Commercial Competition

2021 Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition Recap

The 45th OC Fair Wine Competition was held June 5-6 at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa. After having to cancel the 44th Competition due to the pandemic, the Committee was not certain we would be able to hold this year’s event. We were notified in late March that the Fair had decided that the Event could go forward. The Committee had approximately nine weeks to plan, advertise, promote, obtain and catalog wines for the event. This was a monumental task, and there is no way it could have occurred without the hard work of the Committee, as well as many other OCWS members.

The Committee deserves credit for working diligently and under difficult conditions to ensure that the event was a success. Virtual meetings, COVID-19 mitigations and a shortened timeline were all obstacles to be overcome. The Committee did an excellent job. Each committee member went above and beyond in their efforts this year.

During the weekend, we remembered two of our members and one judge who sadly are no longer with us.

Dennis Esslinger served as Director of Judges for several years, and Bob Trout led the Label Competition. Both worked closely with their wives, Carol and Marj, who continued to volunteer this year.

We also remembered Don Galleano who sadly passed away June 2. His wines won two Double Gold awards this year—a fitting tribute.

Many other OCWS members were instrumental in making this year’s event a reality.

An impressive 1,400 phone calls were made by volunteers to wineries to personally request that they enter the Competition. Without these phone calls, we would not have had a sufficient number of entries to hold the event. Thank you to all of our members who made these calls—they were invaluable.

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped Liz and Lloyd Corbett with cataloging over 2,440 wines in such a brief period of time.

Of course, a major thank you to all the volunteers who worked the event, a task made more daunting due to mask-wearing and other COVID-19 mitigations.

I would also like to thank the computer entry and verifying people working with Dave Stancil who came in early on Sunday morning of the Competition weekend to catch up due to an internet issue on Saturday. And another “thank you” to Dave for doing computer entry during the Steering Committee meeting following the Competition.

Integral to the success of the event are our judges, all winemakers or winery principals. They agreed to judge even as conditions were uncertain. We are very fortunate that Orange County was in the yellow tier which allowed more flexibility for the venue and more confidence in being together in groups.

It was a pleasure to work with the staff at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa. They know our event and were extremely accommodating in working with us.

I would love to list the names of everyone who made the weekend a success, but this article is way too long as it is. Please know that your efforts are appreciated, and I cannot express my gratitude enough.

All 2021 Commercial Wine Competition results can be accessed on WineCompetition.com.

– Leslie Brown, 2021 Commercial Wine Competition Chair

Annual Wine Label Competition Results

For any members who were at the Commercial Wine Competition the weekend of June 5 and 6, it is hoped you participated and enjoyed the Annual Wine Label Competition. We judged up to 10 labels in each of 12 categories. All participants voted on their favorite labels, and now the winners can be revealed. From the Gold Medal winners, the Label Committee selected a Best of Show. The Label Committee will present a display at the OC Fair similar to prior years with pictures of the labels. Best of Show winner is voted by members of the Label Committee from the Gold Medal winners. RB Cellars from Thematic Category Labels include:

2019

 

Roussane, Lake County         2013 Zinfandel, Napa Valley          Bourdeaux Style Blend, Napa Valley           Methode Champemoise, Lodi

Gold Medal winners by Category, voted on by all present for 2021 OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition:

  • Architecture/Scenery: Catalina View, 2017 Chardonnay, Paso Robles
  • Best Use of Color: Macchia, 2019 Notorious
  • Bottle Display: Carol Shelton, 2019 Wild Thing Rendezvous Rose
  • Contemporary: Allen Hancock College Winery, 2019 White Wine
  • Fauna: Mira Laguna, 2018 Drift
  • Figurative: Kelsey See Canyon, 2020 Orange Muscat
  • Flora: Aloria, 2018 Syrah/Grenache
  • Lettering/Caligraphy: Harney Lane, Petite Sirah, Lodi
  • Name Representation: Big Nose, 2018 Meritage
  • Special Effects: Ron Noble, 2018 Chardonnay, Steiner Vineyard
  • Thematic: Tie: RB Cellars and Second Line Wines
  • Whimsical: Lost Hog, 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County

– Sam Puzzo, Label Competition Chair

Graber Olive House, a Valued Supporter of the OCWS

The Orange County 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, and this year was no different.

