Symphony Winefest Fundraiser Exceeds Expectations: Amateur Wine Makers Win Awards in Professional Judging

The Home Wine and Beer Makers’ Festival at Lakeport’s Library Park was, according to organizers, “A great success.” The annual Winefest (as it has been abbreviated) is the largest fundraiser for the Lake County Symphony Association (LCSA) and helps provide operating expenses for the Lake County Symphony. Much of the funds raised go to support youth and community programs that include music lessons and scholarships and to help cover transportation and lodging costs for non-local musicians who play in the symphony. Conductor John Parkinson manned the Symphony booth with help from symphony violinists Andi Skelton and Sue Condit.

It was the first Winefest in two years, thanks to Covid19, and planners were hopeful of a good turnout to make up for lost time. “We had good crowds and ticket sales were similar to previous years,” said Carl Fredrickson, president of the Symphony Wine Club, which was created over 20 years ago to make good amateur wines and provide a regular source of funds for the LCSA. “Even the weather cooperated,” he said. “Temperatures were in the 80’s and it was not too hot.”  Amateur wine makers had a chance to enter their wines for professional judging, which took place earlier in the day, prior to the start of the Winefest.

The late Connel Murray, raises a glass at his 90th birthday celebration. He founded the Symphony Wine Club and started the annual Wine and Beer Makers’ Festival.

Everyone who bought a ticket was eligible to taste the commercial and amateur wine and beers showcased at the festival, and to vote on their favorites for the coveted People’s Choice Awards. Others just came for the food, the crafts, the excellent music performed by David Neft on keyboard and Steve Dubois on drums, the silent auction, the raffle, or to walk their dogs; non-wine and beer drinkers did not have to purchase a ticket to enjoy the rest of the Fest, making it an event that was truly open to everyone in the community.

It was a long day for organizers and helpers who had to set up booths early in the day (and take them down much later) and do the “behind the scenes” work necessary to make everything run smoothly. Bert Hutt, announcer extraordinaire, was one of the busiest, keeping the crowd informed of time limits in the raffle and the Silent Auction, and staying until the very end to give out ribbons to winners of the People’s Choice Award with help from Cornelia Sieber, A.K.A. the P.C. “wizard,” who made the event go ever so smoothly.

Tie Dye Planet had a busy day at the 2022 Winefest.

Amateur Wine Makers Win Awards in Professional Judging

The morning before the start of the Lake County Symphony Association Wine and Beer Makers’ Festival, local judging took place to award winners of the best wines made by amateurs.

Merry Jo Velasquez was the big winner, with four gold ribbons for her Rose, Red-Other, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Others who won gold ribbons were Doug Moore for his Reisling, LCSA Wine Club for its Sauvignon Blanc and Jerry Martinez for his White-Other.

Silver Ribbons went to LCSA Wine Club for Reisling and Rose, Jerry Martinez for Sauvignon Blanc, Luciano Meconi for Red-Other, David Pretari for Zinfandel and John Zirelli for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bronze ribbons went to Merry Jo Velasquez for Sauvignon Blanc, Scott Knickmeyer for Rose, the LCSA Wine Club for Red-Other, John Zirelli for Zinfandel, and Doug Moore for Cabernet Sauvignon.

This event was open to all amateur wine makers who signed up in advance and provided bottles to be evaluated in a blind tasting. Judges were Scott Simkover of Smiling Dogs Ranch, Bonnie Sears of Beckstoffer Vineyards, Buffy Thomas of Thorn Hill Winery and Mt. Konocti Winery and Susan Feiler, local Wine Aficionado. The wine judging coordinator was David Velasquez. Dan Mardock tabulated the results of the judging.

Congrats to People’s Choice Winners at Wine & Beer Makers Festival

Each year during the Wine and Beer Makers’ Festival, amateur participants eagerly await the counting of the votes to see if they are a winner of the coveted People’s Choice Awards. Here is the list of the happy People’s Choice winners for the 2022 Winefest which took place on June 11 at Library Park in Lakeport. The winners were decided on by Winefest attendees who voted for their favorites in a variety of categories.

David Petrari                                       Red Wine (Zinfandel)

Doug Moore                                        White Wine (Dry Reisling)

Michelle Shultz                                    Other Wine (Walnut Wine)

Bill Heubel                                           Light Beer (IPA)

Kerry Shaver                                        Dark Beer (Belgium Sour)

Paul Lew                                              Other Brew (Peach Seltzer)

Merry Jo Velasquez                             Best Booth (Heron House)

Deborah Welch                                   Best Wine Label (Squirrel Hill)

Thanks to ALL for Participation and Generous Support for the 2022 Winefest

This year’s Home Wine and Beer Makers’ Festival was a winner! Thanks to all who donated to help the Lake County Symphony!

A&H General Store                                                                                                                            

Angelina’s Bakery                   

Arti Café

Andi Skelton Fiddle Lessons   

Ann Carson Jewelry   

Bunk House Gifts

B&T Wood and Jewels                       

Braitos’ Riviera Foods

Bruno’s Shop Smart

Congressman Mike Thompson          

Carleton Cooper Tires

Cindy Langley Yard Art

Chalerm Thai Bistro

David Zellerbach

David Neft

David Farrell (The Puzzle Guy)

Drs. David and Merry Jo Velasquez

Dr. Dhanda

Diane Stawicki, artist

Disney’s Boat Rentals

Diana Liebe-Artist

Doug & Kerry Moore

Deborah Welch

Erwin Ludwig

Foods, Etc.

Griffin’s Furniture

Grinders Steep

Gregory Graham Winery

Garry Colson-Artist

Green Heron Dispensary

Hillside Power Sports

Jerry & Patti Martinez

Laura Silva-Artist

Little River Inn

Lynne Bruner

Laujor Winery

Lakeport Automotive

Mendo Mill Lakeport

Nimble Needle

Pet Country Store and Groomers

Pogo’s Pizza

Rainbow Ag

Riviera Hills Restaurant & Lounge

Romi’s Brew & BBQ

Robinson’s Rancheria

Renee’s Café

Safeway Clearlake and Lakeport


Six Sigma Ranch & Winery

Style and Soul Boutique

Suzanna Macedo

Tamra and Denny Renfrow

Tie Dye Planet

Twin Pine Casino & Hotel

Verve Coffee Roasters

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