Wendy Taylor

President’s Message

The months of June through September are among the busiest times for the OCWS. In June, the Commercial Wine and Home Wine Competitions are held. The Commercial Wine Competition will either be in progress or completed by the time The Wine Press hits your mailbox. The Home Wine Competition is two weeks later this year, Saturday, June 15. With a brief break, we will enter into a very active wine Courtyard during the annual OC Fair held from July 13 thru August 12. In September, election of Directors for the OCWS Board and the Annual Business meeting will be held.

All of this is not a surprise to many of you!  These activities and events take a tremendous amount of member volunteers to accomplish. With my apologies in advance for anyone not mentioned, I would like to spotlight some of the major efforts that are currently or will be taking place to accomplish the events mentioned.

The Commercial Competition Committee, chaired by Leslie Brown and Head of Judges Kevin Coy, supported by the Committee has been recruiting wineries—thanks to Ken Scott and Terry McLean; receiving and cataloging wines for judging—thanks to Liz and Lloyd Corbett and crew. The weekend of May 31 through June 2 will see hundreds of our members working to bring wines and supplies to and from the Hilton Hotel, serving as stewards, score verifiers, data processors, and drying thousands of glasses! Thanks to Ken and Irene Scott for organizing this small army of volunteers.

The Home Wine Competition requires judges, stewards, scoring, glass washing and drying, and food servers. This event is once again under the care of Kevin Donnelly and Jim Downey. Thanks to all of you who have signed up to make this event a success.

The Courtyard will once again be staffed by hundreds of volunteers serving and educating the public about wine and the mission of the OCWS. Thanks to Brian McDonald, Fran Gitsham, and Rich Skoczylas for leading The Courtyard Committee.

See you all at the Fair!

– Bill Redding, President

Rhone Mini-Tasting Wrap Up With Winners Recipes

The April Mini-Tasting featured Rhone style wines and was held at five host sites throughout the county. Each of the five flights of wine featured a California wine and a French wine. There were four flights of reds, and the tasting started with a white flight. Seven of the ten wines placed in the first, second, or third place at one or more of the host sites.

The overall favorite was Secret Indulgence from Emancipation in St. Helena; second place was Chateau Puech-Haut La Closerie du Pic from Languedoc-Roussillon, France; third was Amapola Creek’s Cuvee Alis from Sonoma County; and fourth was Margerum’s M5 from Santa Barbara. The four favorite wines across the five host sites are:

Place Wine & Winery Year Price Description
1st Secret Indulgence Emancipation

St. Helena, CA

2015 $29.99 Blend: 49% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 11% Petite Sirah, 11% Mourvèdre

RP 92 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate; A blend mainly of Grenache and Syrah with some Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre and Mission coming mostly from Paso Robles and Mendocino.

2nd Chateau Puech-Haut
La Closerie du PicLanguedoc-Roussillon, France
2014 $25.99 #48 wine in VinePair’s Top 50 of 2018

RP 94 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate; Full-bodied, rounded and textured, with sweet tannin and a voluptuous, fruit-forward style.

3rd Amapola Creek
Cuvee Alis
Sonoma, CA
2013 $46.99 RP 92 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
66% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre and 12% Syrah; It is Provençal, deep, full-bodied, and a total lusty treat.
4th Margerum M5

Santa Barbara, CA

2016 $25.99 RP 90 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

42% Grenache, 36% Syrah, 14% Mourvèdre, 4% Counoise and 4% Cinsault; Reminiscent of a good Côtes du Rhône, the 2016 M5 opens in the glass with aromas of smoky black cherry, blackberry, spice, cassis and dried flowers. On the palate, it’s juicy, medium to full-bodied and supple, with a sweet core of dark fruit, good length and a youthfully primary finish.

