Napa Valley Vintners & Michelin Guide 2016 Dinner

As a commercial photographer with a focus on food and wine in Napa and Sonoma, my work allows me to capture some of the best cuisine and vino the area has to offer. And what could be better than working with The Napa Valley VintnersThomas Keller and Bouchon Bistro in Yountville? After the successful opening of The French Laundry in 1998, Keller opened this French bistro in 2002, and it has become a world-renowned eatery. There is a symbiotic relationship between the wine and cuisine in Napa. Each one elevates the other, and the relationship relies on the success of each other. This partnership was celebrated when The Michelin Guide hosted a dinner for the Napa Valley Vintners prior to their 2016 Summit at Chef Keller’s iconic bistro, and I was there to photograph the event.  For a food and wine lover like myself, this was a great honor.  I wish you could have been there to feel the energy in the room and to experience the smells emanating from the kitchen. Chef Keller and his staff were extremely gracious and hospitable. This is a night I’ll never forget, and as 2016 comes to a close, it’s an assignment I’m extremely proud of and humbled by.

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Ehlers Estate Winery – Full Moon Harvest

When you or I walk into our favorite wine shop to purchase a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, we rarely think about the effort that goes into that one perfect bottle. I was given the opportunity to photograph the recent harvest of these lovely grapes at Ehlers Estate in Napa Valley. Situated in the St. Helena appellation, this winery practices a strict adherence to Biodynamic and organic farming methods. The harvest began at night under the light of the full moon and continued until sunrise the next morning. This experience was very surreal for me. I wish you could have been there to take in the smell of the earth and the fresh cut grapes. One of the most indelible moments of this experience for me was watching the hard work and pride of the team at Ehlers. It’s given me an entirely new appreciation for what goes into a beautiful bottle of wine. The next time I open a bottle of Ehlers Sauvignon Blanc, I will take the time to savor the smell, taste, and the spirit of the people that went in to creating it. I hope the images I captured will encourage you to do the same. Cheers!

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The Judgement of Paris – 40th Anniversary

It may be hard to believe but in the early 1970’s Napa Valley wine was considered to be less than desirable by wine enthusiasts. Especially those in France. That is until a British wine expert and merchant Steven Spurrier changed everything. Spurrier organized the 1976 wine competition known as “The Judgment of Paris”. The competition was a blind taste test of French and Napa Valley wines, which was won by the California entries. It thrust the region into what it is today. Forty years later Spurrier returned to Napa Valley for “The Judgement of Napa”, hosted by Jean-Charles Boisset, proprietor of Raymond Vineyards. The event was an invitation only event which served two purposes. One to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Paris competition, and the second a United State’s launch of Spurrier’s Bride Valley English Sparkling Wine.

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Always the gracious host Boisset treated attendees including members of the press and wine influncers to a friendly competition between Spurrier’s Sparkling Wine and his own No. 9 Russian River Valley Brut Blanc de Blancs 2009, in a blind tasting. These two pillars of the worldwide wine community have collaborated, with Boisset importing Bride Valley to The United States. Being the wine lover that I am, and living and working is this incredible Valley, you can only imagine how truly humbled I was to photograph this event.  I always enjoy working with J.C. Boisset for so many reasons, including his impeccable style, his graciousness, and his love of sharing his joy with others.  It’s a day that will go down in my life as one that I’ll never forget.

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Landmark Vineyards – Open House

Landmark Vineyards in Sonoma invited me to photograph their recent open house for their marketing efforts and I had a great time! When the day came there was a chill in the air, but the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Guests in attendance had the opportunity to taste a variety of wines accompanied by delicious cuisine.  I love Landmark’s labels. They have a luxurious texture and simplicity that made it easy to stage the bottles in unique situations. I used the native flowers on the property to showcase the bottles, and I’m so happy with the results. The rich colors of yellow flowers, purple lavendar and the green grass were a stunning contrast for the bottles.

You’ve noticed that we’ve been doing more experiential marketing photography lately. This combination of staged photography mixed with a live event is becoming very popular here in wine country, and I’m enjoying the medium. I love the everything about Northern California lifestyle, fine food and wine. I’m truly a blessed man to do what I love in the place I love.

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LEVELsleep – Commercial Shoot

Being a commercial photographer in Northern California, I find myself outside at stunning wineries shooting landscapes, vineyards, and rustic builders. But for my latest project for Levelsleep I moved inside to shoot models, mattresses, and a dog. My client LEVELsleep is a Bay Area mattress company that designs and manufactures mattresses to help people to sleep better. They don’t just offer a good looking mattress, but they have proven science behind it. Owners Roger Sramek and JJ Abodeely hired me to photograph their mattresses, their team, and situational shots with models for their marketing and advertising needs. Visit their website to view more of my images and to learn about these amazing mattresses and the technology behind them. My commercial work brings me great pride. Especially in a case like this where my imagery helps a great company to tell their story.

