President’s Message

January has sure started off with a “bang,” and not just with New Year’s fireworks! We have a new United States President, and time will tell how this will all play out over the next months and years.

During the past 10 months, the Wine Society has been paying a lot of ongoing expenses, which has tapped into our financial reserves. We understand that since we have not had in-person activities, members have not had the usual events that our membership offers. Last March, the Board of Directors chose to suspend membership renewal fees starting April 1, 2020, and as a result, we have retained all of our members. The Board has now decided that after 12 months, we will resume requesting renewal fees starting April 1, 2021. If your renewal was April 1, 2020, we will request you renew on April 1, 2021. If your renewal was June 1, 2020, we will request you renew on June 1, 2021. 

The Wine Society continues to have our social events virtually since we are still under pandemic restrictions. We know that several of our OCWS members have contracted COVID-19, and we wish them all fast and complete recoveries.

We have several Sunday sessions planned, which are always entertaining and well attended. In January, we added new events, our “Varietal Hours,” which are conducted as Zoom meetings (as opposed to Zoom webinars), allow us to see everyone on the screen. Our first two Varietal Hours were on January 11 and January 18 and were well received by everyone. We can all use more social interaction in these trying times, and we hope to see a lot more of you in the coming weeks! 

We are still making preparations to conduct our Commercial Wine Competition and Home Wine Competition in June, pending opening up our environments as we approach these events. The Orange County Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) is making their plans for the 2021 OC Fair, and we plan to be fully involved, so keep the dates open. I will keep you informed as we hear more information from the State and the OCFEC for any updates to the situation.

The vaccinations for COVID-19 are now available for many people, with more of us becoming eligible every week. We hope that as more and more people get vaccinated, the OCFEC and the whole world will start opening up, and we can begin to resume our OCWS activities. 

In the meantime, I hope everyone stays healthy and safe in these trying times.   

 Kevin Donnelly, President

Facts and Wine Movies

A Couple of  Wine Facts

 Though likely invented decades earlier, the world’s first corkscrew patent was filed in 1795 by English Reverend Samuel Henshall. To make a firmer fit with the cork, he added a flat button of metal to the helix. His corkscrew was so useful that it has been widely utilized for over 100 years.

 A person who collects corkscrews is a Helixophile.

A Few Worthy Wine Movies to Consider

Let’s get serious:

 A Year in Burgundy (2013) – watch on Amazon Prime

 A Year in Champagne (2014) – watch on Amazon Prime

 Barolo Boys (2014) – watch on Amazon Prime

Decanted (2016) – watch on Amazon Prime

A little romance with wine:

 A Good Year (2006) – watch on Amazon Prime/Hulu

 A Walk In the Clouds (1995) – watch on Amazon Prime

 A Heavenly Vintage (2009) – watch on Amazon Prime

For a little humor or a classic caper:

 Wine Country (2019) – watch on Netflix

 Year of the Comet (1992) – watch on Amazon Prime

OCWS Winery Webinar—Mineral Wines Winemaker

Friday, February 12, 2021 @ 6:30 pm

Via Zoom Webinar Platform

Brett met future wife Andrea Henkel in 1993 while working at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley. Brett was not much of a wine drinker back then, but Andrea cured him of that, introducing him to red wine. Andrea’s family had just planted a small vineyard, and after Brett and Andrea were married in 1995, Brett decided to forgo his college studies for Hospitality Management and changed majors to Enology and Viticulture. As he worked his way through college, Brett continued to work as Sommelier and/or manager at several upscale restaurants while attending Fresno State University, earning his degree in Viticulture and Enology in 2003. Upon moving back home to the small gold rush town of Angels Camp, Brett assumed management of the family’s four acre Cherokee Creek Vineyard, which originally grew exclusively Merlot grapes. When a movie with an unmentionable name decimated demand for Merlot grapes, Brett grafted three acres of the vineyard to Roussanne, Viognier, and the specialty of the vineyard, Petite Sirah. These are the grapes that now define the Mineral Wines’ brand! For the first three years of business starting in 2012, wine tasting was offered on the patio overlooking the grounds of the estate. In winter, room was made to taste inside the barn among the barrels. It was a very small operation and has grown to now making about 1,800 cases a year.  

