President’s Message

President’s Message

We are finally back and in the middle of the 2021 OC Fair! Can I hear a big YAY from the peanut gallery? It’s been a long two years, and although the Fair isn’t back to full capacity, we are hoping for a strong showing at The Courtyard. In addition to being the major annual fundraiser for the OCWS, this is a time where our members have a chance to meet and get to know other members, and some customers, which has often led to lifetime friendships. I hope we all have a lot of fun volunteering and pouring wines, and I look forward to seeing most of you there.

The past year and a half has been trying on all of us. We will never know how this isolation has impacted each and every one of us, and we all look forward to things getting back to, dare I say, “normal?” Since we have not generated income during this time, the OCWS Board of Directors has had to significantly cut back on our expenditures. I want to personally thank every one of you for hanging in there with us. We are now able to re-emerge and resume activities. And, I want to thank all of the former Board members for having the foresight to create a strong financial position in the event of an earthquake, fire, and other disaster; but who would have predicted the pandemic? Many similar organizations have folded because of their financial collapse over the past months, but the OC Wine Society continues to be strong, thanks to the sacrifice of all of us!

In the coming months, we look forward to many events in September, including our Annual Business Meeting over Zoom, and we start the on-site events with the Gold Medal Mini-Tastings at several homes throughout Orange County, and our long-delayed Wine Auction. In the planning stages is a  large social event to be held in The Courtyard in October. These events have been long delayed, and we all look forward to actually seeing our friends, and not just Zeeing them on a computer screen!

Cheers to you all, and see you at The  Courtyard!

Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

After more than a year of almost no activities, we have just been through two of the hardest events of our “normal” OCWS year, our two Competitions! And yet as hard as we work to accomplish these monumental events, they are also the most rewarding for our members, both in the feeling of accomplishment at the end, and also in the ability to actually see each other, and not just “Zee” each other over the computer screen. We saw a lot of hugs and heard “It’s so good to actually see you!” greetings, and it was so good to again see so many of our members! Our Commercial Wine Competition was held June 5-6 at the Hilton Orange County Costa Mesa hotel on Bristol Street, and we were ecstatic to receive 2,440 entries! We welcomed back many of our returning judges, and a few new ones. Congratulations to Liz and Lloyd Corbett for your months of work beforehand, Leslie Brown and Kevin Coy for your leadership, and to all of you who volunteered to make this such a wonderful event. Visit for results from the Competition.

It always amazes me to see the “OCWS machine” that receives, prepares, and transports the wines to the hotel, and then the organization and execution of the Competition.

This was followed by our Home Wine Competition on June 12, where wines were judged from amateur winemakers. 624 wines were judged, which actually exceeded the number of wines we received in 2019. Thanks to Bill Forsch, David Rutledge, Rob Romano, Jim Downey, and Sam Clark for your leadership, and to all of the volunteers for your hard work. Congratulations to all of our entrants, both commercial and amateur, who submitted their wines. Without you, there would be no OCWS.

Next up is the OC Fair from July 16 through August 15, and all the efforts we are currently putting forth, our latest major work activity to make the OC Wine Society what it is today!

The Courtyard will be looking a little different this year, but we’ll make it happen! Thanks to Fran Gitsham for your leadership on The Courtyard Committee, Rich Skoczylas for organizing the volunteers, Rochelle Randall for leading the TIPS training, and all the other committee members who are backing them up. We are still looking for more volunteers to staff the wine bar!

Because of the great work you have all put in during past years, we were able to survive the past year with no income or in-person activities. We look forward to welcoming you all back and seeing all of our friends, as we will be beginning our social events this coming fall!

Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

June has arrived, and we enter the most important three months of the OC Wine Society’s calendar from a business perspective. On June 5 and 6 we host the OC Fair’s Commercial Wine Competition, on June 12 we host the Home Wine Competition, and from July 16 to August 15 we host the OC Fair’s Wine Courtyard. The Commercial Wine Competition is when the OCWS brings in the wines, and The Courtyard at the OC Fair, our largest fundraiser of the year, coupled with income from our Wine Auction, sustains the organization financially for the following year.

During these months, we appreciate all of the time you, our members, volunteer to work at these events. But these are also the times when we get to know other members, and many of these members will become your lifelong friends. The bonds we make at our events are what gives the heart to the Orange County Wine Society and are the reason so many of our members have stayed as members for 10, 20, 30, and even more than 40 years! If you haven’t worked at one or all of these events in past years, I encourage you to explore openings and see where you can fit in, and I hope you all become long-term members!

Looking out into the future, we are hoping to start resuming our social activities this fall. The upcoming relieving of the COVID19 restrictions by the State and the Orange County Health Department and scheduling The Courtyard during the OC Fair are issues we are currently dealing with. We will also look at the ability to conduct our long-delayed Wine Auction sometime in the fall, so keep your eyes open for our upcoming announcements once we get past the OC Fair.

I hope to see many of you over the next few weeks and months! Social time is coming, cheers!

Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

May has arrived, and the OC Wine Society is moving closer to both the Commercial Wine Competition and the Home Wine Competition. Because of the cancellation of last year’s Competitions and the pandemic delays which extended into this year, we were late in starting our marketing and as a result, we are not sure how many entries we will receive for both events.

Several of our members have put forth a fabulous effort to contact 1,400 wineries by phone to remind them that our entry deadlines are approaching and to please submit their wines. Thank you to everyone involved in this great effort!

This month we will be looking to get our members to volunteer to help with the receiving, sorting, and bagging of wines in preparation for the Commercial Wine Competition to be held at the Hilton Hotel June 5 through the 6, and the Home Wine Competition at The Courtyard on June 12. Our two Competitions and the upcoming Courtyard at the OC Fair are critical to our core mission of supporting wine education and the financial success of the organization.

And some fabulous news, Governor Newsom has announced that if we continue with our decreasing COVID numbers, California will “open up” on June 15 for full activities!

Since this date is after our two Competitions, it will not affect our social distancing and mask restrictions. But it will be in time for the OC Fair, and hopefully the OCWS can start resuming our social activities after the Fair this coming fall.

This will be welcome news for all of us, for the state, and soon for the country.

Stay healthy everyone, and I hope to actually see you over the coming months!

Social time is coming, cheers!

Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

As we enter April, our summer activities are coming more into focus. Although the COVID pandemic is still affecting our lives every day, we are beginning to focus on our OCWS summer activities. Our Board members and Committee Chairs have been working with OCFEC, and we were glad to hear an OC Fair executive confirm that “the Commercial Competition is very important to our program.” The OCWS Commercial Wine Competition is on track for June 5-6, and our Home Wine Competition is scheduled to be held on June 19. Marketing materials have gone out, and we will be contacting our members over the next few months asking for volunteers.

We also now have our OCWS in-house office once again staffed Monday through Friday by Lynda Edwards and Rochelle Randel, and Liz and Lloyd Corbett will be working in Building 15 to receive wines for both of our Competitions. Thank you for continuing to work with us and helping us move back into the OCWS groove

During April, we are continuing our virtual seminars, with several Monday night “Varietal Hours,” starting April 5 with Sangiovese. On April 9, we have our Winery Webinar program with Russian River Vineyards, and on April 21, we have a Wine Education Seminar on “Wines of Central Coast.” Further information is available in articles in this edition of the newsletter and on our website at under the Events tab. 

As I have discussed in the past two months, after suspending annual fees for the past year, we are resuming asking for annual membership fees of $40 for singles or $60 for doubles this month. I hope this will not inconvenience anyone, and I look forward to seeing everyone “re-upping” when your month comes up and participating in our events this year and next year!

Thank you all for your continued support during these difficult times, and I look forward to actually SEEING you in the not-too-distant future.

Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

February has flown by despite most of us still being locked down from the COVID pandemic. The OCWS has been doing their best to keep our social connections by hosting not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different seminar tracks with our Sunday Winter Seminars, our Monday night Varietal Hours, our monthly Friday night Webinars, and the Winemakers’ Group seminars. We have several new and free “zoominars” coming up this month, so be sure to check out the Events page on our website, and the “Save the Date Calendar” at the end of this newsletter. 

We also plan to start more of our Wine Education Webinars this month with our certified Sommelier, starting on March 24, Wines of Mexico.

As I mentioned in my last month’s President’s Message, after suspending OCWS membership renewal fees for the past 12 months, we will resume asking for annual membership fees next month. Your renewal will be two years since your last fee, so If you renewed last time on April 1, 2019, we will request you renew on April 1, 2021. If your renewal was May 1, 2019, we will request you renew on May 1, 2021. We appreciate all of you for helping to maintain the Orange County Wine Society during one of the most trying years of our lives.

Update on our 2021 Commercial Wine Competition, Home Wine Competition, and our Courtyard at the OC Fair—the OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) is still waiting for finalization of direction from both the State and the Orange County Health Department. We are making preparations for all of these activities, but we haven’t received the final “go-ahead” from the OCFEC. I will keep you all informed as we get updates.

The Los Angeles County Fair has been canceled for 2021, so we hope we do not suffer the same fate.

Hopefully, many of you have received your COVID vaccinations or have plans to do so in the near future. This will be the key to OCWS conducting more activities in conjunction with the OC Fair, and we all want to get back to work. (And by that, I really mean PLAY!)

I wish everyone a healthy and happy March!

Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

January has sure started off with a “bang,” and not just with New Year’s fireworks! We have a new United States President, and time will tell how this will all play out over the next months and years.

During the past 10 months, the Wine Society has been paying a lot of ongoing expenses, which has tapped into our financial reserves. We understand that since we have not had in-person activities, members have not had the usual events that our membership offers. Last March, the Board of Directors chose to suspend membership renewal fees starting April 1, 2020, and as a result, we have retained all of our members. The Board has now decided that after 12 months, we will resume requesting renewal fees starting April 1, 2021. If your renewal was April 1, 2020, we will request you renew on April 1, 2021. If your renewal was June 1, 2020, we will request you renew on June 1, 2021. 