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JCB Tasting Salon & Atelier by JCB – Open House

Many of my commercial clients are working with experiential marketing. This is where an event or “experience” is combined with commercial shooting. In addition to energy charged imagery, the consumer becomes part of an actual experience. Such was the case for my latest shoot with JCB Tasting Salon & Atelier by JCB. It was a combined shoot with branding and commercial images for their advertising and marketing through an open house. The Atelier by JCB is a epicurean boutique in the heart of Yountville featuring an assortment of culinary delights, as well as high-end retail items carefully curated by Jean-Charles Boisset himself. As with everything Jean-Charles touches, the tasting room and retail atelier is decadent and gorgeous.

At the open house nothing but the best was on display for guests to enjoy from the finest JCB wines to epicurean delights that are featured in the salon. I’m very lucky to be part of this world that reflects the joy of JCB and his desire to share it!

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Cakebread Cellars – Bottle Shots

Commercial advertising and marketing shoots are something I love working on. Especially when they are for such a great winery, like Cakebread Cellars.  I spent a full day shooting beautiful bottle shots and images of the winery. The photos will be used for their upcoming advertising and marketing.  I staged the bottles in different areas of the winery, photographed the vineyard, and even got some shots of the inner workings of the winery itself. I’m very proud of these images, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they use them.

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Cakebread Cellars Open House

Cakebread Cellars recently hosted an Open House at their winery, with the goal of treating their guests to a sensory experience while capturing new images for their marketing. They brought me in to shoot the event with the concept of providing commercial and lifestyle images during a live event. I’ve been doing more and more of this style of shoot lately, and it’s something I’m really enjoying. It’s a great new way to do commercial marketing and it feels more fluid when I’m shooting around a actual event. I was chosen because the winery was attracted to my style which they felt conveys warmth, color, and texture. Through my camera I was able to show Cakebread Cellars’ commitment to quality and hospitality. Through the movement of a live event I was able to evoke the craftsmanship that goes into their wine making and the comadery that their guests enjoy during an event. I loved shooting the food and wine offerings that engaged all the senses. After all, isn’t that what food and wine is all about? It should engage the eyes, the nose and the palate. I worked very hard to ensure that I kept all of Cakebread’s goals in mind, and I’m so proud of the final product. I think I really helped to tell their story through my lens.

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Lucy Restaurant and Bar – Garden To Glass

Lucy Restaurant and Bar is an establishment that believes that everything starts from the garden. It’s located in Bardessono, a world-class luxury hotel in the town of Yountville, practicing green operations. So it’s only natural that the restaurant would foster the same eco-spirit as the hotel. The restaurant sources many of their ingredients from their own garden, as well as from local Napa growers with a Farm to Fork Philosophy. The bar has a similar philosophy of Garden to Glass. They are a commercial client I love working with, so it was easy for me to capture Jan Russell, manager of bar operations and her love of artisinal cocktails using the garden’s own ingredients. It’s evident to see in the images that the philosophy is not just a modern catch phrase, but instead a honest to goodness promise of practicing what they preach. Utilizing their own year-around-garden, with a focus on seasonal produce, Jan creates inspired cocktails that are both pleasing to the eye and the palate. Her cocktails embody the colors and flavors that are nurtured in the property’s lush and fragrant gardens. It was a great experience for me to watch Jan choose fruits and herbs that inspire her, and then to watch her behind the bar creating cocktails that she is proud to serve to the patrons of the bar. I can attest to the fact they were as fragrant, fresh and mouth watering as they look! Thank you for a great time Jan. It was so much fun watching you work.

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Blackbird Vineyards & Bulgari – Ma(i)sonry Dinner

This is the second installment of a shoot that I did at Ma(i)sonry in Yountville in the same day. In addition to doing a commercial shoot at this beautiful location for Restoration Hardware, the garden was the scene for a welcome dinner for the 35th Annual Auction Napa Valley. The private dinner was hosted by Blackbird Vineyards and Bulgari. This impressive wine-pairing dinner was expertly prepared by renowned Chef Victor Scargle. As this was part of the fundraising auction, models mingled with guests adorned in Bulgari jewels which were up for auction. On the dining table were more jewels and watches by Bulgari under glass. As a lover of food wine, and the finer things in life, this was a real treat for me. Some of my images landed on the DuJour Blog. Check out the whole story here.

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