Members Corner

Commercial Wine Competition Volunteers Needed

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 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

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@ocws.org.

– Brian McDonald, Director

OCWS Scholarship Season

The OCWS guidelines allow awarding of scholarships to students in the Viticulture, Enology, and Culinary Arts programs at select California degree colleges and universities. At present, seven colleges and/or universities are chosen; they are: Allan Hancock College, Orange Coast College, Cal Poly-Pomona, UC Davis, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Napa Valley College of Enology, and CSU at […]
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An Event to Remember: 2019 Fall BBQ & Chili Cook Off Recap

The OCWS Chili Cook Off & BBQ was held on September 21 at The Courtyard under clear skies and comfortable fall temperatures. It was a sold out event with 28 teams competing in the Chili Cook Off and over 200 members and guests attending.  Everyone enjoyed the 28 amazing and unique homemade chilis, grilled foods prepared by the Cooks Caucus, and the wonderful music provided by the Three 2 Sevens band.

I would like to thank the 28 teams that entered the Chili competition for all their hard work, creative decorations, and amazing chili . . . simply chili-licious! Listed below are the competition winners by category and name of chili:

  • Best Traditional Chili with beans—Rick & Linda Kerfott—“Rodrigo Cowboy Chili”
  • Best Traditional Chili without beans—Diane Froot & Rebecca Frazier—“Un Named”
  • Best Vegetarian Chili—Amiee & Steve Halligan—“Chewie’s 3 Chile Chili”
  • Best Chili Using Wine—Jane Goodnight & Gail Hirstein—“Winerful Chili”
  • Best Chili by a New Member—Ed & Linda Robb—“Ed’s Dragon Breath Chili”
  • Best Table Presentation—Dean & Robyn Strom—“Kettle Chili”
  • People’s Choice—Diane Froot & Rebecca Frazier—“Un Named”

I would like to especially thank the six students from the Orange Coast College Culinary Art Academy who agreed to be judges for the competition and helped make it such a success.

Of course, none of our events could take place without the hard work and support of our members who volunteered to help plan, coordinate the many details, and work the day of the event. To all of them who helped “make it happen,” a very sincere and heartfelt thank you!

– Terry McLean, Event Chair

In Memoriam: Richard Veague

It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of Rich Veague, OCWS long-time member and home winemaker. Sadly, Rich passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on August 31 at the age of 78. Rich joined the OCWS in the early ‘90s and started Dark Side Winery with his partner, Bryan Skelly, in 2000. Together they consistently won medals in the OCWS Home Wine Competition, including Gold Medal and Double-Gold Medal designations in this year’s competition. Rich also served as a judge and Best of Show judge for many years in the OCWS Home Wine Competition.

Rich served in the Army at White Sands Missile Range in the early ‘60s before being stationed on the DMZ in South Korea. He had a very successful career in high tech that culminated with his retirement from Intel in 2002. He loved beach volleyball, cross-country skiing, golf, camping and hiking, music and attending Burning Man Festivals and UFO conferences. Rich is survived by his wife, Virginia, his brother and sister, and countless friends from around the world.

Rich’s special gift was that he made friends easily, using a self-deprecating and somewhat dry humor that will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Bryan Skelly

Who to Contact

All OCWS events and activities outlined in The Wine Press specify how to participate and sign up for an event. Unless otherwise noted, please refrain from contacting the article editor directly.

General inquiries can be obtained by phoning the OCWS office at 714.708.1636 or by email to Office@ocws.org. Lynda Edwards (photo above) or Rochelle Randel, our office Administrators, can help you with any question you have or they will know who to contact to take care of you most efficiently.  For more detailed Wine Society information, log in to OCWS.org. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

A Record Breaking Year at the 2019 Courtyard

The 2019 OC Fair, now just a fading memory, is still very fresh in the minds and hearts of the 330 OCWS volunteers whose dedication and enthusiasm made this year’s Courtyard the most successful in OCWS history! With over 1,500 shifts worked at The Courtyard this year, and thousands of hours spent behind the scenes before and after the Fair, records were smashed from previous years. The Courtyard grossed the largest revenue in OCWS history.

As a partner to the OC Fair & Event Center, we run both the Commercial and Home Wine Competitions. In return, we are given the opportunity to run The Courtyard during the OC Fair, with derived income paying for both competitions and covering OCWS overhead for the following year.  Generous donations from the general public are contributed directly to the OCWS Scholarship Fund.

The success of The Courtyard is due, in no small part, to The Courtyard Committee, the cash verifiers behind the scenes, the seminar presenters, the set up and tear down crews and the Featured Winery program, along with too many other positions and programs to name, and all the OCWS volunteers who manned or maintained The Courtyard in any number of capacities.

It took every one of our volunteers, no matter how great or small the task, to make The Courtyard a success and provide the OCWS with a fabulous financial foundation going into next year.

Thank you to each every one of you who volunteered!

– Fran Gitsham & The 2019 Courtyard Committee

In Memoriam: Robert Trout

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of one of the OCWS’s long-time members, Robert Trout, who passed away on the evening of June 26, 2019 at age 88. Bob was many things for the OCWS: a Board Member, President, recipient of the President’s Award, and Commercial Wine Competition Committee member for many years, along with his wife, Marjorie. The Trouts helped develop the Label Competition, and Bob served as Assistant Chairman of Judges under Dennis Esslinger. Ultimately, due to his tremendous dedication and service, he was awarded the designation of President Emeritus. In recent years, many of us knew Bob to be an exceptional opener of the cans of olives to be served to the Commercial Wine Competition judges.

Bob came to the OCWS in what seemed like “eons” ago as a home winemaker. After learning on his own, as many of us have, it also took guidance to make good home wines. The OCWS gave him that guidance which began the road to the many years Bob and Marjorie had with the OCWS.

Bob used his design skills as a Professor of Industrial Technology at California State University at Long Beach to develop and create a special award featuring a very large actual grapevine for our Zinfandel Competition during the 25th Anniversary Commercial Competition. Bob was highly respected by our judges due to his many years with the OCWS and his time working with the judges during the Commercial Wine Competition, including obtaining wines for the Judges Dinner.

An avid bicycle rider, Bob travelled the length of California stopping in many wine regions. Those who knew him well will miss his subtle sense of humor, his friendship, intellect, and love of fine wines which he was always willing to share with people he met along the way.

For Marjorie, his daughter Shannon and her husband, and his grandchildren, he will never truly be gone.

– The OCWS Board of Directors