President’s Message

President’s Message

This year’s highly successful Commercial Wine Competition, co-sponsored by the OCWS and the OCFEC, was held June 1 and June 2 at the Costa Mesa Hilton Hotel. The event took place under the direction of Competition Chair, Leslie Brown and Head of Judges Kevin Coy, along with Jane Goodnight and the Wine Competition Committee. The event featured 2,919 entries with 142 varietals entered. Eighty-nine Judges from throughout California, in panels of 5 judges, scored the wines entered.

To accomplish this precision undertaking required over 250 volunteers who contributed approximately 5,800 hours mailing brochures, making calls to wineries, receiving and cataloging wines under the direction of Liz and Lloyd Corbett, bagging, moving, washing and drying glasses, stewarding, wine verification and scoring, and data entry of the results. After the Competition, the award-winning wines were photographed and the winners made available online at This Commercial Wine Competition website allows anyone to search for wines by award, price, sugar, varietal or winery. Kudos to Stacey Taylor for developing this comprehensive informational Wine Competition site.

A few interesting highlights from this year’s Commercial Wine Competition:

  • Entries—43% of our entries were from wineries new to the Competition. A record 256 cases of wine were delivered on a single day!
  • New Varietals—Falanghina, Macabeo and Norton.
  • Label Competition Awards—Best of Show—1849 Wine Company. Look for the label display at The Courtyard during the OC Fair.

The Home Wine Competition was held last month on Saturday, June 15 and was supported by almost 200 persons who volunteered as judges, stewards, administrators,

President’s Message

The months of June through September are among the busiest times for the OCWS. In June, the Commercial Wine and Home Wine Competitions are held. The Commercial Wine Competition will either be in progress or completed by the time The Wine Press hits your mailbox. The Home Wine Competition is two weeks later this year, Saturday, June 15. With a brief break, we will enter into a very active wine Courtyard during the annual OC Fair held from July 13 thru August 12. In September, election of Directors for the OCWS Board and the Annual Business meeting will be held.

All of this is not a surprise to many of you!  These activities and events take a tremendous amount of member volunteers to accomplish. With my apologies in advance for anyone not mentioned, I would like to spotlight some of the major efforts that are currently or will be taking place to accomplish the events mentioned.

The Commercial Competition Committee, chaired by Leslie Brown and Head of Judges Kevin Coy, supported by the Committee has been recruiting wineries—thanks to Ken Scott and Terry McLean; receiving and cataloging wines for judging—thanks to Liz and Lloyd Corbett and crew. The weekend of May 31 through June 2 will see hundreds of our members working to bring wines and supplies to and from the Hilton Hotel, serving as stewards, score verifiers, data processors, and drying thousands of glasses! Thanks to Ken and Irene Scott for organizing this small army of volunteers.

The Home Wine Competition requires judges, stewards, scoring, glass washing and drying, and food servers. This event is once again under the care of Kevin Donnelly and Jim Downey. Thanks to all of you who have signed up to make this event a success.

The Courtyard will once again be staffed by hundreds of volunteers serving and educating the public about wine and the mission of the OCWS. Thanks to Brian McDonald, Fran Gitsham, and Rich Skoczylas for leading The Courtyard Committee.

See you all at the Fair!

– Bill Redding, President

President’s Message

In the February edition of The Wine Press, I encouraged everyone to try some new things. I am happy to report that I have visited a winery that is new to me and will definitely be added to my list of wineries to re-visit.

The OCWS also sponsored our first Wine Education Seminar which was well attended and garnered great reviews. The second in the series, “Wines of Bordeaux,” was held on April 14. Kudos to Irene Scott, Wine Education Chair, for getting this series going. Do not miss out on future wine education seminar opportunities.

If that was not enough, April was also the month for our Annual Wine Auction that was attended by a record number of members. Thanks to all the dozens of volunteers who made this event such a success, and to the members who purchased auction lots to help sustain us financially.

In rapid succession, April 12 was the Red Soles Winery program, April 27 the Rhone Mini-Tasting, and the Champagne Brunch was held at Newport Landing on April 28. Please thank the Event Chairs, volunteers and hosts when you see them.

There are so many new members attending our events for the first time. If you are one of our “veteran” members, please introduce yourself, invite someone to sit at your table, offer assistance, and make them feel welcome.