The Wine Society continues to have our social events virtually since we are still under pandemic restrictions. We know that several of our OCWS members have contracted COVID-19, and we wish them all fast and complete recoveries.

We have several Sunday sessions planned, which are always entertaining and well attended. In January, we added new events, our “Varietal Hours,” which are conducted as Zoom meetings (as opposed to Zoom webinars), allow us to see everyone on the screen. Our first two Varietal Hours were on January 11 and January 18 and were well received by everyone. We can all use more social interaction in these trying times, and we hope to see a lot more of you in the coming weeks! 

We are still making preparations to conduct our Commercial Wine Competition and Home Wine Competition in June, pending opening up our environments as we approach these events. The Orange County Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) is making their plans for the 2021 OC Fair, and we plan to be fully involved, so keep the dates open. I will keep you informed as we hear more information from the State and the OCFEC for any updates to the situation.

The vaccinations for COVID-19 are now available for many people, with more of us becoming eligible every week. We hope that as more and more people get vaccinated, the OCFEC and the whole world will start opening up, and we can begin to resume our OCWS activities. 

In the meantime, I hope everyone stays healthy and safe in these trying times.   

 Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, as we all look forward to an ending to these pandemic lockdowns that we have all endured. This past year has certainly been one to remember, and we have all been saddened by the lack of social interaction with our friends and families, and get-togethers with our Orange County Wine Society family.

The year 2021 will bring us new concerns and yet plenty of hope. The U.S. Electors have voted for Joe Biden to be our new President on January 20, 2021. The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is now rolling out, which will be the beginning of the end of the “pandemic year from …” (you know what I mean).  Hopefully our social lives will slowly return to normal, but we probably won’t get all the way there in 2021.

Over the next few months, the OCWS Board is looking at starting up more modified activities, all dependent on State, local and OCFEC guidelines. I will keep you updated when we can start to schedule in-person events.

The OCFEC is still unsure of what the 2021 OC Fair will look like. From their recent articles published in newspapers, they are looking at an option of doing an 18-day OC Fair, limited to just 30,000 visitors per day to allow for social distancing. Their decisions directly affect the OCWS, and we are following their projections as we make plans for our 2021 wine competitions and the Courtyard during the OC Fair.

The news reports project that the COVID-19 vaccine will be readily available this coming summer. We hope that as more and more people get inoculated, we may look forward to the OCFEC opening the Fairgrounds to events next autumn or winter so we can start resuming our on-site activities. Time will tell, and in this case, we hope those times come quickly. 

Stay healthy everyone, and I look forward to “seeing” you all on our virtual seminars!   

 Kevin Donnelly, President

President’s Message

Welcome everyone to the last month of what has been the most “interesting” year of our lives. As of this writing, it appears we will have a new U.S. President next month, which is either causing us jubilation or angst, but either way we are all wondering what will come next. Our uncertainty about the […]
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President’s Message

Thanks to all of our members who joined the virtual Annual Business Meeting on Friday, September 11. Highlights of the year’s past events and the financial health of the organization were reviewed. A recording of this meeting will be available on the OCWS website to those of you who missed the live meeting. Special thanks to all of our presenters for helping to pull off this event. The highlight of the evening was the recognition of our volunteers who this past year contributed over 1,034 hours of volunteer time in support of the OCWS up through March when COVID-19 restrictions were implemented. Please see George Craven’s article in this edition for the details of those recognized.

This year, it was my honor and privilege to present the President’s Award to Kevin Coy for his many years of outstanding dedication and service to the OCWS as a Director, President, Cellar Master, and Director of Judges for the Commercial Wine Competition. Pictured is Kevin holding his award. Congratulations, Kevin!

At the September BOD meeting, Jim Beard, was recognized with the President Emeritus Award. This award is presented by the President with Board recommendation, as a special designation to acknowledge the dedication, time, and effort given to the OCWS by those who served as OCWS President, and who have continued to volunteer after their term of office has concluded. Congratulations, Jim!

This year’s BOD election has brought forth a great turnout of candidates. In addition to our first “virtual” Annual Business Meeting, we are conducting the election electronically this year. Thanks to Greg Hagadorn and the Election Committee for pulling this off. Please stay tuned to for information on the election results. Unfortunately, the Annual Installation Dinner is cancelled. I would like to thank outgoing Directors Brian McDonald for his dedicated service over the past six years, and Ken Scott for his expertise over the past three years. This will also conclude my six years of service on the Board.

As the outgoing President, I wish to thank all of my past fellow Board members for their service. A special thanks goes to my wife, Carolyn, whose encouragement and delightful sense of humor has supported me over the years and who introduced us to the OCWS over 19 years ago—it has been quite a journey!  Cheers,

 Bill Redding, President