President’s Message – Gearing Up for Fair Fun!

With the Commercial and Home Wine Competitions quickly almost having been and gone, the 2022 OC Fair is fast approaching, and the OCWS is geared up to run our most important fundraising effort of the year—The Courtyard at the OC Fair. This year’s Fair theme is “Feel the Sunshine,” and runs Wednesdays through Sundays, beginning on Friday, July 15 and concluding on Sunday, August 14.

The Fair is attended by over 1,000,000 people a year, so The Courtyard clearly provides us with a perfect venue for reaching lots of people. In exchange for running the OC Fair’s wine competitions, the Orange County Fair & Events Center affords us the opportunity to run The Courtyard and realize the income therefrom. In addition to the income received from The Courtyard funding the wine competitions, it also provides funds for our year-round overhead and, by way of donations, for our Scholarship Program. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to the organization that The Courtyard be a huge success!

It takes over 300 OCWS volunteers to man The Courtyard during the Fair. Whether you are a new volunteer or a seasoned veteran at The Courtyard, this is your opportunity to support the fundraising efforts of the Orange County Wine Society. In addition to hosting The Courtyard during the OC Fair, some of our most knowledgeable and experienced OCWS members will be conducting wine seminars on Saturdays and Sundays. Check out the seminar schedule on the OCWS website and come learn something new about wines, and wine and food pairings that you may not know you don’t already know. So, if you seek fun, don’t miss coming out and feeling the sunshine with wine fun at the Fair!

I look forward to seeing you there.

– Fran Gitsham, President

Earn OC Fair Drink Tickets Redeemable at The Courtyard this Year

Help us get new wineries registered for the 2022 OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition!

On March 17, the Orange County Wine Society sent you an email entitled: “2022 OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition – Help Us Get the word out …”

Here are the easy steps for you to take to earn extra drink tickets:

  1. Forward the email mentioned above to your favorite wineries that have not signed up for the Competition before; and
  2. Make sure to blind copy Liz Corbett ( on your emails so that we can give you credit when they sign up.

If your winery enters their wines in this year’s Competition (and they are new to our Competition), you will be rewarded with additional drink tickets during the OC Fair. Your efforts will also be recognized in the OCWS Wine Press newsletter.

Thank you for supporting the OCWS and getting the word out about the OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition which is the largest competition of wines from California grown grapes.

Questions, contact Liz at the above email address.

– Liz Corbett,
2022 Commercial Wine Competition Administrator

2022 Courtyard at the OC Fair

Feel the Sunshine – July 15 through August 14

It will be time again to Feel the Sunshine at the 2022 OC Fair while helping the OCWS continue to rebound from these past few years of COVID by volunteering at our major fundraiser of the year, The Courtyard at the OC Fair.

Volunteer opportunities will be here before you know it! So, plan accordingly, as all willing hands and wonderful hearts will be needed and greatly appreciated.

  • Servers – Sign-ups open May 1 on the OCWS website
  • Managers, Stewards and Cashiers – Check your inbox (and spam folders) for invitations to sign up for these positions
  • Dates for set-up, decorating and tear-down will be announced soon

We are sure you are all wondering what this year will look like. Well, so are we!  At the writing of this article, we had been advised that we should plan on running The Courtyard the same as we did last year, which means we may only be serving wine by the glass again. However, the final determination is yet to be made by the Fair. Therefore, depending on COVID numbers and State and County guidelines as we get closer, we may, and are hopeful to, be able to have wine tastings and in-person seminars, but will not know this until a later date.

The Featured Winery Program will be returning! More details will follow as we get closer to Fair time and receive OCFEC confirmation of any parameters and restrictions at that time.

If you have any questions regarding volunteer sign-ups, please contact our Courtyard Scheduling Coordinator, Rich Skoczylas at, or reach out to me at

We look forward to seeing you at the Fair and continuing to get back to sharing fun, great laughs, and wine together in person!