With the 2019 Commercial Wine Competition on June 1 and 2 and the 2019 Home Wine Competition on June 15, a lot will be happening on the competition side of the OCWS. If you are interested in volunteering for either of these events, please refer to The Wine Press or visit our website at for more details. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

President’s Message

Over the years, many members have asked, what happens to all of those bottles? They are, of course, referring to the wines that are entered into the OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition which is co-hosted by the OCWS. The entries take quite a journey from wineries to a multitude of uses once they arrive at the Orange County Fair & Event Center (OCFEC). Each winery submits six bottles so each step involves a lot of duplicate maneuvers. Last year there were over 2,700 entries with 126 varietals!

The wines are received by the Wine Competition Committee and then cataloged and labeled in preparation for the judging in June. The entry to this competition is free! Bottles are labeled with a unique code for each bottle. The bottles that will be judged are “bagged” and labeled, sorted by sugar level and price categories so that wines are judged fairly to ensure a high priced wine is not judged against a low priced wine. Two of these six bottles are then sorted and put into judging categories, e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon (CS-1) bottles “A” and “B.” The bottles are then judged in a blind tasting by a panel of five judges with the “B” bottle held in reserve in the event the judges wish to re-judge a wine.

After the Competition, the remaining wines are then sorted again by varietal and placed into groups—those that were awarded a medal and those which were not. These wines are put into the OCWS Cellar and are offered to the public at The Courtyard during the annual Orange County Fair. Some are available as “Award” winning wines for taste. Others are used and poured on the “varietal” side for sale by the glass. This is a great opportunity to try many wines in one location, so come on by and tell your family and friends to come to The Courtyard and support the OCWS.

The remaining bottles are then re-sorted by varietal, medal and price and placed into either verbal lots or silent auction lots. This is the second fundraising event that makes the Commercial Wine Competition possible. This year’s Auction is Saturday, April 6; sign up online or even at the door. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

President’s Message

We are off to another busy year, and a lot of work is already being done by our member volunteers for the OCWS major events. The Wine Auction group is busy working on getting wines sorted, bagged and ready for our annual Wine Auction, one of only two revenue sources for our organization. The OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition, co-hosted by the OCWS, has begun its work of soliciting entries, arranging for judges, and planning the 2019 Wine Competition. If that isn’t enough, The Courtyard Committee is also hard at work planning to open and operate The Courtyard during this year’s OC Fair. This year’s theme is “Acres of Fun,” and the OC Fair runs from Friday, July 12 through Sunday, August 11.

There are hundreds of members who make the OCWS the successful organization that it is. I am constantly amazed at our members’ willingness to help out, even for events that they may not be able to attend. It is our members who make this organization great!   Many of these people do so in the background contributing hundreds of hours utilizing their skills and their passions to our benefit.

This month I would like to recognize Linda Mihalik who has taken on the responsibility of putting together our superb newsletter,  The Wine Press. Each month she receives numerous articles highlighting our activities. Linda then deftly weaves these together, receives input from our sharp-eyed editors and gets the final edition ready for publication on our website and to be sent to the printer for mailing. Linda, on behalf of the Board of Directors, Committee Chairs and members, thank you for a job appreciated by all. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

President’s Message

2019 is now upon us and New Year’s resolutions have been made by many. My New Year’s resolution is to attempt “new” things. I am going to work towards discovering a new wine I haven’t tried, visiting new wineries that I haven’t yet been to, making a wine out of a varietal that is new to me. You get the idea. Fortunately, my membership in the OCWS is going to help make this resolution a reality. I invite you to share in this new journey. There are a host of activities and events to choose from with details of upcoming events in this edition of The Wine Press.

Your OCWS is also working on “new.” Wine Education Chair Irene Scott, along with Director Leslie Hodowanec, are busy working on wine education seminars and articles that will help members to learn, understand, and enjoy wine. With so many new members, some who are new to wine, these seminars will be a great opportunity for something new and even for existing members to expand their wine knowledge and fine-tune their wine palate. Additional details on the seminars can be found in this edition of The Wine Press.

In addition, Leslie Hodowanec along with member Greg Risling, will be working on wine field trips to Orange County wineries. Please stay tuned for more information as these trips develop this year. Any guesses as to how many wineries are located in the OC? 

