In Memoriam: Vivien Owen

Vivien Owen, a beloved member of the OCWS, sadly passed away on November 4, 2017. Her diminutive stature belied the enormous size of her generous heart and passion for giving. Vivien joined the Wine Society with her husband, Charley, the very first year of its founding, in 1978. Beginning with selling wine at the Fair each year, her passion for the organization led her to creating the displays at the Fair for many, many years and leaving a documented history of the OCWS by acting as historian until just a few years ago. She participated in just about every aspect of the organization at one time or another over the years and, most recently, enjoyed sharing her knowledge of wine and the OCWS with Fair attendees by being an OCWS Courtyard Ambassador during the OC Fair.

Vivien’s life took her on many adventures with Charley, the most loved of which was raising a beautiful family together. Vivien was blessed with her daughter, Janet, who married Paul Peal, and her son, Jack, who married Sheila Lambert. She leaves her two children, their spouses, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren with an amazing legacy.

Born in Los Angeles, Vivien held a degree in Psychology from UCLA and a Life General Elementary teaching credential. During her professional career with the Tustin School District, she taught every grade level from Kindergarten to 12th grade, as well as special education classes.

As a volunteer throughout the years, Vivien was second to none as a Girl Scout leader, holding any number of positions on PTO Boards and as President of the Tustin Area Woman’s Club, to name just a few of the many organizations and endeavors that were fortunate to have her leadership.

Vivien found a different direction to her volunteerism after having served on the OC Grand Jury for a year. She joined the Past Grand Jurors Association and subsequently was appointed to the Water Facilities Corporation of the Municipal Water District of Orange County where she served a six year term.

In 1989, Vivien was appointed to the Orange County Public Cemetery Board of Trustees to which she had many reappointments by various County Supervisors, served as Chairman of the Board six times and was still serving upon her death.

Vivien and Charley’s love for travel found them traversing California in a camper truck mostly visiting wineries and attending UCLA football games. Their camper travels within the USA found them visiting their son in Iowa and Florida, while bunking down in Elderhostels. Their cruise adventures found them going from Tahiti to Russia and back on U.S. soil in Alaska. Other adventures found Vivien joining Charley throughout his professional career in cities as exciting and diverse as London and Istanbul.

So many more details about the life of this loving, passionate, highly intelligent woman are left unsaid here. Simply saying that Vivien touched countless lives during her own with her infectious smile and loving nature says it all. Her life was a blessing to all who knew her, her memory will be a treasure and she will be missed beyond measure.

Cheers to Viv!

Winemakers Newsroom

Our 2017 grapes have finished fermentation, and we have been racking our new wines into carboys, tanks and barrels in anticipation of some fine “drink’n” next year!

Winemakers’ Group Holiday Party. Our holiday party is scheduled for Saturday, December 23, at the Eastlake Clubhouse in Yorba Linda, and this event is sold out. As a reminder to those confirmed to attend, this is a potluck, and we ask everyone attending to bring enough food to serve 10 to 12 people and a bottle of wine per person, either homemade or commercial.

2018 WineMaker Magazine Conference. We are looking forward to the WineMaker Magazine’s annual conference to be held May 17 through May 20 in San Diego. We are hoping to have a large contingent of our winemakers attend and flex our muscles as a fabulous and energetic part of the OCWS!

The program is being finalized with full details to come early this month. If you are interested in attending, contact Kevin or visit WineMaker website at www.winemakermag.com for more information.

If you have any questions, contact Kevin at Kevindonnelly@ocws.org or by phone at 714.457.7229.

– Kevin Donnelly

Cabernet Sauvignon Mini-Tasting: Recap

A total of 108 members and guests attended the November Mini-Tasting held at six host sites. The blind tasting consisted of five flights of two wines each with wines from Napa, Alexander Valley, and Paso Robles. The top three favorite wines of the six host sites were:

Placement Winery Name Year PRICE DESCRIPTION
1st Francis Ford Coppola 2015 $17.00 King Kong, Sonoma, OCWS Gold 2017
2nd Lancaster 2014 $55.00 Alexander Valley, Estate, WS 94
3rd Frank Family 2014 $55.00 Napa Valley, WS 91

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 were:

  • Hosts Barbara and Dave White: Joyce Coker for Wild Mushroom Lasagna
  • Hosts Greg and Cathy Risling: Elaine Watrous for Zuppa Tuscana
  • Hosts Virginia and Karl Kawai: Jim Burk for Braised Beef in Wine Sauce & Shirley McManus for Potato Cheese Casserole
  • Hosts Tina and BJ Fornadley: Tina Fornadley for Beef Lasagna with Pesto
  • Hosts Marcia and James Vaughan: Barbara Schneider for Overnight Glazed Short Ribs
  • Hosts Bob and Janae Unruh: Lynelle Hustrulid for Better Than Sex Dessert

Congratulations to all the winners, and a big  thank you to all the Hosts!