About the Winemaker—Brett Keller:

A Unique Philosophy of Winemaking:

Brett’s lovely wife Andrea loved to travel to the Napa Valley to taste the great Cabernets back in the day. She always encouraged Brett to make 3 or 4 wines that were always top quality, in the tradition of Caymus and Silver Oak. Brett’s answer to this was to make no less than a dozen different varieties, all small production between 40 and 150 cases of each. You will hear him say “I did not spend six years in college to only master a few wines—I worked to master every wine I could make!”  

Brett’s style of winemaking focuses on two things: First, EVERY wine must taste as the variety should. Therefore each wine has to be made in a way that the varietal character speaks loudly. Barbera should NOT taste like Zinfandel. This means that every wine must be made individually. Yeasts, barrels and different vineyards are selected for each variety according to what it will do for the characters of the wine. Many vintners just do not understand that to give wines their individual identity you cannot make them the same way with the same barrels, yeasts, and cellar treatment. 

The second key to the success of Mineral Wines is to make these wines distinctively California in style. California makes arguably the best wines in the world. In Calaveras County, we have a predictably long, dry harvest season which yields fully-ripe grapes with rich fruit flavors that make big, fruit forward wines. The thought is this … to make a great wine memorable it takes time. Yup, the longer you can taste it the better impressed is the wine lover. Big, rich wines that carry varietal character inherent to the grape are our specialty. 

Is it Science or Art?

One other thing, it takes an artist to make great wine. An artist has tools to make something beautiful. Whether a painter with their art palette of colors to mix and different media to make a beautiful painting—or a chef with their spices and different techniques to make great food. Science is the language of the art of making wine. Different yeasts, barrels, grapes, clones of grapes, climate change, smoke during harvest, viticulture practices, and too many more tools to mention all contribute to the essence of great wine. These all interact to make something beautiful, to create an experience like no other, when the fruit of the vine is crafted and nurtured to give pleasure in its enjoyment.


· 2017 Cabernet Franc $32

· 2016 Meritage $32

· 2016 Merlot $28

Log in to Mineralwines.com and use Promo Code OCWS20 at checkout for 15% off the tasting package above. Brett is also offering discounts as follows: 20% off for 6-11 bottles of current releases and 25% off for a case or more bottles purchased, including “Library” wines. All shipping is half-price. Remember, members will have to sign up on the OCWS website for the Winery Webinar to watch via Zoom. Buying the wines does not automatically sign you up for the webinar. If you have any questions, contact Les@ocws.org.

We have adjusted the content of this presentation to three bottles. A five-bottle blending webinar viewed at multiple households online present certain challenges in judging the winner. Brett is creating a blending video available for future viewing and will be presenting a blending demonstration at a Courtyard Seminar at the OC Fair in the future.  

Cheers! Looking forward to seeing all of you online.

– Liz Corbett, Contributing Writer

Calling on Volunteers for the 2021 Commercial Wine Competition

The Commercial Wine Competition Committee has decided to move forward with the planning of the 2021 Commercial Wine Competition scheduled for June 5-6, 2021. We understand that this has been a challenging time in so many ways, and the coming months will likely bring more challenges our way. Be assured that we prioritize the safety of all of our members, and want you to know that concern for our volunteers is at the forefront. We will adhere to and follow all guidelines, rules and regulations as set forth by the national, state, or local government and health department.

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. Preparation will be key to our success, as there are many logistical and operational aspects of the Competition that cannot wait until the 11th hour.

The Commercial Wine Competition volunteer page on the ocws.org website will be open in March, and you will be able to sign up at that time – your assistance is vital to our success! This event offers many opportunities: meet the winemakers and winery principals, increase your wine knowledge, and enjoy getting to know your fellow OCWS members. We understand and acknowledge that no one’s plans are definite at this time.

There are many areas where volunteer help is needed: stewarding, glass washing and drying, and computer verification. Continuing with the efficiency of the event, computer input will also be assigned. A sign-up form is included on the website that identifies stewarding days, bagging nights, and other work parties with times and dates. As in the past, in order to qualify for stewarding, we need you to sign up for two additional work parties. We can offer bagging, and moving of wine to and from the Competition site, including sorting. We will also be assigning a ribbon mailing crew.

We definitely need your support in order to run a successful Competition. The good news is that we will hire help for heavy lifting. No training is necessary, as newer members will be teamed with Competition veterans.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 562.822.3382 or email me at Strompharms@earthlink.net. We look forward to your participation in this very important OCWS event!