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 Olive House is located in quiet, serene surroundings. Visitors will be delighted to discover a bit of early California when they visit. Graber Olive House is located at 215 East Fourth Street, Ontario, CA 91764.

Judges with Hearts of Gold

All of our OC Fair Commercial Competition judges have huge hearts, but there are always a handful whose love and support of the OCWS goes above and beyond. This year six judges donated their stipends back to the OCWS as contributions to our scholarship fund. Thanks to the following judges, our scholarship fund now has an additional $1,800.00 to grant to students in the future.

  • Joseph S. Franzia, Forest Glen Winery
  • Linda McWilliams, San Pasqual Winery
  • Joel Peterson, Once and Future Wines
  • Oscar Ramos, Ramos Torres Wines
  • H. Marty Spate, O’Neill Vintners & Distillers
  • Fred Wiebel, Weibel Family Vineyards & Winery

Should you have the good fortune to cross paths with any of these amazing people, please remember to thank them for their kindness and generosity on behalf of the OCWS.

– Fran Gitsham, Commercial Wine Competition Committee

2021 Commercial Wine Competition Volunteers Needed

The Commercial Wine Competition Committee is continuing to move forward with the planning of the 2021 Commercial Wine Competition. It is scheduled for the weekend of June 5-6, 2021. Of course, our volunteers are critical to its success!

We understand there is still uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic and we are working with the OC Fair and Event Center Administration, taking the necessary steps to prioritize the safety of all of our members. We want you to know that concern for our volunteers is at the forefront. We are developing plans to adhere to and follow all guidelines, rules and regulations as set forth by the national, state, and local government and health departments. 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.

This event offers many opportunities: meet the winemakers and winery principals, increase your wine knowledge, enjoy getting to know your fellow OCWS members, and experience some great California wines. There are many tasks where volunteer help is needed: stewarding, glass washing and drying, verification of scores and computer input. No training is necessary as newer volunteers will be teamed with experienced competition volunteers.

All volunteer sign-ups are now done online! The volunteer site identifies bagging nights, stewarding days, and other work tasks with dates and times. In order to qualify for stewarding, you will need to sign up for two additional work parties. We offer bagging, hotel setup, and moving of wine to and from the competition site. In addition, volunteers can elect to work the sorting and medal mailing crews in late June.

An email announcement will be sent late March notifying members when sign-ups begin. Please make sure your email address is up to date in the ocws.org website as we will be using your email to send you confirmations. If you have questions about volunteering, please email us at Robyn@ocws.org. We look forward to your participation in this very important event! 

– Robyn & Dean Strom, Volunteer Coordinators
Commercial Wine Competition Committee

Commercial Wine Competition Volunteers Needed

The 2020 Competition has been cancelled due to Covid19.
We’ll be back in 2021 bigger and better.

Calling all volunteers! This year the 2020 Commercial Wine Competition will be held Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31 and volunteers are crucial to its success! Please note the date change this year and save the date! This event offers many opportunities to enjoy getting to know your fellow OCWS members and experience some great California wines.

There are many tasks where volunteer help is needed including stewarding, glass drying, and computer input and verification of scores. No training is necessary as newer volunteers will be teamed with experienced competition volunteers.

All volunteer sign-ups are now done online! The volunteer site identifies bagging nights, stewarding days, and other work tasks with dates and times. In order to qualify for stewarding, you will need to sign up for two additional work tasks. We can offer bagging, hotel setup, and moving of wine to and from the competition site. In addition, volunteers can elect to work the sorting event in June. An email announcement will be sent late March notifying members when sign-ups begin. Please make sure your email address is up-to-date on the ocws.org website as we will be using your email to send you confirmations.

If you have questions about volunteering, please email us at: Ken@ocws.org or Irene@ocws.org. We look forward to your participation in this very important event!