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 & Gregory Brett: Tom Richey – Beef Stew
  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai: Eric Kalnes – “Amazing” dish
  • Hosts Else & Don Phillips: Kim Meier – Italian Penne with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Cheese
  • Hosts Ronna & Craig Rowe: Scott Lewis – Smoked Tri-Tip
  • Hosts Kim & Steven Rizzuto: Paula & Bob Becker – Cantaloupe Port Sorbet

NOTE: Three dishes tied on the initial ballot, including June & Vincent Porto’s Lasagna and Carolyn & Phil Wallace’s Coleslaw.

The detail scores by site will be posted on the OCWS website. Congratulations to all the winners! A big thank you to all of the hosts! Please send your recipes to George Cravens at George@ocws.org for possible publication on the OCWS website.

– George Cravens, Director

Winner Recipe –


Paula Becker

From Ice Cream:  The Ultimate Cold Comfort

By Jeri Quinzio

Makes one quart


1 large or 2 small cantaloupes, peeled, seeded and cut up to make 3 cups

Pinch of salt

¾ cup of sugar

¼ cup of port

3 T of orange juice

  1. Cut up the cantaloupe and measure.  To make a quart of sorbet, you’ll need 3 cups.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree cantaloupe with the salt and sugar until the sugar is thoroughly blended throughout the mixture
  3. Add the port and the orange juice and blend.
  4. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
  5. Churn in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Store in a tightly covered container in your freezer.

Graber Olive House, a Longtime, Valued Supporter of the OCWS

The Wine Society would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Graber Olive House for their friendship, generosity and continued support over the years.

Graber Olive House has provided their specialty olives to the Commercial Wine and Home Wine Competitions for many years. As you know, palate assault can be extreme even though wine judges may expectorate every sip. The acidity in white wines and tannins in red wines can be a painful experience after a full day of tasting. A small cup of Graber olives is placed alongside each judge, and the olives neutralize the elements in both reds and whites, work wonders for the palate and taste fantastic, too.

Graber olives are hand-picked when they’ve ripened to a cherry-red color, then “cured in covered vats without being oxidized,” according to Graber Olive House. After the curing and canning processes, the olives are of varying shades of nutlike color.

Graber Olive House is located in quiet, serene surroundings. Visitors will be delighted to discover a bit of early California when they visit. Along with olives, Graber Olive House offers many other products, such as crisp California almonds and pistachios, olive oils and elegant gift baskets. You can also visit their website at GraberOlives.com to have products shipped directly to you.

Graber Olive House is located at 215 E. Fourth Street,
Ontario, CA 91764.

President’s Message

In the February edition of The Wine Press, I encouraged everyone to try some new things. I am happy to report that I have visited a winery that is new to me and will definitely be added to my list of wineries to re-visit.

The OCWS also sponsored our first Wine Education Seminar which was well attended and garnered great reviews. The second in the series, “Wines of Bordeaux,” was held on April 14. Kudos to Irene Scott, Wine Education Chair, for getting this series going. Do not miss out on future wine education seminar opportunities.

If that was not enough, April was also the month for our Annual Wine Auction that was attended by a record number of members. Thanks to all the dozens of volunteers who made this event such a success, and to the members who purchased auction lots to help sustain us financially.

In rapid succession, April 12 was the Red Soles Winery program, April 27 the Rhone Mini-Tasting, and the Champagne Brunch was held at Newport Landing on April 28. Please thank the Event Chairs, volunteers and hosts when you see them.

There are so many new members attending our events for the first time. If you are one of our “veteran” members, please introduce yourself, invite someone to sit at your table, offer assistance, and make them feel welcome.

With the 2019 Commercial Wine Competition on June 1 and 2 and the 2019 Home Wine Competition on June 15, a lot will be happening on the competition side of the OCWS. If you are interested in volunteering for either of these events, please refer to The Wine Press or visit our website at ocws.org for more details. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

Home Wine Competition Volunteers Needed

Calling all volunteers! The 2019 Home Wine Competition will be held on June 15th in the OC Fair Courtyard, and volunteers are needed to ensure our success!