– Robyn Strom, Volunteer Coordinator
Commercial Wine Competition Committee

“Best of” Recipe & Wine Pairings—February 2021

What started out as an idea to create a monthly culinary column highlighting the best of OCWS Mini-Tastings’ award-winning recipes and wine pairings has now become, thanks to great interest in recipes from the Seminar Series’ wine and food presentations, a Best of OCWS Recipes and Wine Pairings. I will continue to review Mini-Tastings from the past but will now venture into Seminar pairings, and anything else from a culinary standpoint, that may appeal to our members. This is an ever-evolving column and suggestions are always welcome, so please don’t hesitate to email me at Fran@ocws.org. I would love to hear from those of you who love food and wine as much as I do, and I know there are a lot of kindred spirits out there.

There is one recipe in particular that has recently been requested time and again. It was featured in the holiday Sparkling and Sweets seminar held in December, and since I happen to love Champagne and this treat in particular, I’m publishing the recipe for this yummy dessert before the taste leaves my memory. I am usually the recipient of this dessert when asked by my daughter, Sara Yeoman, what I would like from her, as it is her recipe and is totally amazing in my book. I hope you find it as scrumptious as I do.

I find that too much chocolate paired with a dry sparkling, which is my drink of preference, leaves me with a heavy head, but a cream-based dessert fits the bill and satisfies my urge for sweets perfectly. Extra Dry, Extra Brut and Brut sparklings have a natural acidity that cuts through cheese, butter and cream and pair well with desserts such as Panna Cotta, crepes, shortbread and, my favorite, Lavender Cheesecake. I hope you will be drooling by the time you finish perusing the recipe and consider putting it on your “must try” list.



1 3/4 cups shortbread cookie crumbs

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

4 (8-ounce) bricks Neufchatel (low-fat) cream cheese, softened

1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. fresh lavender buds, finely chopped (measure first, then chop the buds)

4 eggs


2 cups heavy cream

Powdered sugar

1 Earl Grey tea bag


Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch springform pan. Crumble the shortbread cookies into crumbs and whisk with butter, salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar together in a medium bowl until combined. Press firmly onto bottom of the pan (or up the sides, if desired). Bake for 10 minutes, remove, and let cool. Reduce oven heat to 325°F .

Once the pan reaches room temperature, carefully wrap the outside of the pan in 2 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, being sure that there are NO gaps where water could seep through. Place the pan in a large roasting dish (or any pan larger than the springform) and bring a tea kettle or pot of water to boil in preparation for the water bath. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth. Add the remaining 1-1/4 cup sugar and beat for an additional minute until well blended. Add Greek yogurt, vanilla and lavender, and beat for an additional minute, stopping partway to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Do not overbeat! Pour into crust.

Place the double pans in the oven on a shelf on the bottom third of the oven. Very carefully use a tea kettle (or large measuring cup) to pour the boiling water in the larger pan to form a water bath around the springform, so that it comes up about 1-inch around the springform.

Close the oven door, and bake about 1 hour 40 min, or until center is almost set. (The center of the cake should still jiggle ever so slightly.) Turn oven off, and open oven door slightly. Let cheesecake set in oven 1 hour. Then remove cheesecake from oven, carefully run a knife around the edges of the cake, and then let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove springform rim, and top cheesecake with whipped cream just before serving. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.


To make earl grey homemade whipped cream, first bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a tea bag and steep for 4 minutes, then remove the tea bag. Refrigerate cream until cool.

You can make homemade whipped cream with a:

Stand Mixer: Make sure that your bowl and whisk attachment are nice and chilled, as well as your heavy whipping cream. That’s the main thing to remember — you want everything nice and COLD for making whipped cream. Add in your heavy whipping cream and some powdered sugar to the bowl of the mixer and whisk it together on high speed until soft to stiff peaks form, your choice.

Food Processor: Same steps, just pulse the cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form.

Blender: Same steps, just blend the cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form

Mason Jar: This one takes quite a bit more muscle. Place a mason jar (along with its lid) in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Then remove it, add the whipped cream and powdered sugar (you only want the jar about half full, since the whipped cream volume will expand), and then shake the heck out of it for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks have formed.  

Bowl + Whisk: Or of course, you can make whipped cream the truly old-fashioned way. Just grab a mixing bowl (metal, preferably, or glass) and place it in the freezer until it’s nice and chilled. Then remove it, add the whipped cream and powdered sugar, and use a large whisk to whisk the cream by hand until stiff peaks form.

