Members Corner

Graber Olive House, a Longtime, Valued Supporter of the OCWS

The 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. As you know, palate assault can be extreme even though wine judges […]
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The Good, the Bad & The Wine Tasting Room

Visiting a tasting room is an excellent way to experience the diverse selection of a winery’s wines in a relaxed, fun, and social environment—albeit a foreign territory for those of us who live outside of wine country.

Insiders have shared some “do’s” and “don’ts:

  • Do try a wine you don’t think you might like – this is what tastings are for
  • Do refrain from openly criticizing wines; wine tasting is subjective (to a degree)
  • Do ask for seconds if you are seriously considering buying the wine
  • Do moderate your intake – spit if you are visiting quite a few tasting rooms
  • Don’t wear perfume or cologne – 80% of our sense of taste is experienced through our noses; be considerate with wearing as little scent as possible
  • Don’t ask for “in the industry” discounts
  • Don’t ask for the “good stuff” – it implies you are not being served any good wines; do inquire about reserve wines or library wines
  • Don’t haggle on the price; it’s not a car dealership

The Orange County Wine Society supports all California winemakers and principals. Each year during the OC Fair, we proudly introduce award-wining wines as well as feature all wines from the Commercial Wine Competition for tasting by the general public at The Courtyard.

Membership in the OCWS does not include representing oneself as “industry” or an “industry winemaker.” The OCWS is a non-profit brand and we have established trust with many external audiences in the wine industry. We have a clear mission and vision and are strategic in our marketing and branding initiatives. Every member visiting a California winery should introduce themselves as an Orange County Wine Society member—be a proud marketer for the OCWS.

– The OCWS Board of Directors

Featured Member: Bruce Powers

Many of us know Bruce as a key member of the Winemakers’ Group. But there is much more to know about Bruce.

The story starts more than 40 years ago. Bruce and his friend were out for a joy ride on his friend’s motorcycle. They came upon a girl in a Camaro, and to impress her, they popped a wheelie. Bruce fell off the back and she nearly ran him over. After she picked him up off the road, they got to chatting and she drove him home. A year later they were dating . . . she nearly killed him when they first met, now Bruce and Jeanine have been happily married for 39 years!

As a boy in Seal Beach, Bruce dreamed about cars and car racing. When he was older, he began working on cars, particularly Porsches, with local car mechanics. In the 1970s, Bruce raced in Sports Car Club of America events as well as Off-Road events.

While earning his engineering degree, he became an ASE Certified Master Technician. After graduating into a very tight economy and newly married, Bruce decided to open his own auto service business in Huntington Beach, Autowerkes. Jeanine handled the books. Autowerkes specializes in Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes. Attention to detail in auto repair and providing outstanding customer service have helped him grow his business with customers coming from all over Orange County. Bruce also helps run Autocross events and sponsors a Porsche Boxter in competitions.

Always athletic, Bruce has run over 30 marathons. Many family vacations were scheduled around key marathons. Bruce recently ran a 10K with the older of their two daughters – she won, we hear. Bruce’s athletic talents extend into coaching volleyball, as his two daughters played. He developed and published a primer on how to coach students entitled “Blueprint of a Champion” which is still available online.

Those who visit Bruce and Jeanine in their lovely Spanish style home are welcomed by a menagerie. There are currently three horses, including Genevieve who is blind, two ducks named Donald and Melania, three dogs, a cat, and most famously, Marcel the Donkey, who has been featured on their wine labels.

As a winemaker, Bruce has made several varietals over the years, most notably, Sangiovese (which he has planted at his home in Orange Park Acres), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, several Rosé wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and even champagne. He has received several Double Gold, Gold and Silver awards at the Home Wine Competition.

For the past 2 to 3 years, Bruce has also been the chief liaison for the Winemakers’ Group in sourcing grapes and juice from Chris van Alyea and has made several trips, along with Dave Wiegand, to Solterra Winery for pickup and delivery to Orange County.

Bruce also conducted a workshop for making Rosé wine to the Winemakers’ Group and during this year’s crush gave a handson demonstration of how to press off the juice before fermenting.

It is Bruce’s focus on service, assistance, and education that we are celebrating and featuring in this edition of The Wine Press. It is members like Bruce that make the OCWS a very special group of people!

Holiday Dinner & Dance Recap

If you missed our Holiday Dinner & Dance held on November 30, you missed out on a really great party. There was a record attendance of 111, up from 82 the previous year.

