March 2024

In Our Backyard – Vinos Unidos

United in Wine

Making quality wine that the public enjoys is obviously one of – if not the main priority for a commercial winemaker.

But for some, like Vinos Unidos co-founder Bob Jauregui, giving back to the community and embracing the twists and turns of the journey can be as equally rewarding.

It also doesn’t hurt to get your grapes from the most prestigious and recognizable wine regions in the United States.

“Napa by itself is a brand,” Jauregui said. “It’s a door opener.”

The former assistant high school principal best described his venture into the winemaking world seven years ago as an accident and clearly a blessing. His connections were straight from some of Napa’s elite wineries – Opus One, Caymus – and Artesa Cellarmaster Gerry Martinez shared the same passion that eventually led them to co-found Vinos Unidos.

“Gerry knew the process and saw other people do it,” Jauregui said. “We made as many connections as we could and asked them what to do, what they would do different and how to market the wines. We knew we had an inside track to a lot of good fruit.”

Their first venture was a 2018 Atlas Peak rose. The wine was entered into a rose-only competition at a steakhouse in Irvine and it took the top prize. Jauregui knew then that it just wasn’t family and friends who liked their wine.

Although all of the grapes are sourced from Napa and Sonoma, Vinos Unidos – United Wines – is based in Mission Viejo. The name “evokes sitting down with people, sharing stories with one another over a glass of wine,” Jauregui said.

The label also is a touching and sentimental feature. Two friends have an arm around one another as if they are on a walk or sharing a special moment.

The people who drink Vinos Unidos wines are “on a journey with us,” Jauregui humbly notes. While the winery is still relatively small, word of mouth or as Jauregui puts it “liquid to lips” is helping Vinos Unidos grow. He credits family and friends for helping the winery stay afloat during the pandemic.

Gerry Martinez (left) and Bob Jauregui have been making wine since 2018

A big part of the winery’s identity is through the owners’ Hispanic heritage. Both Bob and Gerry’s fathers were from Jalisco, Mexico, and Gerry’s dad worked the vineyards in Napa after the family moved there. Bob says they have been inspired by Hispanic-run wineries like Ceja and Maldonado vineyards, both located in the Napa Valley, which infuse their culture and knowledge into their wines.

“I think we are starting to get some traction,” Jauregui said. “We know the winemaking side very well.”

Bob and Gerry also recognized the importance of supporting the community. They often pour their wines at corporate events, fundraisers, holiday parties and other festive celebrations. They have given donations for a scholarship to three colleges for students majoring in enology, viticulture and culinary arts. Last year, they donated wine, their time or wine tasting certificates to 19 different charity and nonprofit events.

“We are paying it forward and seeing what happens,” he said. “We try to get out there and support different organizations.”

You can say it’s the best of both worlds for Vinos Unidos. They get their fruit from Napa and Sonoma and call home to one of the largest wine markets – Orange County – in the nation.

Jauregui said they recently finished bottling six wines – two roses, two Pinot Noirs, a Sauvignon Blanc and a red blend. The goal is to produce about 2,500 cases and still remain a small winery with ardent supporters.

Their wine club has some unique features: they offer barrel tastings to members so they get to see how the wine evolves over time. There are quarterly tastings, a behind-the-cellar tour and lessons about the history and science of wine.

If the results from the competitions the winery enters are any indication, the good fortune will continue for Bob and Gerry. Each wine in their portfolio has won a medal.

“We want to be a winery that people know and love and look forward to tasting what we make,” Jauregui said. “It’s about having a following where you really get to connect with people.”

President’s Message

By Carolyn Christian

Spring is finally here and April kicks off our busy season as we host our flagship events. This year we have a particularly busy April, with 10 events to choose from this month alone.

Make sure you read our newsletter and website and review the weekly reminders for details on all the diverse events coming up in the next few months so you don’t miss out!

New starting this month

  • Membership Information Verification: You will be receiving an email from us with the information listed in our membership database. Please take a moment to check that the information is correct (your email, name and co-member name, address, join date, whether you are interested in home wine activities, etc. Feel free to reach out to Rochelle or Lynda in the office if you have difficulty updating your profile information.
  • New Member Badges: The OCWS is rolling out a new member badge—same logo and look but with the addition of the year you joined. This is part of our effort to showcase and recognize our members and the number of years they have dedicated to our organization.

Thank you to our volunteers!

