in six months as the sulfate-free Tempranillo Best of Show proves.”

If you have a cellar you would like featured in The Wine Press or know of another OCWS member who has a unique or Stellar Cellar, please email us at

President’s Message

By Fran Gitsham

Every new year brings changes and the OCWS is no exception. We are an ever-evolving organization and changing with the times is a most necessary part of the success of the organization. We are so fortunate to have volunteers with amazing hearts who bring their talents to the group year in and year out.

Each person who has devoted themselves in one way or another and has lent their areas of expertise over the years has played an integral part in the past, the present and in setting the foundation of the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank an incredibly special volunteer who has dedicated herself in a quiet, behind-the-scenes capacity.

Kudos, standing ovations and tons of thanks go out to Linda Mihalik, who single-handedly created and elevated The Wine Press, our online monthly newsletter, month after month for the past five years. Her attention to detail, creative nature and never faltering enthusiasm brought life to the publication. She kept us informed and entertained, and managed to serve a full term on the board of directors during this time.

Although it is time for Linda to step down as editor, she will still
be an active member of the OCWS while exploring other exciting adventures in her life. THANK YOU to an amazing woman with a heart of gold for lending your hand, your heart and your talents to the OCWS!

Linda has chosen to hand over the reins of The Wine Press to Cathy and Greg Risling, a dynamic duo who will be bringing their areas of expertise to further the future of the publication. I, for one, am extremely excited to read The Wine Press under their caring hands and hearts. Thank you Rislings!

I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year with hopes that our paths will cross often, while sharing wine, laughs and love.

FALL SOCIAL: Chili Cookoff

The OCWS Chili Cookoff was held Nov. 5 at the Courtyard on a beautiful day with over 150 people attending the event.

The guests also were provided hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, quesadillas, popcorn and amazing desserts by the Cooks Caucus. We had the Winemakers Group pouring their homemade wines and the Wine Wall kept everyone enjoying the winning wine.

The Wine Wall generated $1,000 for scholarships! Thank you, Rochelle Randel. The music provided by the Three 2 Sevens Band keep the dancing going the whole afternoon.

We had 11 teams making their delicious chili for the event. They worked hard in preparing the chili, decorating their location and serving all the attendees with tasty chili. Thank you to all the teams for their great entries!

So many people contributed to making the Fall Social a fun experience. It is always impressive to see how many of our members volunteer, plan, coordinate the setup, serve the wine and set up the courtyard.

Thank you to all who made this event a great afternoon full of fun!
—Alice Polser,
OCWS Member


Best Chili with Beans
Dean and Robyn Strom

Best Chili with Wine
John and Teresa Lane

Best New Member Chili
Art Cordts and Sharron Jestin

Best Most Unusual Chili
Carol Frank and Sam Puzzo

Best Overall Chili (tie)
Arts Cordts/Sharron and Jestin Glenn/Nicole Tormey

Best Presentation
Robyn and Dean Strom

Mini-Tastings – The Results are In

The December mini-tasting featured a range of red wines intended to pair nicely with a wide range of comfort food. Each of the seven mini-tasting sites voted on a “Chef of the Evening,” and the winning dishes included meatloaf, short ribs, lasagna and pecan pie (recipe at left).
The three favorite wines across the seven host sites:

1st Place
2020 Austin Hope
Cabernet Sauvignon
Hope Family Wines
Paso Robles, CA

Deep ruby in color, it expresses aromas of freshly picked black currants, ripe black cherries and blackberries, with subtle notes of violets, mocha, and dried spices. On the palate, it’s a big, powerful, modern-styled wine layered with heaps of juicy blackberry and cherry fruit, while nuances of cedar, clove, nutmeg and vanilla bean round out the long smooth finish It’s full-bodied and rich, balanced by fresh acidity and firm, polished tannins.
Accolades: 95 points, Wine Enthusiast. Named No. 7 in the Enthusiast Top 100 wines of 2020.

2nd Place
2021 Mischevious
Old Vine Zinfandel
Lodi, CA

This Mischievous blend uses multiple Old Vine Zinfandel vineyards that, when combined, produce the classic, fruit-forward characteristics that are the centerpiece of all great Lodi wines. Just a touch of Petite Sirah adds structure and increases its complexity. Aging in small oak barrels creates a soft vanilla finish making it a very food-friendly wine that can be enjoyed daily with everything from rich pasta to a juicy barbecued steak.
Accolades: 95 points, 2022 OCFair Best in Class.

3rd Place
2021 8 Years in the Desert
Zinfandel Blend
Orin Swift Cellars
Saint Helena, CA

Deep maroon core with a ruby rim. It opens with aromas of wild blackberry, pepper, oatmeal raisin cookies, Sequoia forest floor, bay leaf and spices. The entry is broad and opulent with a mid-palate of brambly raspberry, black cherry, ripe blueberry and a hint of cacao.
Accolades: 91 points Robert Parker.


Winning Recipe

Eric Williamson’s delicious pecan pie recipe garnered first place at one of last month’s OCWS mini-tastings.
“This is the pecan pie that my grandmother has cooked as long as any of the family can remember (and we all love it),” says Williams, an OCWS member since 2018. “As she was getting older we asked, ‘Grandma, what’s your secret recipe?’”
Her response?
“Oh, it’s no secret, it’s on the back of the Karo syrup bottle!”

Pecan Pie
1 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (16 oz.) pecans plus
1/4 cup for top of pie
1 9-inch deep dish pie crust
STIR the first 5 ingredients thoroughly using a spoon.
POUR into pie crust.
BAKE on center of oven for 60-70 minutes (until center reaches 200 degrees). Cool for 2 hours. Store pie in refrigerator.
SPRINKLE top of pie with finely chopped pecans.

Congratulations to all of the winners! A big thank you to the hosts. Please send your recipes to George Cravens at for possible publication on the OCWS website.

Calling all photographers

The OCWS sponsors a photography contest and you are invited to participate! As you might have guessed, the subject is “wine,” but this can mean many things to many people.

Do you have a great shot of the sun filtering through the vines just before picking? Or an action shot of wine being poured with some great swirls in the glass? Perhaps a romantic shot of a couple toasting each other?

These are a few ideas, and I’m sure you have many more of that great shot involving wine in some way.

Each month the photography committee will select a Photo of the Month for publication in an upcoming Wine Press as well as on the OCWS website. The ultimate goal is to publish an OCWS calendar consisting of the 12 best photos of the year. These may or may not be the 12 monthly winners.

If you have any questions, email

Jim is the OCWS photographer and head of the OCWS photography committee.