Comments from those attending suggest the food was the best ever. The Three 2 Sevens, the OCWS honorary band, played great music to dance to all night long (the dance floor was never empty). And the SAX WAS BACK!

Our President and Cellar Master, Bill Redding, pulled some great wines from the wine cellar for all to enjoy. We doubled down on the passed appetizers.

Four bags of unwrapped toys were given to the Costa Mesa Fire Department for their “Spark of Love” program to benefit underprivileged children (get the pun?  “Spark” of Love – Fire Department?).

My thanks to the Atrium Hotel staff who were great to work with, and to my wife Sue for correcting my typos.

Below is a sampling of photos taken during the Holiday Dinner & Dance. Please log in to the OCWS website at to view nearly 90 photos taken during the event.

– Brian McDonald, Event Chair

Food-Worthy Reds Mini-Tasting Recap

Nearly 100 members and guests attended the Food-Worthy Reds Mini-Tasting on November 10 at six host sites. Five flights of wine included Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Meritage Red/Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.

The overall favorite was also a Double-Gold winner at this year’s Commercial Wine Competition. Second place was a Carol Shelton Zinfandel blend. Third was a Napa Syrah. Fourth was very close to third, and also a Double Gold winner this year – Jeff Runquist Grenache.

The three favorite wines across the six host sites, plus the fourth place which was very nearly tied for third:

Place Winery Name Year Price Description
1st J. Lohr Cuvee Series

Meritage Red

2014 $50.00 Cuvee ST.E, Paso Robles AVA, 59% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot

Double Gold (94 Pts) OC Competition

2nd Carol Shelton — Karma Reserve


2014 $25.00 Sonoma County
70% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Sirah, 6% Alicante Bouschet, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Carignane, 2% Viognier91 points Wine Spectator
3rd Rocca Family Grigsby — Napa


2013 $48.00 Rocca’s 2013 Syrah Grigsby Vineyards is a rich, deep, chewy wine that coats the palate and is very savory.

92 Points Robert Parker

4th Jeff Runquist Alta Mesa AVA


2016 $28.00 The aroma of the 2016 wine is loaded with ripe red fruits; raspberry, strawberry, cherry and currant. On the palate, savory flavors of raspberry and cherry are delivered by a wine with a silky texture.

Double Gold (94 Pts) Wine Competition

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 are:

  • Hosts Germaine & Rob Romano:

Wendy Taylor  “Black Walnut Fancy Cake”

  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai:

Jim Burke “Stracotto with Herbed Noodles & Horseradish Cream”

¨ Tied with:

Eric Kalnes “Mac and Cheese”

  • Hosts Judy Davison & Paula and Bob Becker:

Tamara Reddy “Pecan Squares”

  • Hosts Marcia & James Vaughan:

Rich Skoczylas “Luscious Fall Apple Delight”

  • Hosts Barbara & David White:

       John Mendoca “Curried Chicken”

  • Hosts Cathy & Greg Risling:

Michelle Flores “Brussel Sprouts”

Click on this link to see the “Wine Food Pairing” document provided on this events Mini-Tasting Wines 

Congratulations to all the winners! A big thank you to the hosts!

– George Cravens, Chair


Courtyard Maintenance Crew Needed

With the very unfortunate and untimely passing of Paul Peal, our long-time Maintenance Co-coordinator, we have a critical need to put together a maintenance crew of 2 to 3 people. You should be skilled in construction, woodworking, plumbing, etc. The maintenance crew would be expected to participate in The Courtyard set-up (the Saturday before the Fair opens), […]

In Memoriam: Patty Wells

Patricia L. Wells, a long-time member of the Orange County Wine Society and a frequent supporter and scorekeeper of the Commercial Wine Competitions, passed away in Anaheim on November 4 at the age of 66.

Patty was a native of Los Angeles and grew up in the LA and Orange County areas.

Patty generously shared her knowledge of fine wine – and her collection – with family and friends. She loved most a fine red wine and favored several wines from the Temecula wine region, particularly those from Weins, Lorenzi, and Hart Wineries. Patty could be found nearly every Friday afternoon with her close friends at the Seal Beach Winery.

In addition to wine, Patty loved horses and was an active board member of the California Equine Retirement Foundation since 1986.

The Wine Society extends its heartfelt condolences to Patty’s family and friends.

President’s Wine Snips – 2018-2019 President, Bill Redding and BOD

Greetings to everyone on behalf of the OCWS Board of Directors. A special thanks  is extended to Jim Beard, Fran Gitsham, and Rich Skoczylas for their outstanding leadership and service over the past six years.