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer

President’s Message

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, as we all look forward to an ending to these pandemic lockdowns that we have all endured. This past year has certainly been one to remember, and we have all been saddened by the lack of social interaction with our friends and families, and get-togethers with our Orange County Wine Society family.

The year 2021 will bring us new concerns and yet plenty of hope. The U.S. Electors have voted for Joe Biden to be our new President on January 20, 2021. The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is now rolling out, which will be the beginning of the end of the “pandemic year from …” (you know what I mean).  Hopefully our social lives will slowly return to normal, but we probably won’t get all the way there in 2021.

Over the next few months, the OCWS Board is looking at starting up more modified activities, all dependent on State, local and OCFEC guidelines. I will keep you updated when we can start to schedule in-person events.

The OCFEC is still unsure of what the 2021 OC Fair will look like. From their recent articles published in newspapers, they are looking at an option of doing an 18-day OC Fair, limited to just 30,000 visitors per day to allow for social distancing. Their decisions directly affect the OCWS, and we are following their projections as we make plans for our 2021 wine competitions and the Courtyard during the OC Fair.

The news reports project that the COVID-19 vaccine will be readily available this coming summer. We hope that as more and more people get inoculated, we may look forward to the OCFEC opening the Fairgrounds to events next autumn or winter so we can start resuming our on-site activities. Time will tell, and in this case, we hope those times come quickly. 

Stay healthy everyone, and I look forward to “seeing” you all on our virtual seminars!   

 Kevin Donnelly, President

A Look Back—Fires Tear through California’s Northern Wine Region

“Wildfires have long been a fact of life in the American West,” said Caroline Beteta, CEO of nonprofit, Visit California. It has been known that harvest season in California’s wine regions are what dream weddings are made of—ripe grapevines and colorful sunsets that provide the perfect backdrop for a wedding ceremony. 

Scientists say warmer temperatures and a lack of rain are leaving plants and trees more flammable, creating the conditions for wildfires to grow quickly and burn with more intensity, with the fire season starting earlier and ending later. Last year’s unprecedented fire season began with a siege of lightning strikes; approximately 9,000.

A small fire that began on September 27, 2020 near the town of St. Helena, pushed by fierce, unrelenting winds across Napa Valley, burned hundreds of homes and burned or destroyed scores of wineries before making its way into Sonoma. The wildfires west of Sonoma and east of Napa were blanketed in thick smoke. Several hotels and resorts were also damaged, including Calistoga Ranch and Meadowood Napa Valley, home to the Restaurant at Meadowood. One week after the Glass Fire began its violent path, it would certainly be the most destructive fire in California’s most famous wine region. More than 30 people lost their lives as a result of fires across the state. We grieve for the lives lost, the people displaced and what was lost in the fires.

Food & Wine produced a documentary titled “Embers & Vines,” featuring members of the local community reflecting on the fires while they were still burning. This approximately 8 minute documentary can be found by a Google search. If you have not viewed the documentary, I highly recommend you do so. As difficult as this clip may be to watch, understand it was important to document what was unfolding in the moment.

The Sunday before Christmas, December 20, 2020, Kevin Donnelly presented the OCWS members an hour long presentation on topics covering terroir, the four seasonal impacts on the vineyard, and effects of smoke taint. All too often a story ends when a fire is contained and media coverage moves on, and we go back to business as usual. Kevin’s presentation closed with a partial list of wineries that were burned or destroyed—it was a sobering moment. During the seminar, Kevin promised this listing would be available for the entire membership to view. Reading through the list below, you will come across many wineries that may be familiar. Remember to support the California wineries, as they have supported the Orange County Wine Society over the years.