We need your help to make this year’s OC Fair/OCWS Home Wine Competition successful. We need over 100 volunteers to run this event on Saturday, June 15 from 7:30 am to about 1:00 pm (or later if you stay to taste the wines). Winemakers and non-winemakers are invited to volunteer before the general membership so you can get the position you want.

To sign up, please go to the ocws.org website and click on Competitions, then Home Wine, and fill out the form.

You will get two great meals made by the Cooks’ Caucus and get to taste all the great wines after judging is complete.

In addition, there will be a “thank you” party for all volunteers and persons that submitted wines to be held at The Courtyard on Sunday, June 16 with food and all the gold and double gold wines to taste!

Jim Downey,
Volunteer Coordinator

Commercial Competition Volunteers

We have had great enthusiasm for signing up this year, and we would like to extend a Thank You to all our volunteers for your support!

As of this writing, we are still behind about 10 steward positions for Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and June 2. If you are able to help, please sign up as soon as possible. Also, please check the OCWS website for any remaining positions that are open.

We will be sending out confirmation of activities during the third week of May 2019. Please look out for emails from Ken@ocws.org. If you are unable to fulfill your volunteer assignment, please contact us directly at Ken@ocws.org or Irene@ocws.org as soon as possible. We are excited to see you at the Competition!

– Ken & Irene Scott,
Volunteer Coordinators

President’s Message

Over the years, many members have asked, what happens to all of those bottles? They are, of course, referring to the wines that are entered into the OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition which is co-hosted by the OCWS. The entries take quite a journey from wineries to a multitude of uses once they arrive at the Orange County Fair & Event Center (OCFEC). Each winery submits six bottles so each step involves a lot of duplicate maneuvers. Last year there were over 2,700 entries with 126 varietals!

The wines are received by the Wine Competition Committee and then cataloged and labeled in preparation for the judging in June. The entry to this competition is free! Bottles are labeled with a unique code for each bottle. The bottles that will be judged are “bagged” and labeled, sorted by sugar level and price categories so that wines are judged fairly to ensure a high priced wine is not judged against a low priced wine. Two of these six bottles are then sorted and put into judging categories, e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon (CS-1) bottles “A” and “B.” The bottles are then judged in a blind tasting by a panel of five judges with the “B” bottle held in reserve in the event the judges wish to re-judge a wine.

After the Competition, the remaining wines are then sorted again by varietal and placed into groups—those that were awarded a medal and those which were not. These wines are put into the OCWS Cellar and are offered to the public at The Courtyard during the annual Orange County Fair. Some are available as “Award” winning wines for taste. Others are used and poured on the “varietal” side for sale by the glass. This is a great opportunity to try many wines in one location, so come on by and tell your family and friends to come to The Courtyard and support the OCWS.

The remaining bottles are then re-sorted by varietal, medal and price and placed into either verbal lots or silent auction lots. This is the second fundraising event that makes the Commercial Wine Competition possible. This year’s Auction is Saturday, April 6; sign up online or even at the door. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

Pinot Noir Mini-Tasting Wrap Up

Nearly 100 members and guests attended the March 2 Pinot Noir Mini-Tasting at six host sites. Five flights of wine came from various locations including Arroyo Grande Valley, Carneros, Central Coast, Sonoma, Sonoma Coast, Santa Maria Valley, and Willamette Valley (Oregon).

The overall favorite was from Patz & Hall in Carneros; second place was Aequorea’s Seafarer; third was Fort Ross’s Sea Slopes; and fourth was very close to third, from Capiax.