– Bill Redding & George Cravens, Directors

President’s Wine Snips – Those Who Came Before

As I sat down to write my first Wine Press article as President, I thought about all the things I could say to the OCWS membership over the next 12 months. I could easily recap events that have just taken place, or I could highlight upcoming events. These are things that, if you read this newsletter every month, each Chair of these gatherings is sharing with you in their articles with far more interesting detail than I can. I also thought about all the questions I have been asked as a Director over the past five years and realized that I have been given a platform to tell you things about the organization and the people involved that you otherwise might not know and, just maybe, answer some of those questions that have crossed your mind at one time or another.

As the incoming President of the OCWS, I would be remiss if I didn’t use this first article to pay homage to those who came before me and set the tone for this amazing organization. After being a member for 17 years and a Director for the past five, I thought I knew a lot about the OCWS. After studying the list of Presidents beginning in 1978, I realized the one thing I didn’t know as well as I could is the history and commitment of the 24 people who served as President before me. Many of them served multiple terms, and through their encouragement and kindness, have held my hand and heart on my journey to the presidency.


With that being said, we honored one of those individuals at our recent Annual Business Meeting with the designation of President Emeritus. The title denotes the perpetual status of an individual who has helped move the organization to new heights as a former key member on the Board of Directors. In this case, as President an unprecedented four terms (2000-01, 2002-03, 2008-09, 2013-14), with none of those terms consecutive. This year Dennis Esslinger joined the ranks of just a few who have garnered the President Emeritus title. He joins a small, elite group of past Presidents who not only gave their time and effort over a number of years, but continue to do so and for that I, for one, am grateful.

The other eight Presidents Emeriti are Jim Graver (1978-79), Lora Howard (1995-96), Bob Trout (1996-97), Charley Owen (1997-98), John Goodnight (1999-2000), David Hirstein (2001-02), Larry Graham (2005-06, 2006-07), and Leslie Brown (2009-10, 2010-11). I want to thank these people, along with the other past Presidents for laying the foundation of the OCWS. I can only hope to continue in their footsteps and do good for the organization this next year. When your paths cross with theirs, please thank them for their commitment and hard work in bringing us to where we are today.

My heartfelt thanks go to the current Board of Directors for electing me to this office and having the confidence in me to lead the organization for the next Board year.

BOD 2018

In closing, if there is anything you would like to see answered in this column over the next several months, please email me at Fran@ocws.org. I can’t promise everything will be addressed in this column, but I will do my best to answer everything asked of me in one way or another.

– Fran Gitsham, President

Scholarship Thank you

Thank You For Your Generosity
September 25th, 2017
Orange County Wine Society
P.O. Box 11059
Costa Mesa CA 92627Dear Orange County Wine Society,

I am writing to thank you for your generous $1200.00 CPS Orange County Wine Society scholarship. I was overwhelmed with joy and extremely appreciative to learn that I was selected as the recipient of your scholarship. Receiving this scholarship was particularly special to me because of the nine years I spent working and living in Orange County, which is one of my favorite places in the world. I decided to go to college at age 29 after falling in love with wine during my career in the restaurant industry in the OC.
I am a Wine and Viticulture major with an emphasis in enology. I plan to pursue a career in the wine industry upon graduating from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. I am currently a senior working on my last quarter, and plan to graduate in the fall of 2017. After graduation, I will be looking to travel to the Southern Hemisphere to work harvest and then be moving to Sonoma County to find employment in the wine industry. Thanks to you, I am one step closer to that goal.
By awarding me the CPS Orange County Wine Society scholarship, you have lightened my financial burden which allows me to focus more on my studies. Over the last four years I have been in school full time, while working in restaurants part-time to pay for school and all other regular expenses. Your generosity will help me as I work towards my goal of graduating this fall Summa Cum Laude. It has also inspired me to help others and give back to the community, because without the help of generous people and organizations, like the Orange County Wine Society, I would not have been able to achieve my goals. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.


