Members Corner

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 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

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

Ideal Wine Serving Temperature Chart

Med/Full Bodied Oaked White WineChardonnay, Fume BlancLightly Chilled 50o – 55o F
Light/Med Bodied White WineSauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, RoséChilled 45o – 50o F
Sweet WinesMuscat, White Zinfandel, Riesling (sweet), White Port, Late Harvest WhiteWell Chilled 43o – 45o F
Sparkling WinesSparkling Wine, Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, AstiWell Chilled 43o – 50o F
Light Bodied RedsPinot Noir, Lambrusco, Dolcetto, Dornfelder, GamayLightly Chilled 55o F
Med/Full Bodied RedsCabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Malbec, Petit Sirah, Mourvédre, NebbioloRoom Temperature 59o – 64o F

In Case You Missed It

Lately when reading online news, every now and then an interesting headline appears that I thought worthy of sharing—in case you missed it!

Ever hear of the “Cannonball Run?” It’s the New York to Los Angeles cross-country drive that has set a new pandemic-aided record in April. The new record beat the old record, set in November of last year, by more than 45 minutes. The drive was made in 26 hours and 38 minutes due to lack of traffic. It was reported that there were three to four drivers who made the drive, averaging an illegal speed of 106 miles per hour, covering 2,825.3 miles. Amazing!

Have you pulled out your old puzzles recently from the closet or ordered new ones to work on during your stay-at-home restriction? The New York Times published an interesting article recently on how jigsaw puzzles are made. Apparently the demand for puzzles has skyrocketed to levels not seen since Christmas, and with the world under lockdown, they’re been viewed as a new tool to save humanity.

A brief excerpt from the article is about a German company known for puzzle production, that “can’t easily ramp up production, because each new puzzle takes weeks to create. Each puzzle piece must be uniquely shaped, to avoid one accidentally fitting into the wrong place. That means 1,000 different shapes for a 1,000-piece puzzle, each drawn by hand by workers. Before a puzzle is cut for the first time, each piece is sketched on a sheet of paper draped over the finished image.” Who knew!

It would be remiss of me not to include a wine related headline which especially caught my attention. I did not want my inbox to light up to have to remind me that we are a wine organization, and that this space predominately addresses wine related events, home winemaking and education. Or the “red” landline phone ringing, fearing to answer knowing the President Bill Redding might have the current edition of The Wine Press in front of him, while enjoying a glass of wine, that didn’t make mention of wine in any form in an article.

Do you recall reading Love in the Time of Cholera, a novel by Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Did you see the movie titled the same? An online publication, Spirited, featured an article with a catchy title Wine in the Time of Pandemic  which led me to read on. Aside from delivering how California wineries are adapting to the “new norm” with curbside pickup, virtual wine offerings and discounts, the article reminded me to “keep calm and keep the corkscrew handy.” Laura Ness, the writer of the article, keeps a corkscrew handy in every purse and jacket she owns. Hint, hint!

Moving on . . . did you know that the whales are thriving without cruise and cargo ship traffic? Lonely Planet is reporting that “wildlife are having a whale of a time—quite literally. A reduction in container and cruise ship traffic has provided a vacation of sorts for vulnerable cetaceans, and an opportunity for scientists to learn more about how marine noise pollution impacts ocean species.”

And there’s less rumbling on the earth’s surface—seismologists who study seismic signals from the earth’s interior report that quarantines seem to have made it easier to listen! There’s less air pollution, and city soundscapes are changing—it’s a whole lot quieter. This may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on preference to quiet or surrounding noise! The Atlantic published this interesting read entitled “The Pandemic is Turning the Natural World Upside Down.”

I am among the many who are currently working from home during the stay-at-home restriction. While enjoying a glass of wine, I try and catch up on positive COVID-19 related newsworthy articles.

My hope is that this article brings into your homes a “distraction” from what we are all facing today.

– Linda Mihalik, Editor

OCWS Office Hours

In accordance with the OC Fair & Event Center, our office has temporarily been moved offsite.

If you need to contact someone, we suggest you please email us at

We are working remotely and will pick up your messages from home and redirect them. Our offsite hours are 9 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.