This organization is run by our volunteers. Each year hundreds of you participate on committees and at events. It warms my heart to see so many people take interest in the well-being of our organization, which is now in its 48th year! This month, I would like to highlight just a few of those who dedicate their time to running this organization.

First, the Spring Social Committee, chaired by Alice Polser and Betty Jo Newell, is putting together a fun-filled day of food and wine April 6 featuring the incredible cooking of our own Cooks’ Caucus. The Wine Auction team has also been hard at work putting together an amazing event. You will be able to see the fruits of their labor April 20.

Fran Gitsham is heading up the OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition June 1-2 again this year. This event is run by a group of dedicated individuals who work year-round to put on one of our flagship events. Kevin Donnelly is heading up the OC Fair Home Wine Competition June 8, run by another group of volunteers who make another one of our flagship events a huge success.

Fred Heinecke and Fran Gitsham are co-chairing this year’s Wine Courtyard at the OC Fair July 19 to Aug. 18, supported by another team of amazing volunteers.

Hats off to Ed Reyes for heading up the Winemakers Group and a whole series of events to help those interested in learning how to make wine.

And finally, a big shout out to Greg and Cathy Risling – for putting together this amazing newsletter and organizing some great outings at local wineries.

Thank you to all who volunteer for OCWS and make it such an amazing organization!

Future Volunteer Opportunities

All our events require volunteers to keep them running smoothly. If you haven’t already signed up, I highly recommend volunteering for the Commercial and Home Wine Competitions in June and the Wine Courtyard in July and August. These are volunteer opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else. All involve a variety of volunteer positions and provide you with a unique opportunity to meet winemakers and try new wines.

In addition, we invite you to become ambassadors for OCWS and spread the word to all your favorite California wineries about the 2024 OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition. You should have already received an email with four ways you can help get the word out by forwarding our email announcement, taking a copy of the brochure to wineries when you visit them, volunteering to call wineries about entering and tagging us on social media when you visit your favorite wineries or open a bottle of their wine. For more details, about becoming an Ambassador.

I look forward to seeing you all at our many upcoming events! Cheers and Happy Spring!

Silent Auction at the Spring Membership Social

This year, the Silent Auction for the Spring Membership Social has some grand items! Take a look at the listing of the 15 baskets being presented and come ready to win your favorite! Remember, we accept cash, check and credit cards. All proceeds go to the Scholarship Program.


Set of 12 Wine Glasses and Storage Case


2019 Weingut Niklas Sudtirol Doc Alto Adige, Tray, Pasta, Sauces, Bread Board and Knife, Wine Opener, Bread Sticks


Picnic Basket, 4 Plates, Eating Utensils, Placemats, 4 Wine Glasses, 2021 Macchia Zinfandel, 2 Hand Towels


6 Hand-Painted Wine glasses, 3 Matching Candle Holders, Flower holder with Candle, Wine


Handmade by Betty Jo Newell


1996 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque — Fleur de Champagne Brut in Gift Box with Flutes

PLEASE NOTE: It cannot be determined how these were stored.


2 Serving Trays, 6 Plates, 6 Roasting Forks, 6 Wine Glasses,

6 Sets Reusable Cutlery, S’more Fixings, 2013 Tobin James Late Harvest Zinfandel, “Liquid Love,” Cookies


Handmade by Jay Newell


4 Wine Glasses, Carrier, Cheese Pairing Spread Set, Napkins, Cheese Board, Cheese Knives, Wine Charms, 2 Wines, Wooden Box


Measures 24×24 inches. Made by Alice Polser.


Live Plants: Basil, Thyme, Rosemary; Planter, Birdhouse, Bianchi Chardonnay, Apron


2020 Campo Viejo Riosa, Dispenser, Staging, Note Cards, Wooden Box

LOT 13 – Wine Cork Wreath with Bows for Holidays

Handmade by Alice Polser and Betty Jo Newell


2 Mats, Towel, Bowls, Food, Wine, Large CORKICLE Beverage Cooler

LOT 15 – ​​​​​WINE FOR TWO

Glasses, Coasters, Charms and Wine

OCWS Scholarship Program: Sonoma State University

OCWS funds scholarships for eight California colleges and universities, including Sonoma State University in Santa Rosa. Unlike some of the other institutions we support that focus on viticulture and enology, Sonoma State University focuses on the business side of the wine industry with its Wine Business Institute.

The Wine Business Institute was formed in 1996 as a partnership between the wine industry and the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University. WBI offers undergraduate degrees, an MBA and an Executive MBA. The program currently has 85 undergraduate and 55 graduate students. It also offers industry certifications in such areas wine industry finance and accounting, wine business management and wine entrepreneurship.