– Linda Mihalik, Editor

Wineries burned or destroyed as of October 12, 2020:

· Barnett Family Vineyards, damaged

· Behrens Family Winery, two buildings, including its main winery destroyed

· Burgess Cellars, barrel warehouse and the original winery burned

· Cain Vineyard and Winery, main winery burned

· Castello di Amorosa, farmhouse & buildings destroyed and 120,000 bottles destroyed

· Chateau Boswell, main building destroyed

· Cornell Vineyards, lost three houses

· Dutch Henry Winery, winery burned

· Fairwinds Estate Winery, winery burned

· Fantesca Estate, lost equipment

· Flying Lady Winery, winery building and 2016 and 2017 wines destroyed

· Frey Vineyards Winery Mendocino, largely destroyed

· Hourglass Winery, winery facility and guest house were demolished

· Hunnicutt Wines, offices and the winery’s
crushpad devastated

· Juslyn Vineyards Landscaping, outbuildings and
half of the grapevines gone

· La Borgata Winery, destroyed

· Melka Estates, house burned, most of the vineyard damaged

· Mendocino Oster Cellars, largely destroyed

· Merus Winery, winery damaged

· Newton Vineyard, winery nearly entirely destroyed

· Paradise Ridge Winery Sonoma, burned down

· Phifer Pavitt Winery, home mostly burned and winery damaged

· Ritchie Creek Vineyard, winery and home burned, much of the wine inventory destroyed

· Sarocka Estate, structures burned

· School House Vineyard, one structure destroyed

· Sherwin Family Vineyards, winery burned

· Signorello Estate, completely destroyed

· Soda Rock Winery Healdsburg, consumed by fire

· Spring Mountain Vineyard, home destroyed,
vineyard seriously damaged

· Stags’ Leap Winery Napa, buildings destroyed

· Sterling Vineyards, main winery safe, equipment damaged

· Terra Valentine Winery, house burned

· White Rock Vineyards, damaged significantly,
fire consumed winery 

· York Creek Vineyard, two houses, a barn and
equipment lost

“Best of” Recipe & Wine Pairings—January 2021

The holidays are over, 2020 is, thankfully, gone, and we are beginning a new year with great hopes for a happy, well year ahead for all. As much as I thought about highlighting a “comfort food” recipe to gently ease into the new year, the more I thought about it, I thought that it’s time to change it up and bring the new year in with amazing, fresh flavors and, to put it bluntly, a kick in the a** and the taste buds.

In November of 2019, Big Reds were featured at the Mini-Tasting, with the following three wines taking the top spots:

· 1st 2015 Mount Peak Zinfandel, Rattlesnake Vineyard, Sonoma

· 2nd NV Locations CA-7, Red Blend

· 3rd 2016 Jaffurs Petite Sirah, Santa Barbara County

With winning dishes such as Dino Amico’s Chicken Scarpariello with Pickled Peppers at the Kawai home, to June and Vince Porto’s BBQ Pepper Flank Steak at the home of Judy and Bob Koeblitz; and Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs ala Mary Giedzinski at Shelly and Ed Trainor’s place to desserts such as Mary Mulcahey’s Brownies at the home of Chris and Hank Bruce and Bread Pudding ala Rich Skoczylas at John and Denise Scandura’s, it was a slam dunk for me when I got to the Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup prepared by Laurie Preus. I thought, how lucky were the attendees at Cathy and Greg Risling’s home to taste that dish with luscious red wines? I only wish I’d been there! I sat down to write this article and opened a delicious Malbec and, while salivating through this writing, thought I’m putting my hand to this recipe just as soon as possible. 

For those of you with an adventurous spirit and palette, I hope you join me in attempting this award-winning recipe to help welcome in the new year with a flair. Thanks, Laurie!

Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup

1T olive oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 small onion diced

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
3T Thai red curry paste
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk full fat

1T grated garlic

2 cups vegetable stock

1T grated fresh ginger

2T lime juice

2 stalks fresh lemongrass smashed

Cilantro chopped

1T chili garlic sauce

Pumpkin seeds

1 tsp curry powder

Salt to taste

Heat oil, add onions and sauté 5 minutes till soft. Add curry paste, garlic, fresh ginger, chili garlic sauce, curry powder, and turmeric. Mix to combine. Add smashed lemongrass, pumpkin, and stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat  and simmer 20 minutes. Add coconut milk and lime juice and salt to taste. Remove smashed lemongrass. Wait 10 minutes then transfer to blender or use immersion blender and make smooth. Garnish with chopped cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer

Shauna Rosenblum, a Legacy of Her Own

The Orange County Wine Society is greatly honored to have Shauna Rosenblum, winemaker and President of Rock Wall Wine Company, as our Virtual Winery Program presenter on January 22. As most of our members well know, Shauna comes with a history of wine in her blood as the daughter of well-loved and sorely missed veteran OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition judge, Kent Rosenblum, founder of Rosenblum Cellars. Today, Shauna heads up the Rosenblum family venture, Rock Wall, with the mission of having fun, while making the best wines from the best regions and sharing the experience with others.

