In Memoriam – Christopher William Cunningham

December 19, 1949—March 4, 2018 It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of Chris Cunningham. Too often our paths cross with someone who is almost larger than life. Unfortunately, we do not know their whole story nor do we recognize their amazing attributes until they are gone. Chris, a member of […]
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Pinot Noir Mini-Tasting Recap

Over 100 members and guests attended the February 24 Mini-Tasting at six host sites. The blind tasting consisted of five flights of two wines each with wines from the Sonoma Coast, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Rita Hills, Russian River, Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands, and Willamette Valley (Oregon). The scores for the wines were very close, […]
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TIPS Training (Members Only)

The 2018 OC Fair will be here soon which means it’s time to schedule Alcohol Server Training (TIPS).  Most TIPS classes will be held during April with only a few classes in May and June. Do not wait to sign up for a class; if classes do not fill they are cancelled and you may not be […]
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Commercial Competition Volunteers Needed

Calling all volunteers! The 2018 Commercial Competition will be held Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3, and volunteers are crucial to its success! This event offers many opportunities to meet winemakers, add to your wine knowledge, and enjoy getting to know your fellow OCWS members and how our competition works. There are many tasks where […]
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President’s Wine Snips – “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the HEART” by Elizabeth Andrew

When looking for motivation for this month’s article, I came across the above quote which made me think of all the people in the organization that I have had the privilege to meet and spend time with, mostly while volunteering at one event or another, and for the amazing friendships I have found. The Wine […]
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President’s Wine Snips – A Labor of Love

February is the time that we all instinctively think of “love” in one way or another. Loves that we currently celebrate with flowers, chocolates and champagne. Loves lost that many of us raise a toast to celebrate precious memories. Loves that have never been and great dreams that they are still yet to come. Love […]
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In Memoriam: Dave Carter

Dave Carter passed away on November 27, 2017 after a long illness. He and his loving wife, Pam, joined the OCWS in 2006 and together they enjoyed participating in many OCWS events. One of Dave’s favorite events was working at the OC Fair, but he was particularly proud of taking home several ladles for his prize-winning chili […]
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President’s Wine Snips – New Year’s Resolutions

It is that time of year again when I traditionally start out with all good intentions of losing those extra 15 pounds and spending less money on frivolous things. But, with all the years of breaking those very same resolutions, I have decided to become realistic for a change—chuck it all and focus on where […]
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President’s Wine Snips – The Power Behind the Organization

I’m going to open this article with the closing paragraph and, after reading it, if you choose to read through to the end, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding as to what it takes to run this organization. The OCWS is a volunteer, non-profit educational corporation. Although volunteering is not a requirement of membership, it is most certainly encouraged to help make us a success. I ask all of you to please take a look at the 2017-2018 Director Responsibility list posted in this edition of The Wine Press and consider becoming a part in running an event this coming year. Unfortunately, over a period of time, the Board has assumed the responsibility of not only running the affairs of the organization with just a small handful of other dedicated member volunteers, but also run most of the events as well. The end. Now, I would greatly appreciate you continuing to read from what was to be the beginning of this article.

As I suspect you all know, the business of the OCWS is overseen by a Board of Directors made up of nine OCWS members who are die-hard volunteers. The only paid positions within the organization are those of the office staff, bookkeeper and Website Administrator, which are all hourly paid, part-time positions. Although the nine Directors each put in thousands of hours a year to run the engine, it’s the unsung and often unrecognized heroes of the organization that are the other hundreds of members who choose to volunteer and help run events throughout the year for whatever reason. Be it for the camaraderie, the feeling of knowing that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves or, maybe, just for the love of wine leftovers, these 400 or so volunteers are the ones to be thanked for running the entire vehicle when needed.

Take, for example, our biggest fundraiser of the year, The Courtyard at the OC Fair. In addition to a core committee group of roughly 20 people, we had 322 volunteers overall that worked any number of positions before, throughout and after the 2017 OC Fair that made The Courtyard a raging success. The OCWS is afforded the opportunity to run The Courtyard and realize the profits in order to run the Commercial Wine and Homewine Competitions on behalf of the Orange County Fair and Events Center. Now, take into consideration that preparation for the competitions, both held in the beginning of June each year and both requiring as much help to run as The Courtyard, begins almost as soon as the prior year’s competitions are complete. All run by volunteers!

Now, add into the equation our own cooking group, the Cook’s Caucus, who cater three OCWS events a year, the many pursuits of the Winemakers’ Group, the Marketing Committee, the wine sort, the wine auction, mini-tastings, monthly winery programs, Dine with Wine, the annual Spring and Fall membership events, etc., etc.  All run by volunteers!

We are an organization of almost 1,000 members, with approximately 40% of members volunteering. I’ve personally been approached more times than I care to recall with critiques of programs and events. Knowing there are lots of great ideas floating around in an organization with highly intelligent and motivated people, I would love to see those of you with new creative ideas, and the energy to help incorporate them step up to help keep the OCWS fun, informative and appealing. Your Board of Directors is here to encourage and support all efforts and is just waiting to hear from you. Please consider taking all those thoughts and ideas you’ve had and kept to yourself and put them into action.

I truly hope to hear from you. Thank you.

– Fran Gitsham, President

Northern California Devastated by Fire: Giving Back

After many, many years of being supported by hundreds of Napa and Sonoma County wineries by wine submissions to the Commercial Wine Competition, it was our chance to support them in their time of need. The Orange County Wine Society has made donations totaling $11,000 toward relief efforts for the Northern California fire victims. A donation of $5,000 has been made to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund, with another $5,000 to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. Both of these relief funds came highly recommended by several renowned winemakers who, out of the goodness of their hearts, act as Judges for the Commercial Wine Competition.

After much research, and taking into consideration numerous potential donation sites, the Board, on behalf of the OCWS, chose these two organizations to receive donations. In addition, the OCWS has donated $1,000 directly to an employee of Carol

Shelton Wines. Carol and her husband, Mitch, having also lost their home and belongings to the fires, did not look for help for themselves, but rather selflessly requested assistance for an employee, who also lost everything. Knowing Carol Shelton’s truly lovely heart, and appreciating all she has contributed to the Wine Society over the years, the OCWS could do nothing less than to help when asked.

Besides requests for donations, the common message we received from hundreds of wineries is to support those areas hit hardest by the fires by continuing to visit the wineries and purchase wines. We have been told in any number of ways that the continued support of the wine country will be a huge boost to both the local economies and to the spirit of those communities. As OCWS members and wine lovers, the Board encourages you to visit the many wineries in Northern California, make a purchase to help boost the economy of the region and the many wineries who have supported the OCWS!

– The OCWS Board of Directors