Chris Cunningham Memorial Bar—aka The Express Bar

With the opening of the Fair and The Courtyard last month, many members and patrons visiting The Wine Courtyard noticed a  change to the Express Bar.

During his 40 years as a member of the Wine Society, Chris Cunningham held various positions ranging from President, Vice President and Director. He had a tremendous passion for wine, wine education and, quite frankly, meeting both wine novices and connoisseurs who visited The Courtyard to enjoy a glass of wine or two. The Courtyard was his domain, and Chris never hesitated to share his vast knowledge of California wine regions, winemakers, wineries or varietals. His wine seminars were enjoyed by many over the years and sold out on numerous occasions.

Chris proposed the highly successful Express Bar at The Courtyard during the OC Fair, offering patrons an alternative option to purchase one of four popular varietals—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. The design of the bar was proposed by Express Bar Committee members Betty Jo and Jay Newall. Brian McDonald, Liz and Lloyd Corbett, Fran Gitsham, Irene and Ken Scott, along with the Newalls envisioned many other options to utilize the bar. Liz and Lloyd Corbett saw a unique opportunity to utilize this space by creating the very popular Featured Winery Program, always a sell out for wineries wanting to showcase their wines in this unique space and introduce their winery. The Express Bar Committee worked diligently and collaboratively to present a unique and functional Express Bar.

Chris passed away in March of 2018, however his legacy continues with the beautifully designed and very functional wine bar. The bar frame is made of steel and is on casters to make it easily movable. It was designed in three separate modules, each module latch connected. Separately, each segment is 6’ wide and 28” deep. A solid wood countertop provides easy cleaning, and the internal shelves allow for cases of wine to be stored on shelves as well as large trays for ice with wine for easy access. Outside of The Courtyard, this bar has multi-functional purposes.

This would not have been possible without the generous donation by the Cunningham family with funds earmarked for a new Express Bar. Cheers to Chris and to the Cunningham family.

– OCWS Board of Directors