Meeting and Staying Social from a Distance

These past months have been challenging for all of us in the Orange County Wine Society. This has caused the OCWS to rely more heavily on our older methods and get creative with new ways to keep in touch with our members. Our last in-person Quarterly Meeting was held in February, and we all miss them dearly.

The Winemakers’ Group has leaned in to use all tools available to communicate with both our new winemakers as well as our more experienced (notice I’m not saying “OLD”) members. We collaborated with Sara Yeoman and her team to provide additional content to be included in the virtual Summer Sunday Seminar series under topics titled “Winemaking for Mere Mortals” and twice-featured “Filtering, Fining and Bottling.”

Adapting to this “2020 norm” (hoping it’s not the NEW norm), we have conducted our Group Bottle and Group Cork Purchases, and now that we are in grape picking season, we are conducting our Group Grape Purchase over email and Constant Contact.

The Winemakers’ Group continues to conduct its programs, and for that, we have also turned to video conferencing over the Zoom platform. Thus far, under our group training program, we presented a 5-session class on “Kit Wine Making” where viewers followed along with their kit wines while instructor, Karyl Newton, made a kit wine on camera. We just conducted a lecture to support the Group Grape Purchase, discussing “How to Order Grapes,” and “How to Pick Up the Grapes” in which Bill Forsch discussed procedures, and Bruce Powers did some crushing and destemming of his estate Sangiovese grapes over the Zoom virtual platform.

We conducted our “Pre-Fermentation” seminar for both red and white wines, and will be hosting a “Post Crush” seminar in a virtual setting. In spring, we will repeat the “Filtering, Fining and Bottling” seminar as we get ready to finish up our 2020 vintage wines and start all over with 2021. We are also brainstorming with the idea of having a Winemakers’ Group meeting in a virtual platform where everyone has their video turned on so that we may see dozens of “newer and older” faces.

While utilizing a virtual platform is not an ideal substitute for in-person meetings, it offers us a new way to snub our noses at the quarantine, while staying safe and keeping a safe distance. Continuing to build close, strong relationships can be challenging when communicating and connecting in a virtual setting with our remote members in order to engage, educate, and entertain – meeting that challenge is top of mind.

We all hope and look forward to when we can return to our “pre-2020 norm,” but in the meantime, keep a bottle of (maybe homemade?) wine close, and I look forward to seeing you all, for the time being, in a virtual setting soon!

– Kevin Donnelly