Members Corner

President’s Message

Thank you to all of our Orange County Wine Society members who sent in their electronic votes for the Board of Directors this past month. The new electronic election was flawless, and I want to congratulate both Carolyn Christian and Fred Heinecke as they join me in our 2020-2021 Board term. I am honored to […]
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“As Long as We Make it With Love”

I had the honor and distinct pleasure to interview the brave and dynamic team of Roger and Janice Mattar and Doris and John Severs, winemakers and owners of Big Nose Family Winery who, this month, will be presenting their wines to the OCWS membership via our Virtual Winery Program.

I call them brave, as they took the leap from being OCWS Winemakers’ Group amateur winemakers to commercial winemakers, and I call them dynamic in that their commercial debut entries in 2019 to the OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition garnered the highest awards, that of Double Gold, for both wines entered, not a small feat by any standards.

Upon the start of the interview, it was clear to me that the heartfelt emotion emanating from Big Nose’s four principals in tandem and their personal relationships with each other are why they were a major hit right out of the gate. “You should do whatever you’re passionate about and wherever your heart takes you, as long as you do it with love” and “You need good grapes to make good quality wine,” they said. Clearly a winning combination for them and for those who have had the pleasure of tasting their wines.

When asked how they got involved in making wine, they relayed a story about a trip to Napa in 2011, meeting a home winemaker and, as they said “after quite a bit of drinking great wines,” thought, “why not try it?” Roger, Big Nose’s primary winemaker, upon return home to Orange County and some research, discovered the Orange County Wine Society and a passion was born. They had never made wine before joining the OCWS and being mentored by long-time home winemakers.

Now only two years in commercial business, and as with many other winemakers, this quartet is still working paying jobs (often more than one at a time), to sustain Big Nose, with hopes Big Nose will sustain them in the future, while fulfilling their dreams. Sadly, they, like so many others, have been impacted by COVID-19. They said that, with hopes of moving “toward a tasting room and the whole nine yards, COVID-19 back peddled us. We had to stop knocking on doors, doing small events, and gathering our wine club members together for fun times, which we love. We’ve had to adapt and work in the atmosphere and society we’re in right now.”

With a number of wine varietals currently in their repertoire, they are moving forward with love, laughter and the strong conviction to continue making quality wines and the necessity for their wines to be “free from defects, well balanced, and enjoyable to drink and share with others.” 

To learn more about Big Nose Family Winery and their amazing ownership team, check out their video interview with Sara Yeoman, OCWS Vice President, on the OCWS Facebook and Twitter pages. Don’t forget to reserve a space for the OCWS Virtual Winery Program on November 20 featuring Big Nose Family Winery.

– Fran Gitsham, Contributing Writer

40 Years of OCWS Scholarships

Our members have been pleased to learn about the scholarship colleges and universities the OCWS has supported since 1981, beginning with two colleges. Benefits of OCWS membership include the enjoyment of knowing about our contributions to the students in the educational world of campus agriculture, business and research, and their appreciation of our generosity. This […]
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In Recognition and Appreciation of the OCWS Volunteers

While our most volunteer-intensive events weren’t held this year, there were still a number of members who put in significant time helping plan and run the events that we did have. As the organization has only part-time employees, it relies on our volunteers for everything from guiding and managing our organization to planning and running our events. Most volunteer work is done “behind the scenes” and unnoticed by many.

In recognition of the hours of service, the Wine Society rewards its volunteers with gift certificates redeemable for admission to OCWS events.

Thank you to the following volunteers for their efforts during the 2019-2020 Board year. Our volunteers make this the successful organization that it is. We encourage you to get involved. It is a great way to see how the OCWS works and meet new friends. NOTE: The volunteer coupons will be posted to each member’s account by the end of September, and can be used for events through the end of September 2021. The Board has also agreed to extend the expiration of unused volunteer coupons from 2018-2019 so they will be useable for events through the end of September 2021.

– George Cravens, Volunteer Recognition Chair

Award Coupon Recipients
$50 Discount
Coupon
$25 Discount Coupon$10 Discount Coupon
Leslie Brown
Chris & Hank Bruce
Carolyn Christian
Liz & Lloyd Corbett
Kevin Coy
Kevin Donnelly
Bill Forsch
Fran Gitsham
Terry McLean
Betty Jo & Jay Newell
Karyl Newton
Bruce & Jeannine Powers
Rochelle Randel
Ed Reyes
Germaine & Rob Romano
Peter Schlundt Bodien
Stacey Taylor
Barb & Dave White
Lynda Edwards
Carol Esslinger
Jane Goodnight
Larry Graham
Greg Hagadorn
Dawn Iglesias
Virginia Kawai
Jim Kerins
Linda McLean
Irene Scott
Dave & Tami Stancil
Richard Ward
Dave Wiegand
 

Damian Christian
Michael Del Medico
Jerry Guerin
Shelly Jayne
Karl Kawai
Ken Knapp
John Lane
Kevin Lite
Sam Puzzo
Dana Rutledge
Bob Topham
 
$50 Discount Coupon
Leslie Brown
Chris & Hank Bruce
Carolyn Christian
Liz & Lloyd Corbett
Kevin Coy
Kevin Donnelly
Bill Forsch
Fran Gitsham
Terry McLean
Betty Jo & Jay Newell
Karyl Newton
Bruce & Jeannine Powers
Rochelle Randel
Ed Reyes
Germaine & Rob Romano
Peter Schlundt Bodien
Stacey Taylor
Barb & Dave White

President’s Message

It is my sincere hope that everyone is staying safe, staying busy, and drinking great wines!