The program awards about 350 professional certificates each year. For all its degrees, WBI aims to give students real world experience in the wine industry. It also is an official member of the Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance National Center of Excellence. VESTA consists of 17 university and two-year programs across the country with the goal of VESTA of providing students with a foundation of the science, mathematics and technology skills needed for a productive career in the grape and wine industry.

WBI is very excited and appreciative of the OCWS scholarship contributions to their program. They recently invited several OCWS board members to their alumni gathering at Brewery X in Anaheim.

Just a friendly reminder there is always time to donate to the OCWS Scholarship Fund for 2024. There are two ways to donate:

  1. Mail a check – Complete your check using the same instructions as above, and mail it to the OCWS office at OCWS, P.O. Box 11059, Costa Mesa, CA 92627; Attn: Scholarship Fund.

A donation letter will be sent to you.

  1. Donate Online – Log on to your account at and go to the scholarship donation page: You can make your donation online and print a receipt for tax purposes at the same time.

—Damian J. Christian, Scholarship Chair

RBS Certification

One Month Closer!

  You must be RBS certified before signing up to volunteer AT the Courtyard. Here’s how:

 Before we know it, the OC Fair will be upon us again. The largest OCWS fundraising effort of the year will be taking place for a total of 23 days, Wednesdays through Sundays, July 19 through August 18.

Volunteering at The Courtyard is a unique and fun experience. Beginning next month, you will be seeing information about signing up for shifts but, in the meantime, it is important to know that all Courtyard volunteers handling wine in any capacity are required to be RBS (Responsible Beverage Server) certified through the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Commission) pursuant to fair requirements.

It is highly recommended that you obtain certification sooner than later in order to sign up for Courtyard shifts when available. If you received your RBS certification within the last two years, then your certifications are still in good standing for this year. Certifications are valid for three years.

How do I get started? Check out our tips below!


Please send an email to RBS team members Sue England and Linda Flemins at, letting them know you need to be RBS certified this year.


Instructions will be sent to you when you register. 1. Create an RBS account with Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). 2. Take a course with the RBS course provider that the OCWS has selected. 3. Take a final quiz with ABC online and obtain the RBS certificate, which is valid for three years.


Once you have sent your request for certification you will receive an email from #1 Premiere with your username and password and a link to the online course. You may take the class one chapter at a time or all at once. The online course is followed by an online exam with ABC. Once you are RBS certified you are ready to serve at the OC Fair


Each OCWS member will need a valid individual email address that will be used to set up your account. Your own individual email address will be your username for the online system.

Thank you so much for your volunteer efforts! You are what makes the OCWS the great success it is.


Wine Wisdom – Veraison

The Vine’s Annual Cycle – from Weeping to Veraison

It’s often said that wine is made in the vineyard and there are several factors that make this true. One factor is the vineyard workers who care and tend for the vines. Another factor is the grape vine. The amazing plant that year after year, through a well-established annual growth cycle, produces the fruit that is made into wine.

What is that well-established annual cycle? After the harvest and during the winter months grape vines are dormant conserving energy for spring and new growth. It’s during the spring that the vine’s annual cycle begins to focus on wine. As the ground temperature begins to rise above 50 degrees, sap will begin to flow upward in the vine and out the tips of the canes (the vine’s branches) that were pruned during the winter months. This is referred to as “weeping.”

Within days, bud break occurs, greenery and tiny shoots emerge from the nodes left on the canes. Over the next one to two months, the shoots and greenery grow into new canes and leaves.

Flowering then begins. Tiny clusters of flowers appear along the canes and since vinifera grapes are self-pollinating, insects are not necessary for fertilization. Each fertilized flower becomes a “berry” and with the immature grapes sometimes being called “berries,” referred to as berry set or fruit set.

Over the following three to four months the vine, taking on water and nutrients and benefiting from the sun will grow the grapes from small, hard, green berries, high in acid and low in sugar to physiologically mature grapes that are higher in sugar and lower in acid. This important step in grape production is known as veraison and is when red grapes begin to color and white grapes become translucent or golden. Harvest is now near and the winemakers take over the responsibility of turning the vine’s hard work into the wine that we all enjoy.

From weeping to veraison—intrigued? Good, and if you like the wine then enjoy it! Cheers!