Robert J. Huff

2017 President’s Award

At the Annual Business Meeting last month, Jim Beard awarded the 2017 President’s Award to Ken and Irene Scott. As many of you know, the President’s Award honors and recognizes those members for their exceptional contribution and dedication to the OCWS.

Both members for a number of years, Ken and Irene are passionate in supporting the various initiatives of the OCWS. They consistently contribute their expertise, knowledge and talent to many events and committees doubling the benefit to the OCWS.

As members of the Marketing Committee, Ken and Irene helped develop a marketing strategy promoting the mission and message of the OCWS. Their best practice approach made a significant impact in implementing a fresh approach toward brand recognition by updating materials and information provided to California wineries in connection with the Commercial Wine Competition. The brochures and other marketing materials they created carried that same brand identity into the Homewine Competition and the Winecompetition.com website.

This year, as members of the Commercial Wine Competition, they co-chaired the Volunteer subcommittee coordinating hundreds of workforce volunteers in various roles and schedules during the wine competition – no easy feat as both spent hundreds of hours making sure that everything ran smoothly, and they worked tirelessly at the Competition and behind the scenes.

Congratulations to Ken and Irene on receiving the 2017 President’s Award. This year’s award is in the hands of the most deserving and worthy candidates!

Announcing the 2017-2018 OCWS Board of Directors

Brian McDonald, Bill Redding and Ken Scott were elected by a majority vote of the OCWS Board members held on September 6 as provided under Article 4, Section 4.6 of the current Bylaws. Section 4.6 allows the Board to suspend the election and declare the candidates elected at the Annual Business Meeting if the number of candidates is equal to or less than the number of Director positions to be filled. By resolution, the Board took such action on said date.

During the Board of Directors meeting held on September 18, the 2017-2018 Board members  Jim Beard, George Cravens, Fran Gitsham, Brian McDonald, Terry McLean, Bill Redding, Ken Scott, Rich Skoczylas and Stacey Taylor elected the following Officers for the 2017-2018 Board year:

Fran Gitsham — President, 

Bill Redding — Vice President,

Brian McDonald —Treasurer, 

Rich Skoczylas — Secretary

Next time your paths cross, please congratulate and welcome them to their new positions as well as Ken Scott, as a newly elected Director.

– Jim Beard, Past President

2017 Courtyard Breaks All Records

The 2017 OC Fair, although now just a memory, is still very fresh in the minds and hearts of the 316 OCWS volunteers whose dedication and enthusiasm made this year’s Courtyard the most successful in OCWS history! With over 1,440 shifts worked at The Courtyard during the Fair, and thousands of hours spent behind the scenes before and after, this year found us smashing records from previous years. The Courtyard grossed the largest income in OCWS history.

The Orange County Fair & Event Center allowed us to partner with them to run both the Commercial and Home Wine Competitions and also gave us the opportunity to run The Courtyard. Income generated from The Courtyard has paid for both competitions and will cover OCWS’ overhead for the following year. Generous donations made by the general public contributed significantly to our Scholarship Fund.

Aside from The Courtyard requiring a lot of hard work and dedication, there’s always the fun factor. Here are some fun facts from this year:

  • Varietal Wines Sold: 17,536 glasses
  • Red & White Cellar Specials Sold: 9,302 glasses
  • Champagne Splits Sold: 4,439 bottles
  • Award Tastes Sold: 13,179
  • GoVino Glasses Sold: 3,870
  • The Express Bar: 5,977 transactions
  • Top 4 pm to 9 pm shift transactions: Saturday, July 15, 1066 transactions within 5 hours, or 213 transaction per hour, or 4 per minute
  • Largest credit card shift transactions: 4 pm to 8 pm, Saturday, August 12, 139 transactions within 4 hours, or 1 every 2 minutes
  • Largest credit card shift: 4 pm to 8 pm, Wednesday, August 9, totaling $2,366
  • Most shift transactions: 4 pm to 8 pm, Saturday, August 12, 447 transactions, or 1 every 31 seconds
  • Largest Scholarship Donation Day: Saturday, July 15, $1,320 in donations

The success of The Courtyard is due in no small part to all OCWS volunteers who manned or maintained The Courtyard in any number of capacities, or by simply lending moral support. It took each and every one of our volunteers to make The Courtyard a success and provide the OCWS with a fabulous financial foundation going into the next year.