I am pleased to report that at the August BOD meeting, it was unanimously approved to extend all memberships an additional four months. 

In last month’s issue of The Wine Press, I highlighted some of our virtual seminar offerings. We hope you have enjoyed the offerings during July and August which have been produced by our members: Ed Reyes, Carolyn Christian, Ken Knapp, Sara Yeoman, and Kevin Donnelly. Thank you all for such an outstanding job!

If you missed attending a virtual seminar, they have been uploaded on our website, and you can locate them after signing in and clicking Zoom Seminars. Simply locate the seminar you missed, click on the name of the seminar, and watch the ones you missed . . . or watch them again!

The OCWS Winery Program is also making plans to conduct programs virtually. On September 20, we will be featuring ZD Wines. More details are provided in this month’s newsletter. Thanks to Rich Skoczylas and Leslie Hodowanec for your efforts. 

I am very pleased to see that as I am writing this article we have five members who have submitted their intent to run for the Board of Directors. You can find their candidate statements on our website.

The candidates will also be providing a brief statement at the “Annual Business Meeting” as required per Article 6 of our By-laws. The 2020 Annual Business Meeting will be held on Friday, September 11. Due to gathering restrictions currently in place, the meeting will be held “virtually.” The announcement for signups for this meeting was sent out via email and posted on the ocws.org website. As a reminder, for those with a dual membership only one individual needs to sign up to attend this meeting. 

According to our By-laws, the Board of Director election must be held three weeks from the Annual Business Meeting. This year, we will be conducting the election electronically. A ballot will be sent out to members after the September 11 meeting.

Please be sure to update your email address to a current and valid email address using the edit profile feature on the OCWS website. More information on the electronic voting process and what you can expect can be found under the Electronic Voting article contained in this newsletter.

Cheers,

 Bill Redding, President

2020 OCWS Virtual Annual Business Meeting

As we have anticipated to be the case, the 2020 OCWS Annual Business Meeting will take place in a virtual Zoom platform this year. The Annual Business Meeting will take place on Friday, September 11, beginning promptly at 7 pm and lasting approximately one hour. There is no limitation on the number of members who may attend; however, the meeting is strictly for members only. Sign-up for the Annual Business Meeting will be available through the OCWS website or by “email invitation” utilizing Constant Contact. To accommodate all OCWS members, please remember sign-ups should be limited to a single household.

This is the most important member meeting of the OCWS year. The Agenda will offer an overview of the year’s activities, the financial summary of the 2019/2020 Board year, and looking ahead in these unprecedented times.

Speakers scheduled to present will be: Bill Redding, President; Mel Jay, Treasurer; Charles English, OCWS Accountant; Kevin Donnelly, Winemakers’ Group Chair; and Greg Hagadorn, 2020 Election Chair.

After the presentation, Greg will introduce the individuals who have declared their Board candidacy. Each candidate will have a brief opportunity to introduce themselves and present their interests and objectives for the next Board term – 2020-2023.

Member attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions through the “chat” option on the Zoom platform. At the end of the presentation, all member questions will be directed to the presenters to read and answer.

The 2019/2020 OCWS Board of Directors look forward to seeing you as we review our 44th year and look forward to the 2020/2021 calendar year.

The meeting is conducted in accordance with OCWS Bylaws and government regulations for 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

– Bill Redding, President

Welcome to Zoom, the OCWS Alternative Event Platform

After COVID-19 made the outside world taboo, the OCWS adopted to interacting with members through computer screens. COVID has forced us to shift how we operate and interact in just a small window. During the month of July, we introduced the Summer Sundays Seminar series. Many members have expressed their interest in these web-based events and logged in without issue, some having never logged into a video platform before. We thought we would use this space to introduce Zoom to our membership.

How does a Zoom event work? Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop or mobile application that allows users to meet online, with or without video. Zoom users can choose to record sessions, collaborate on projects, and share or annotate on one another’s screens, all with one easy-to-use platform.

The Wine Society has for quite some time used Constant Contact to e-blast messages to OCWS members throughout the month reminding members of events close to selling out and other important member information that needs immediate attention.