– Ken & Irene Scott, Volunteer Coordinators

Hotel Reservations: Commercial Wine Competition

If you plan on staying at the Costa Mesa Hilton Hotel for the weekend of the Commercial Wine Competition, please make reservations no later than May 15, 2020. The OCWS has booked a block of rooms for OCWS members at a discounted rate, and this rate is guaranteed only until that date. The special rate does not require advance payment and is $145 per night, plus $14 per night parking. If you want to stay on the 7th floor Executive Level, the rate is $180.  Reservations can be made by phone at 714.540.7000 or online at Booking Link: http://group.hilton.com/ocws2020winecomp; be sure to mention the discount code “OCWS 2020 Wine Competition” to receive the above rates.

– Bill Redding

Results are In: Commercial Wine Label Competition

The 2019 Commercial Wine Label Competition has completed its review of many new wine labels. The Winner of the Best of Show is a label from the 1849 Wine Company called “Triumph,” a 2015 Red Wine Blend wine. All of the 1849 Wine Company wines feature artist created labels that got the attention of the Label Committee. To see other designs of their labels, please visit their website at 1849wine.com and read about the artist who created them named “Saber.”

The Commercial Label Competition has been an integral part of the OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition for over 15 years. A committee led by long-time members, Karl Tani and Carol Miura, reviewed labels submitted by wineries with their entries or, new this year, labels entered on competition websites used by the OCWS. Out of the many hundreds of labels available for review, the Label Committee narrowed the selection to a group of 12 to 15 finalists in 12 Categories from Architecture to Whimsical, which included a full bottle display for labels that may be screen-printed or otherwise will not show well if separated from the bottle. The Committee then selects up to 10 wines for display at the Commercial Wine Competition. Judges, volunteers, and other guests vote on a favorite in each category. Based on the most votes received, Gold, Silver and Bronze winners are chosen. From the group of Gold Medal winners, the Best of Show is then voted on by the Label Committee.

New procedures were started this year, and it was very gratifying on how wineries reacted when we phoned them to advise they were finalists. We try to use original wine labels if at all possible. But if unable to obtain them, we use the digital image from competition websites. Phone calls are placed to any finalist winery for whom we only have digital copies to try and secure originals.

The Label Committee thanks all the Commercial Wine Competition Judges and OCWS volunteers for their votes and enthusiasm, as well as the many wonderful comments about this year’s labels.

– Sam Puzzo,
Chair, The Label Committee

2019 Commercial Wine Competition Volunteer Opportunities

Now that the holidays are over, it is time to begin planning for the Commercial Wine Competition. This event requires an enormous amount of volunteer time. There are volunteer opportunities in many areas; some involve more time than others. This article will outline some of those positions to help members decide on their involvement.

Are you interested in learning how we processed the 2,708 entries received last year for the 2018 Commercial Wine Competition? Do you have a desire to work with others on this organizational process? Sign up for the cataloging duties or the data entry duties beginning Tuesday, January 8 with the Building 15 cleanup work party.

Cataloging will be scheduled days and evenings (if volunteers are available) to more easily fit into your schedules. You will help unload wines, place them on tables, identify them in our database of entries, and assign them each a separate designation based on varietal and number of entry, i.e. Pinot Noir is PN23. This bottle is then labeled and placed in the Pinot Noir box. You will be working with other volunteers experienced in the cataloging procedures and data entry process.

If you have an interest in joining the cataloging team, please contact Liz Corbett with your questions and contact information for the 2019 Competition scheduling. Contact Liz at liz@ocws.org or at 714.342.6652.

Even though it is only January, please save the dates. The Competition will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2. As always, it is the vast number of volunteers that make this event successful. Ken and Irene Scott will be filling positions such as computer score/verification, stewarding, kitchen help, glass dryers, and traffic control. In addition, bagging and sorting the wine will run from Tuesday, May 28 through Thursday, May 30. Volunteer signup information will follow in the next few months.

– Leslie Brown, Chair, Commercial Wine Competition