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Enthusiasm in a Bottle

April 02, 1999

It was a pretty simple drill when the Orange County Wine Society met recently for an afternoon of tastings: just hand each of the 900 wine aficionados an empty glass and slowly back away from the table.

These fans of the red and the white did the rest. Those attending the 19th annual Wine Extraordinaire, held at the Anaheim Marriott's ballroom, swirled, sniffed and sipped offerings from 70 boutique wineries, those that make less than 30,000 cases a year.

Proceeds from the $50 tickets will support the society's education and scholarship programs, which help students at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa as well as UC Davis, Cal State Fresno, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

The 23-year-old group is best known for organizing the commercial and home wine contests at the Orange County Fair each summer.

Beyond that, the society keeps active with monthly tastings, trips to wine-growing regions and weekend cruises. A subgroup, the Grub and Groggers, caravans to restaurants to enjoy price-fixed dinners and, of course, to drink all sorts of good stuff.

As Carolyn Schoff, who joined the group a dozen years ago when she turned 21, says: "If you're not busy, there's something wrong."

Upcoming events include a tasting at the Doubletree Hotel in Costa Mesa on April 9 and a wine auction at the Wine Pavilion at the Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on April 11 ($25 for each event).

Contact the Orange County Wine Society at (714) 708-1636 or visit its Web site at County

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