– Fran Gitsham, Courtyard Committee Chair

The Courtyard at the OC Fair Returns in Style as Only the OCWS Can Do!

Just a few months ago no one knew what we would, if anything, be able to do at the Fair this year, and we had very little direction as to what COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines we would need to follow until just a few weeks before opening. Now that the 2021 Courtyard at the OC Fair is becoming a fleeting memory, thanks to the dedication and commitment of 213 members (which was 100 less volunteers at The Courtyard from previous years), and a lot of last-minute changes on the fly throughout the entire run of the Fair, The Courtyard was a resounding success!

Following a very scary and unsure financial year for the organization last year, The Courtyard bounced back in high fashion to almost equal our highest grossing year (2019) under very tenuous conditions. We had members working anywhere from as many as 33 shifts to as few as 4 shifts, and off-shift members pitching in, more often than not, when they were at the Fair to just have fun. You all know who you are, and you were terrific! We also had the behind-the-scenes Courtyard Committee members, cash verifiers, set up and tear down crews, and employees doing whatever was needed to keep the boat afloat. This year proved resoundingly that OCWS volunteers can accomplish anything they set their minds and hearts to.

Some amazing facts from this year included the sale of  28,116 glasses of Varietal Wines, 5,598 Champagne Splits, 3,951 glasses of House Wine, and 1,727 Thursday 3oz Tastes of Fair wines and, just into the beginning of the final week of the Fair, The Courtyard sold out of Govino cups after selling 3,040 Concert Specials and 499 empty Govino glasses.

Our scholarship fund realized $19,800 in donations at The Courtyard and OCWS signed up 97 new dual and single memberships, which equates to 156 new members! All which can be credited to the enthusiasm of our volunteers!

It took every one of our volunteers, no matter how large or small the task, to bring The Courtyard back at full steam and to now having provided the OCWS a great financial foundation going forward. You wore your hearts on your sleeves and worked your a**es off, and the Courtyard Committee could not be more grateful! Thank you to each and every one!

– Fran Gitsham, Courtyard Chair
and The 2021 Courtyard Committee

Best of Fair Food & Wine Pairings

After a non-existent OC Fair last year, we are all ready to get back to some live fun and, if prior years are any indication, back to having a reason to eat some incredible, fun foods that, I imagine, most of us don’t normally eat during the rest of the year. Coupled with camaraderie coming back to The Courtyard and wine from the OCWS cellar, 2021 is finally giving us something great to look forward to. With this in mind, I’ve chosen to share some past Courtyard seminar favorite pairings with you to help temp your taste buds and fuel your enthusiasm for the fare to come. Created and presented by Ed Reyes and Sara Yeoman, the Fair Food and Wine Pairing seminars presented at The Courtyard have become a fan favorite of OCWS members and Fair goers alike.

I have had the pleasure of attending several of these seminars and encourage all of you, if you want to have a fun gathering, to create these pairings at home over lots of laughs with friends.

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer

The Courtyard at the OC Fair IS returning this summer!

OC FAIR, July 16 through August 15. Volunteer sign-ups starting May 1. Detailed information coming soon.

Although slightly modified, under OC Fair rules to meet Covid guidelines at fair time, we expect fun to be had by all and hope all our volunteers consider coming back to the Courtyard to help begin bringing real life fun back to the OCWS.

The Courtyard is the center of membership events throughout a normal year and, during the OC Fair, is the site of our biggest annual fundraiser and, needless to say, having been cancelled last year, we will be working to make 2021 a huge, and much needed, success!

Alcohol Server Training for The Courtyard: To Be Rescheduled

As many of you have heard, all TIPs classes scheduled in the Admin Bldg. have been cancelled due to the OCFEC abiding by the stay-in-place order. We are working on options as it will still be a requirement to be TIPs certified. By the time this issue is available, and the air has cleared a bit, we hope to have a Plan B in the works. Thank you for your patience, and continued support of the Wine Society.

– Rochelle Randel & Marcy Ott, 2020 OCWS Courtyard Committee