Shauna, now also a veteran judge at the OCWS-run OC Fair Wine Competition, is creating her own legacy with award-winning wines such as her 2016 and 2017 Zinfandels which both garnered Gold medals at the 2019 commercial competition, followed by her 2017 Cabernet Franc, 2015 Syrah and 2015 Tannat all taking Silver.

Shauna was interviewed by Alameda Magazine in September of 2019 and has graciously consented to allow us to publish a portion of that interview for our members in our Wine Press. Following are excerpts from that interview that, interestingly and entertainingly, ask some out of the norm questions and give us a little more insight into a great winemaker’s passion and thinking:

“What’s the major difference between you and your dad’s winemaking styles?

I think my style is a little bit lighter and a little bit more restrained than my dad’s. He was definitely picking [grapes] based on ripeness and wanted to have alcohol content and maybe a little residual sugar, where what’s really important to me is the flavor in the wine, balance, and acidity. If a wine doesn’t have acidity, I don’t think it’s a successful wine. Acidity is the portion where when you put the wine in your mouth and your mouth waters. So for me, the wine has to have great aromatics. It has to be well balanced, but it has to have a really beautiful mouthfeel too.

Beer is having a huge moment. What can winemakers learn from brewmeisters?

As a lot of millennials are becoming winemakers, I feel we’re very cognizant of the fact that beer labels are a lot more fun than wine labels. So, I think my generation is really trying to make wine a little bit more casual, a little bit more approachable, and make it fun. I mean, wine is really fun.

What about canned wine? It’s out there, but are you ready to embrace it?

I think it’s a pretty genius approach to people who have active lifestyles. Millennials are all about the experience of going to the beach, or hiking, or this, that, or the other thing. It’s not always super convenient to lug a bottle of wine with you. So, I think cans are becoming really popular. I have yet to put wine in a can because I was waiting for the first generation of people putting wine in a can to figure it out. I think we’re almost there, so once the industry hits a healthy decision about canning wine, I would love to put some rosé in a can.

I remember when screw caps first came out in wine 15, 20 years ago, and people were horrified. Eventually they came around, and now Australia uses almost exclusively screw caps. All of my white wines except Chardonnay are in screw caps. It’s a convenient way to go, but the technology initially for screw caps was pretty bad. They were putting screw caps on the wine without the protective liner. Basically, people were figuring it out. So, I’m waiting for other people to figure it out so I can jump on the technology and do it right the first time.

How do you learn how to recognize notes of cinnamon, asparagus or whatever while imbibing a vintage? Is that even something the average wine drinker needs to worry about?

It’s super subjective. Basically, anything you read coming out of Rock Wall, I wrote. The tasting notes are something that are incredibly subjective because that’s what I smell and I taste in the wine that I’m making. Some people may smell and may taste those same things, but tasting is so personal, and some people don’t care at all. “Blackberry? I don’t get blackberry in this.” That’s OK. I think one of the best things going about wine tasting is you can’t be wrong. If you say, “This wine smells exactly like my grandmother’s attic,” there is nobody on Earth who can dispute that. If it smells like that to you, then that’s what it smells like.

There might be nobody on Earth who would want to drink it either. How was your palate trained?

My dad was training my palate my whole life. We would be camping in our vineyard when I was five or six years old, and we’d be roasting marshmallows. He’d grab a graham cracker and some marshmallows. We’d roast the marshmallows and put it on the graham cracker with the chocolate, and he’d say, “Smell that. That smells like an American oak barrel.” We’d put some fruit on the s’more and he’d say, “Smell that. That American oak barrel and those berries, that smells like Zinfandel.”

Just my whole life, everything was all about, “Smell this. Experience this. What does it smell like? Does it smell like fresh strawberries, strawberry jam? Does it smell like stewed strawberries? Does it smell like dehydrated strawberries?” So really deconstructing aromas in everyday life definitely informs the way we taste and interpret wine.

It is fascinating to see how some people do interpret drinking wine, and some people are like, “I don’t smell any of that, but I like the way it tastes.” That’s really all you need to know.”