At the Annual Installation Dinner last month, our new Board members were introduced: Leslie Hodowanec, Mel Jay, and Sara Yeoman. This year’s Officers were also introduced: President—Bill Redding, Vice President—Ken Scott, Treasurer—Brian McDonald, and Secretary—George Cravens. The Board Members’ contact information is in every newsletter. Please feel free to introduce yourself to this year’s Board at upcoming OCWS events.

For those who don’t know me personally, my wife, Carolyn, and I have been members since 2001. Since that time, we have taken an incredible journey through the OCWS. We have learned a great deal about wine, winemaking, California’s wine industry, and have had the opportunity to meet many of California’s premier winemakers who graciously assist in judging at the Commercial Wine Competition each year. Just as importantly, we have come to know numerous people, many of whom we now count as friends. It is my sincere hope that our members participate in the many activities that are available as attendees, volunteers, or as members of the various committees that make events possible each year.

The success of the OCWS over time is due to the tremendous support of its members. Last year, members contributed 20,682 volunteer hours. As a non-profit educational foundation, we have contributed scholarship funding totaling over $633,000 to select California colleges and universities in support of students who will become the next generation working in California’s wine industry and the culinary arts.

Upcoming activities are posted on our website at and in our newsletter. The Wine Press is mailed out at the beginning of each month.

Please join your fellow members at one of our upcoming events. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

In Memoriam: Paul Peal

The OCWS mourns the loss of OCWS member, Paul Peal, the recipient of the 2015 President’s Award. Paul’s extraordinary volunteerism, warm and gentle demeanor, and tireless efforts spoke volumes regarding his devotion to the success of the Wine Society.

Paul, a longtime member along with his wife, Janet Owen Peal, will be remembered for his huge heart and amazing ability to build and repair anything and everything imaginable. His handiwork can be seen in every physical aspect of the organization from the OCWS office to The Courtyard and well beyond.

The family requests that any donations in his memory be made by helping a veteran, supporting a student, or donating to the OCWS scholarship fund.

Paul will be sorely missed by all who had the great fortune to have crossed paths with him in life. Cheers, our friend!



President’s Wine Snips – Passing the Torch

This is the last President’s article I will be writing. In accordance with our Bylaws, I am termed out of the Board after six years (two three-year terms). To be blatantly honest, I am not devastated to know that I will have more time on my hands and I can just be one hell of a great volunteer going forward. I look forward to sharing more time and laughs with so many of you whose paths have crossed mine, and because of my commitment to help run the organization precluded me from, more often than not, spending time just being and having more fun.

I am so very proud to have had the opportunity to serve the organization on the Board and to have been your President, if just for one brief year. I was mentored early on by smart, talented, and loving people and have watched this organization grow by leaps and bounds in just these past six years. We have implemented new technology, ramped up the business aspect of The Courtyard and created new membership drives that have brought us the next generation of dedicated volunteers who will see that the OCWS continues to thrive for many more years to come. New fundraising avenues have been tapped into for our scholarship fund, marketing efforts have enhanced the Commercial Wine Competition in more ways than just entries, and we have gained, thanks to an amazing OC Fair staff, new respect from the OCFEC as one of their nonprofit partners, all while trying to take into consideration those who have come before and created the foundation that it is today.

With the above being said, I ask all of you to remember that I was just one of nine and to please show the same support, compassion and understanding I have felt from you to those who are coming next. You have six truly amazing Board members going forward next year and now, as all three of the outgoing Directors have termed out, we have the opportunity to elect three new Board members to help run the OCWS. I have joked that we have 1,000 members at any given time and that 991 are in it for the fun and camaraderie, but nine members who, as Directors, give an exorbitant amount of their personal time and business expertise to run the OCWS. This is so true! It’s not always easy to keep in mind that we are a business and must be run as such taking into consideration finances, legalities, liabilities, insurance, etc. Your Directors give not only their time and talents, but their hearts. We have four people running for the three open Director positions. I strongly urge each of you to take the time to read their Statements of Candidacy and use your best discretion to vote for three people you consider most qualified to run the business. Statements of Candidacy can be located on the website.

I ask that you also remember that, although nine people essentially run the business, none of this would be possible without all of your support and efforts as volunteers doing the really hard work. I could not be prouder to have been a part of the business aspect, and now I look forward to being equally as proud to join the ranks as a dedicated volunteer.

Lastly, please remember, I will still do hugs! Thank you all for a great ride!

– Fran Gitsham, President