Thank you to each and every one of our volunteers!

– Fran Gitsham, Brian McDonald & Lloyd Corbett
The Courtyard Co-Chairs

Making It Happen: Featured Winery Program

From conception to execution, Lloyd Corbett made it happen. Lloyd organized the highly successful Featured Winery Program held at The Courtyard during the OC Fair this year. He extended invitations to those wineries who support the OCWS and entered the 2017 Commercial Wine Competition.

The Express Bar, located within The Courtyard, was set up from noon to 4 pm. At this dedicated location, owners and/or winemakers were able to provide tastings or pour full glasses of their currently featured wines, share their winery history, and offer wine club memberships. The participating wineries also had the opportunity to meet OCWS members and its customers.

The OCWS had the pleasure and honor of hosting the following wineries:

  • Greg and Pamela Martin of Seven Angels Cellars in Paso Robles. Seven Angels Cellars made a second appearance.
  • Curt and Kate Dubost of Dubost Winery in Paso Robles
  • Phil Kaplan of Velvet Bee Winery in Santa Ynez Valley
  • Doug, Debbie and Joseph Wiens of Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula and Orange Coast Winery in Newport Beach
  • Michael Cox of Dark Star Cellars in Paso Robles

We extend our heartfelt thank you to all of the wineries that participated in our Featured Winery Program this year. A special note of appreciation is also extended to these participating wineries for providing additional wine for our use behind the service bar, for special events in The Courtyard during the OC Fair and for our Wine Wall (with proceeds going to our Scholarship Fund).

Due to the tremendous success of this year’s Featured Winery Program, we plan to present this new program again next year and add more guest wineries to our lineup, elevating The Courtyard experience for everyone.

If any member has a favorite winery you would like to see participate in our Featured Winery Program next year, please have them contact Lloyd and Liz Corbett at Lloyd@ocws.org or Liz@ocws.org.

– Liz Corbett, Director

OCWS Board of Directors Elections: Last Call. Don’t Wait. Declare.

See BOD Candidate Statements

Declare early and take advantage of the opportunity to introduce yourself to the OCWS members volunteering at The Courtyard during the Fair! The Courtyard offers a unique venue for members to gather before and after shifts or to simply stop in and enjoy a glass of wine. Take advantage of getting some valuable “face time” with members to discuss your qualifications and desire to be considered for the Board.

Declare now, don’t wait until the filing deadline. Put yourself in front of your photo and written statement in an informal, relaxed and friendly setting.

Commitment. The overall time commitment for a member of the Board of Director varies, based on assignments and participation. All Board Members are expected to attend the monthly Board Meetings. Board members are also expected to organize or act as liaison for certain events and projects as assigned by the President. These responsibilities will generally require several hours per month of your time. Additionally, Board Members are expected to attend as many OCWS events as possible and are granted free attendance at most events for their participation.

Skills and experience a candidate should possess, but not be limited to, are:Elections

  • A general knowledge of OCWS events and activities
  • Experience as a volunteer in some events; involvement with event committees
  • The ability and time to organize events during the year
  • Experience in selected events and budget management
  • Be a member in good standing

Submission and Deadline. To declare your candidacy for a position on the Board, the candidate must present their Declaration of Candidacy in writing, by mail or via electronic media to the Election Chair no later than fourteen (14) calendar days prior to the scheduled Annual Business Meeting. The last date to declare candidacy for this year’s election is the hard date of Friday, August 25, 2017.

During the Annual Business Meeting, you will have the opportunity to speak to the membership and present your qualifications. A written Statement of Qualifications must be presented to the Election Committee no later than five (5) calendar days after your Declaration of Candidacy.

Questions, Reach Out. If being an OCWS leader interests you, feel free to contact Greg Hagadorn with any questions related to Director responsibilities, the election process or other matters related to the election. Greg can be reached at 714.388.8803 or at Greg@ocws.org. Involvement as a Director of the OCWS can be both personally and professionally rewarding.

Candidate Statements. As candidates declare their candidacy in accordance with election protocols, their photo and statement will be uploaded on to the OCWS website for your review and consideration. BOD Candidate Statements can be accessed on the OCWS website either at About>Our Organization or at the link on the landing page at ocws.org. Please be sure to visit the site frequently.

– Greg Hagadorn, 2017 Election Chair