Do you have a question on wine, submit it to us at

 Wine Education Committee, CL Keedy

CHEF OF THE EVENING – Easy Philly Sliders

Prepared by Deborah Webber

A different take on the Philadelphia favorite. The original cheesesteak was credited to Pat and Harry Olivieri, two brothers who ran a hot dog stand near South Philadelphia’s Italian Market. Legend has it that in the 1930s, the brothers wanted to offer new sandwiches. Their new item was grilled beef and onions in a toasted roll, with no cheese! A customer asked for one with provolone cheese and the classic Philly cheesesteak was born!

Preparation Time: 30-40 minutes

Yield: 12 servings


24 Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

3 pounds ground beef

1 large diced sweet yellow onion

1 large diced green bell pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

6 ounces softened cream cheese

8 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese

5 tablespoons melted butter

2 teaspoon garlic salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble the beef while cooking until it is no longer pink. about 8-10 minutes.

Drain fat from the skillet.

Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder.  Stir to combine.

Add cream cheese. Mix until combined.

Cut the slider rolls in half horizontally and lay the bottom sections in a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Spread the beef mixture evenly over the bottom roll layer.

Top the beef mixture evenly with the provolone cheese slices and replace the tops of the rolls.

Mix the melted butter and the garlic salt together.

Cut between the sandwich rolls to divide each slider sandwich

Brush the butter mixture over the top. Bake in preheated oven until heated through, about 20-25 minutes.


February 2024 Old World vs. California Mini-Tasting Results:

The February Mini-Tasting was held at seven sites (members’ homes) across the county, with 111 people enjoying 10 wines in a blind tasting. The attendees each contributed a dish and each site voted for their favorite dish and the chef was awarded a bottle of wine as Chef of the Evening.

The wines were served in five blind flights of two wines each and the attendees judged each wine, voted for their favorites and tried to determine the wine varietal and if it was from Europe (the Old World) or California. There were two varietals from Spain (Albariño and Tempranillo) and three from Italy (Barbara, Sangiovese and Zinfandel/Primitivo).

All 10 of the wines finished in the top four at one or more of the sites, with the top two wines finishing in the top four at six of the seven sites. The top three were all California wines, but the fourth and fifth favorites were from Italy and Spain.

The overall winner was Carol Shelton’s Rockpile Reserve Zinfandel from Sonoma with the corresponding Primitivo, Torcicoda, from Southern Pugila, Italy coming in fourth overall. Second place overall was a Napa Valley Tempranillo, Parador, with the Spanish Tempranillo, Vina Real, finishing fifth overall. Third overall was a California Barbara from Scott Harvey in Amador County, California.

The three favorite wines across the seven host sites:



Carol Shelton


Rockpile Reserve



Sonoma County, CA


94 points

Wine Enthusiast

2019 $41.99 Dark, deep and pure fruit flavors mingle with subtle cinnamon and vanilla oak spices in this lush and luscious wine that relaxes in soft tannins. Ripe, indulgent and yet balanced so as not to feel heavy, this wine is truly distinctive. 80% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Sirah and 5% Carignane.






Napa Valley, CA



92 points

Wilbur Wong

2014 $42.99 Parador Tempranillo is aged 30 months in older French barriques and puncheon barrels. The vine-cuttings originated from Spain and the grapes are sourced from Stagecoach Vineyard. Made with 100% Tempranillo. This wine shines with its aromas and flavors of black fruit, licorice, and dried earth.


Scott Harvey


J and S Reserve


Amador County, CA


90 points

Wine Enthusiast

2020 $33.99 This well-balanced wine can easily be paired with a plethora of dishes. Notes suggest fresh blackberry and blackberry jam, black cherry compote, plum pie filling, cinnamon, licorice, sweet tobacco and just a hint of cedar.

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 Chris & Hank Bruce:

         Mary Anne Neutz – Pear Tart 

  • Hosts Laureen & Tom Baldyga:

         Susan Clark – Italian Salad 

  • Hosts Carolyn & Damian Christian:

         Beth & Craig Stark – Tiramisu

  • Hosts Virginia and Karl Kawai:

          Eric Kalnes – Salmon Sushi

  • Hosts Betty Jo & Jay Newell:

          Irene Scott – Chicken Lemon Piccata 

  • Hosts Cathy & Greg Risling:

          Chris Oullette – Beef Bourguignon 

  • Hosts Barb & Dave White

          Debbie Webber – Philly Cheesesteak Sliders

Congratulations to all the winners! A big thank you to the hosts!

George Cravens, OCWS Director