The three favorite wines across the six host sites plus the fourth place which was very nearly tied for third:

Place Winery Name Year Price Description
1st Patz & Hall; Hyde Vineyard
2016 $55.99 WINE ADVOCATE 93+ —Medium ruby-purple colored, profoundly scented of black cherries, black raspberries, and red currants with touches of forest floor, black soil, stewed tea, and lavender.
2nd Aequorea Seafarer
Central Coast
2014 $34.95 The aromatics are intense – redolent of dried cranberry, red apple skin, white pepper, and Earl Grey tea. The palate is bright and vibrant, with a core of dark red fruit, uplifted spice, grated chocolate, roasted nuts, dried orange rind, and toasty oak.
3rd Fort Ross Sea Slopes
Sonoma Coast
2014 $29.95 ROBERT PARKER 90 POINTS—The 2014 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes gets its name from overlooking the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 1,200 to 1,700 feet. This wine offers loads of Chinese black tea, pomegranate, floral notes, and a hint of raspberry in a medium-bodied, fresh, lively, Côte de Beaune style.
4th Capiax Chimera
Sonoma Coast
2016 $29.95 ANTONIO GALLONI 90 POINTS—Laced with essence of sweet red cherry, underbrush, dried herbs, orange zest, and exotic floral notes. Plump and juicy, yet also very much medium in body and gracious, with terrific freshness.

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 Germaine & Rob Romano: Bill & Noel Forsch with their “Appetizer Feast”
  • Hosts Pat & Frank Solis: Eberhard Neutz with his “Lebirkaefe with caramelized onions”
  • Hosts Marcia & James Vaughan: Rich Skoczylas with his “Hazelnut Cake”
  • Hosts Barbara & David White: Paula Becker with her “Mediterranean Chicken”
  • Hosts Betty Jo & Jay Newell: Jean Rico with her “Chicken Tortilla Casserole”
  • Host Mike Del Medico: Lynda Edwards with her “Spinach Dip”

The detailed scores by site will be posted on the OCWS website. Congratulations to all the winners!

A big thank you to the hosts! Please send your recipes to George Cravens at George@ocws.org as a possible recipe to be published on the OCWS website.

– George Cravens, Director










The Good, the Bad & The Wine Tasting Room

Visiting a tasting room is an excellent way to experience the diverse selection of a winery’s wines in a relaxed, fun, and social environment—albeit a foreign territory for those of us who live outside of wine country.

Insiders have shared some “do’s” and “don’ts:

  • Do try a wine you don’t think you might like – this is what tastings are for
  • Do refrain from openly criticizing wines; wine tasting is subjective (to a degree)
  • Do ask for seconds if you are seriously considering buying the wine
  • Do moderate your intake – spit if you are visiting quite a few tasting rooms
  • Don’t wear perfume or cologne – 80% of our sense of taste is experienced through our noses; be considerate with wearing as little scent as possible
  • Don’t ask for “in the industry” discounts
  • Don’t ask for the “good stuff” – it implies you are not being served any good wines; do inquire about reserve wines or library wines
  • Don’t haggle on the price; it’s not a car dealership

The Orange County Wine Society supports all California winemakers and principals. Each year during the OC Fair, we proudly introduce award-wining wines as well as feature all wines from the Commercial Wine Competition for tasting by the general public at The Courtyard.

Membership in the OCWS does not include representing oneself as “industry” or an “industry winemaker.” The OCWS is a non-profit brand and we have established trust with many external audiences in the wine industry. We have a clear mission and vision and are strategic in our marketing and branding initiatives. Every member visiting a California winery should introduce themselves as an Orange County Wine Society member—be a proud marketer for the OCWS.

– The OCWS Board of Directors

Congratulations Are in Order

Congratulations to all who won door prizes at the Frances Ford Coppola Winery Program tasting that was held on Friday, February 22.

A special “congratulations” goes to Arnie Gamboa who won the top Coppola prize by naming the most winners of the Oscars, getting 16 out of 24 answers correct. Arnie received a special Coppola Care Package which included Coppola food items, wearables, and wine.

Unfortunately, we do not have a photo of Arnie with his Coppola prize; however, we would like to share with you several photos of prizes won by members present at the Coppola tasting, along with Bill Redding presenting winemaker, Francois Cordesse, with a plaque. Log in to the OCWS website to view many more photos taken at this event.

– Rich Skoczylas, Winery Program Coordinator