The first Winery Program for this year was held last month at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel featuring Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard. Winemaker Karen Steinwachs gave an incredible, fun, and informative presentation on the wines with interesting commentary on the Santa Barbara Region, the Santa Ynez Valley, and Los Olivos District AVAs. In keeping with the “new” theme, 19 of our new Members attended this event and were treated to Karen’s humor and love of wine as well as two wines that had their premier at the tasting. Don’t miss out on future Winery Programs this year. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President


President’s Message

It has been great to see so many of our new members coming to OCWS events and getting involved in the many activities offered. Please take the opportunity to introduce yourself to our Board of Directors at upcoming events; we would love to meet you! As we embark on our 43rd year of existence, I would like to highlight and thank some of our founding and long-standing members, Judi Brady, Jim Graver, and Charley Owen for their continued support and participation in the Wine Society.

We are off to another year of activities and events beginning with the Buttonwood Winery tasting on January 11 at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa and our Dine with Wine event at Pescadou Bistro in Newport Beach on January 16.

The Commercial Wine Competition Committee, chaired by Leslie Brown, has already begun to plan this year’s Competition which is scheduled for Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2. This year’s Home Wine Competition, chaired by Kevin Donnelly, is scheduled for Saturday, June 15. The Annual Wine Auction will be on Saturday, April 6. The Auction is one of two sources of revenue for the Wine Society, and we hope to see you there. George Cravens is busy working on the Mini-Tasting themes for this year, so stay tuned. There are ongoing events and activities every month, so don’t delay in signing up online for events which are of interest to you.

The primary point of contact with our members is through their profile information contained on our website at Please take the time to review your information and update your email, phone, and mailing address information by accessing MyAccount>MyProfile after logging in. The Chairs of OCWS events and the office staff rely on the accuracy of this information.

On behalf of the entire OCWS Board of Directors and staff, we wish everyone a Happy New Year!  Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

President’s Wine Snips – Holiday Season

The Holiday Season is well under way, and our annual Holiday Dinner & Dance was once again enjoyed by our members to kick off the Season. Our members showed off their dance steps to the music of the “Three 2 Sevens” and generously donated gifts to the Costa Mesa Fire Department’s “Spark of Love” children’s gift drive. Many thanks to Brian and Sue McDonald for their outstanding efforts in arranging the event.

As a reminder, the Winemakers’ Group Holiday Party is just around the corner.

The Holiday Season is the perfect time to spend time with family and friends and enjoy wonderful food and, of course, wine!  Need a special wine to celebrate or for a gift? The OCWS website has a great tool to search for award-winning wines from the OCFEC Commercial Wine Competition hosted by the OCWS. Log into or to find that perfect wine.

The Director Responsibility list has been assigned, and you can find this information on the OCWS website under About >Our Organization and in this month’s Newsletter. Please contact the appropriate Director should you have any questions.

The OCWS will once again have a busy schedule of events in 2019. I encourage you to fill in the upcoming events on your personal 2019 calendars so you don’t miss out on the events of interest to you. The Save the Date column in each Newsletter provides the dates of all upcoming events.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we wish you a happy Holiday Season and a healthy New Year.

Please remember to drink responsibly and consider using a designated driver or ride service. Cheers!

– Bill Redding, President

President’s Wine Snips – 2018 President’s Award

Every year the President has the privilege of awarding the President’s Award to people or persons who are the personification of amazing volunteers. This year, the President’s Award was presented to a couple who singlehandedly raised almost $6,000 for our scholarship fund at The Courtyard during the 2018 OC Fair by creating and running the Featured Winery Program.

Having been Directors on the Board at one time or another, both of them know exactly what they are doing when they commit to something, and they do it amazingly well. Together they took over receiving and cataloging wine entries for the 2018 Commercial Wine Competition and, for those of you who don’t know the magnitude of that commitment, they were responsible for 2,708 entries and 16,248 bottles of wine!

Together they recreated our OCWS merchandise sales program and have selflessly given their time to have a merchandise table set up at nearly all events, including during the Winery Programs, the Commercial Wine Competition, and Annual Business Meeting. These are just a few ways they have contributed to the organization over the years. Words cannot do justice to the kindness and love they exude. No matter how much they are thanked, it will never be enough. So when your paths cross with theirs, please say thanks for their dedication and commitment to the OCWS and, if given the opportunity, pour them just a tad of great wine and raise a glass to them.

Congratulations, thanks and cheers to Liz and Lloyd Corbett.

– Fran Gitsham, Past President

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