In Memoriam—Jim Graver

The OCWS Winemakers’ Group and the OCWS Society has lost a dear friend, Jim Graver. As one of the originators of the Orange County Wine Society and the founder of the OCWS Home Wine Group in 1980, Jim passed away on February 6.

Jim Graver was the first President of the OCWS and continued to lead the Winemakers’ Group and the OC Fair’s Home Wine Competition for many years, until he finally retired from these positions after 36 years in 2015.

In 2016, the OCWS recognized him by naming him an OCWS President Emeritus. He was a really good overall winemaker, but he was a fabulous fruit winemaker. Jim won the 2019 and 2020 Best of Show for fruit wines.

Legendary stories of Jim “taking” his wines out of consideration for Best of Show when he was the Home Wine Competition Chairman are retold often! Jim was so humble he did not feel that a wine that he had submitted should overshadow others!  He simply made his own wines ineligible to receive any Best of Show consideration!

View a short clip of an impromptu interview of Jim taken during a Home Wine Competition conducted by Wendy Taylor at:

He was a friend and a mentor to every single one of us, teaching us the intricacies of winemaking and bringing us up from mediocre quality from those early days to wines we are highly proud of in today’s Home Wine Competitions, matching and exceeding many commercial wines.

Jim was an avid photographer and nearly all of us through the years have received copies of photos Jim took of us at some event or competition that served to remind us of those wonderful times we had and allowed us to recall those fond memories.

As great a leader and mentor as Jim was for so many of us, he was also one of the finest “men” that we’ve ever met. Truly humble, genuinely sincere, and always engaged and interested in “you.” Jim will be so much missed, but will never be forgotten!

– Kevin Donnelly & Bill Forsch,
Thoughts and comments contributed by two friends