As the winemaker at Rock Wall since 2008, Shauna’s wines have earned many 90+ point scores from such notable publications as Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine. She was also recognized as one of the “Top 10 Female Winemakers in California” by Haute Living in 2017 and in 2018 was recognized as one of the “40 under 40” by Diablo Magazine, as one of the “Top 10 Spirited Women in the Bay Area” and was featured in the CBS special, “Women in Wine.” If these accolades are not enough to encourage you to reserve a spot for her presentation, then I suggest, if you are not already familiar with Rock Wall wines, you place an order, do some tasting, and confirm that attending this Virtual Winery Program is a MUST.

For information regarding sign-ups, please see the Winery Webinar Program article in this issue of The Wine Press. If you have any questions, contact Rich@ocws.org.

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer

Is Wine and Cheese Good for an Aging Brain?

It appears a scientific study conducted
by Iowa State University and
published recently by Science Daily,
confirmed that what we eat may
have a direct impact on our cognitive
acuity in our later years. The
study’s findings show that cheese protects against age-related
cognitive problems, while consumption of red wine relates to
improvements in cognitive function.
We knew that! In fact, in some of our personal experience and
in the experience of all those who attended Dawn Iglesias’
Wine & Cheese Pairings Seminar last month, we can confirm
this— when pairing a glass of red wine with cheese, needless
to say, our cognitive acuity was off the charts.
We can all agree that we have had a lot of science thrown at
us recently, i.e., the pandemic and climate change, so without
further ado, we draw your attention to the article below.
Dawn’s seminar was so well received and attended that we
thought we would publish the contents from a few presentation
slides. A recording of Dawn’s seminar is also uploaded on the
OCWS website under the Webinar tab.

“Cheese is a living thing; it needs oxygen to breathe”

The Cheese & Wine Pairings Webinar which was held last month on December 13 is one of my favorite events to host, both in
person at the OC Fair Courtyard and on a virtual platform. Find below interesting tips and pairings to reference.

Cheese & Storage Tips:
• Cheese should always be served at room temperature for the best flavor.
• In general, red wines pair better with hard, stronger cheeses. White wines and sparklings with softer, creamier cheeses, but
not necessarily all of the time.
• It is always a good idea to pair a wine and cheese from the same region or origin (French cheese with a French wine, No. CA
cheese with a No. CA wine, etc.).
• Light cheeses go with light wines, heavier cheeses go with bold wines.
• Cheese should be stored in a crisper drawer that has temperature control & consistent humidity.
• If cheese is in a plastic wrap, it needs to be removed as soon as possible, and either put in another container, wrapped in
parchment paper, or in a Ziploc bag.
• Soft cheeses will last up to 2 to 3 weeks. Store soft cheeses in a long, rectangle sealed plastic/glass container. You can store
your goat, brie, and soft cheeses together.
• Hard cheeses will last up to 4 months (example: Parmesan) in a partially open Ziploc bag, to allow the cheese to breath.
• Blue cheese can affect other cheeses. Store this cheese separately, either in a container or Ziploc bag.

Dawn Iglesias, Seminar Committee Member

The Pairings:

Chardonnay &
Blanc de Blanc Champagnes:

• Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat
• Saint Angel Triple Cream
• Marin French Camembert or Brie
• Langre Fromage
• Brillat Savarin
• Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper
• Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam
Sauvignon Blanc:
• Chavroux spreadable goat cheese
• Ewenique sheep cheese
• Ewephoria sheep cheese
• Cablanca Goat Gouda
• Maytag Blue cheese
• Point Reyes Bay Blue
• Piave
Pinot Noir &
Blanc de Noir Champagnes:

• Saint Andre’ Triple Cream Brie
• Marin French Petite Breakfast Brie
• Vella Dry Jack
• Beecher’s Flagship Handmade
• Point Reyes Toma
• Tillamook White Cheddar
• Cambazola (brie & blue cheese)
• Cypress Grove Purple Haze
• BelGioioso Fontina
• The Drunken Goat
• Havarti with Dill
• Old Amsterdam Gouda
• Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar
• Blu di Bufala (buffalo milk)
• Le Gruyere Switzerland
• 12 Month Aged Manchego
• Winey Goat
• Beehive Barely Buzzed
• Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar
• Collier’s Welsh Cheddar
• Gorgonzola
Cabernet Sauvignon:
• Istara P’Tit Basque
• Isigny St. Mếre Mimolette
• Coastal British Cheddar
• Fiscalini Smoked Cheddar
• Castello Danish Blue
• Kerrygold Cashel Blue
• Saint Agur Blue