During the Summer Sundays Seminar series, Sara Yeoman Director, and host of these events, initiates an e-blast informing members of an upcoming seminar on Monday mornings. The eblast identifies the seminar event, date and time, and shows a “green” sign up bar (link) for members to click and fill out. Once you have filled out the information, an email confirming your attendance will be sent to you from Zoom—please be sure to check your junk/spam folders if you didn’t receive a confirmation email. Later in the week, you will receive another email providing you with everything you need to know about the event and how to access the Zoom event with a “Click Here to Join” link. It also provides a password, which is unique to you so that the event cannot be accessed by others—it is member specific. Members also have the option of using a landline or cell phone to dial in to the event using the dial in numbers shown, the webinar identification number, and password. If this option is selected (not using your computer), you will not be able to view any presentations—you will only be able to listen to the audio of the event taking place.

Remember, you do not have to have a Zoom account to attend, you will be prompted to download the software once you click the link you have been provided utilizing your personal computer.

For demonstration purposes only, below is a screen shot of how to join the event, which will be located midway in each seminar registration email. Each registration email will be different, so please do not rely on the password contained below:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by emailing us at Seminars@ocws.org. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have or walk you through the process before the event.

– Sara Yeoman, Director

In Memoriam: Dennis Esslinger

The OCWS has lost one of its most significant members, Dennis Esslinger, due to cancer and unrelated to the COVID pandemic. In 2017 during the Annual Business Meeting, Jim Beard, then President, awarded Dennis the highest award an OCWS President can bestow, the President Emeritus Award. Past President, Fran Gitsham, eloquently stated in 2017 that the President Emeritus 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 . . . 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 continues to do so.”

As a recipient of the highest level year end awards, along with his wife Carol who worked with him side by side, Dennis passed away Monday, July 6, at his home.

Dennis was a longtime employee of Hughes Corporation, then Raytheon in Fullerton, working as a Project Manager until he retired. These skills served him well in various organizational and administrative capacities with the OCWS. He served on the Commercial Wine Competition Committee for well over 20 years working with others in developing the format for cataloging wines. He then took over as Chairman of the Competition and then Chairman of Judges for 10 years before turning that position over to Kevin Coy.

Dennis was very highly regarded by winemakers and winery owners which showed in the respect they have for the Commercial Wine Competition and their desire to appear for our winery tasting programs for which Dennis was in charge for a few years.

Dennis traveled the world with Carol and their children for many years in his position with Hughes. The traveling never stopped once he became active with the OCWS as he embarked upon a number of wine trips with friends to wineries, wine tastings at ZAP, and meeting with family winemakers as a member of the Commercial Wine Competition. He maintained a close circle of OCWS friends throughout the years who enjoyed his kindness, generosity, and reverence.

Raised in Kansas and a graduate of Kansas State, his work ethic and skills were valued in the OC Fair Courtyard where he and Carol put in many hours in preparing The Courtyard, setting up the wine cellar, maintaining, stewarding, managing and teaching about wine. His calm demeanor allowed him to deal with honesty and humor any time problems or disagreements arose in the OCWS or during the OC Fair. Dennis’ activities preparing for and working the Annual Wine Auction allowed this event to be our biggest single revenue producer outside The Courtyard during the OC Fair.

It would be impossible to say just how many accolades Dennis received from the OCWS, Judges, friends and co-workers. What he has contributed to the OCWS will be evident once the pandemic is under control and we return to normal activities with the OCWS.

We ask you to raise a glass of wine for Dennis and in support of Carol and the family who will need all our good thoughts and prayers.

Dennis, we will miss you terribly.

– Sam Puzzo

President’s Message

Greetings everyone! The OCWS has been busy continuing the work of our organization. Our office staff, Lynda Edwards and Rochelle Randel, have been working remotely to answer emails and provide support to our Board of Directors, Event Chairs and wineries. If you need assistance, please send an email to Office@ocws.org.

Working together, Charles English our bookkeeper, Mel Jay, Treasurer, and Dave Stancil, Finance Committee Chair have been paying our bills and monitoring our finances. Over the years, wise and prudent leadership in the organization allowed us to build up our reserves to weather these difficult times. I am pleased to report that as a result, we are in sound financial shape.

I have been working monthly with the OCFEC staff to schedule future events through 2021. We have been able to gain access to our office and cellar on a monthly basis to ensure that they are safe and secure. Like most of us individually, the OCFEC is waiting on guidance from state and local authorities that will allow activities to resume. As with businesses and wineries  throughout the state, everyone is eager to resume operations when it is safe to do so. This year the Annual Business Meeting will most likely need to be done “virtually.” We are in the process of working on the logistics and will provide more details as the meeting, scheduled for September 11, gets closer.

This summer, the OC Fair is Going Virtual!  The OCWS has been invited to be part of this virtual event and Sara Yeoman, Director, is working towards providing video content in July 2020. We are also working on a number of “virtual” events starting at the end of June for our membership. Please look for these events which will be posted on our website from the main menu Zoom Seminars.

It is once again time to invite our membership to become members of our Board of Directors. Please see Greg Hagadorn’s article and consider running for the Board this year. As the candidates declare, we will be posting their candidate statements on the OCWS website. Cheers,

 Bill Redding, President