– Lynda Edwards & Rochelle Randel,

Office Administrators

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 signups 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. Sign-ups will open online on April 1, 2020 and will be open through April 30. An email announcement will be sent April 1 notifying members that sign-ups are open and provide instructions. Please make sure your email address is up-to-date in the website as we will be using your email to send you confirmations.

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

– Ken & Irene Scott, Volunteer Coordinators

Pinot Noir Mini-Tasting Wrap Up

Over 130 members and guests attended the February 22 Pinot Noir Mini-Tasting at eight host sites. The blind tasting included five flights of two wines each.  Each of the wines were Pinot Noirs, eight from California, one from Oregon, and one from France. Seven of the ten wines finished in the top three at one or more sites. The top two wines were each in the top three at six of the eight sites, and were nearly tied overall. The three favorite wines across all eight host sites are listed below:

Place Winery & Wine Name Year Price Description
1st Walt – La Brisa Vineyard, Sonoma County 2017 $36.99 Three first place, two seconds, and one third place finishes
2nd Bellante Reserve, Dierberg Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley 2016 $65.00 Two first place, three seconds, and one third place finishes
3rd Paul Hobbs, Russian River Valley 2017 $49.98 Two firsts, one second place, and two third place finishes

In addition, the 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 Frances & George Cravens: Linda Downey – “Roast Pork with Cranberries”
  • Host Robin McCormick: David Rutledge – “Grilled Salmon with Spice Rub”
  • Hosts Betty Jo & Jay Newell: Linda McLean – “Chicken Provencal”
  • Hosts Ebo & Mary Anne Neutz: Kevin Donnelly – “Glazed Ham”
  • Hosts Frank & Pat Solis: Eric & Carmen Kaines – “Pork Tenderloin”
  • Hosts Beverly Genis & Bob Topham: Kim & Sam Clark – “Lasagna”
  • Hosts Marcia & James Vaughan: Cheryl Bell – “Chocolate Cake”
  • Hosts Dave & Barbara White: Barbara White “Oven Braised Veal Stew with Black Peppers & Cherries”

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

– George Cravens, Director

Chris Cunningham Scholarship Endowment

The Board of Directors is very pleased to announce a scholarship endowment to Sonoma State University, in the name of Chris Cunningham. Chris, a treasured member of the OCWS, passed away in early 2018.

While working in the wine industry, Chris became highly respected by wine professionals and recognized for having an excellent palate.

Chris, along with many OCWS members, traveled often to the Russian River area, stopping by tasting rooms to meet the winemakers, discuss their harvest, and to sample their current vintages. Chris’ favorite varietals were Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage.

This fall, the Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute is launching a new transition program, the first of its kind in the region. The new joint program includes a collaboration with local winegrowers and students from Santa Rosa Junior College who earned their Associate’s Degree in Enology and Viticulture to be able to transfer to SSU to earn their Bachelor’s Degree combining a comprehensive knowledge of the wine business and production of wine. Beside students pursuing degrees in the field of Business, scholarships are awarded for first-hand experience in viticulture and enology to those working “in the fields” of vineyard agriculture and winemaking research.

At this time, any OCWS member considering donating funds to the Chris Cunningham Scholarship account may specify Sonoma State University on their check or donate directly to SSU in the name of Chris Cunningham—OCWS. This is a wonderful way for his friends and family to honor the legacy of Chris and acknowledge his generous contributions to the OCWS in supporting the region’s wine industry and help sustain the California wine industry and Chris’ memory.

Chris, we all raise our glasses to you for honoring us with your trust and thirst for wine appreciation for years to come. On behalf of Sonoma State University and the OCWS, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Cunningham Family. Cheers, Chris!

– Leslie Hodowanec, Scholarship Chair

Looking for a Host/Hostess New Member Mixer Site

The OCWS Board would like to host another New Member Mixer on Sunday, June 28. We are looking for a member that might be willing to host this event. It would be from 2 pm to 4 pm. The OCWS provides the wine, glasses, food, plates, flatware, and serving necessities. All you have to do is provide the location. We would anticipate attendance to be around 50  to 60 people, but it can be limited to whatever number you feel your home can accommodate.

If you have any interest, please contact me at 714.227.7284 or  at

– Brian McDonald, Director