Sensory Wine Tasting | Stags Leap Winery

Grapes were first planted on the property of Stages Leap Winey in 1872.  It is a gorgeous and storied estate that creates fantastic wines.  I recently had the pleasure to photograph the property and several of their different wine and food tasting experiences.


Napa Valley Vintners Holiday Party With A Purpose

It’s the most wonderful time of the year here in Napa! Everyone is in the spirit of giving and the holiday parties are in abundance. This celebration, in particular, had a purpose. The Napa Valley Vintners goal is to consistently produce wines of the highest quality and to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. Imagine all the wineries and winemakers in Napa converging to give back to needy children. That’s exactly what they did at Copia. Copia is a revitalized event space in the Culinary Institute of America in Downtown Napa. Each guest brought one or two bottles of their wine to share with their fellow winemakers and to donate toys for children in need. The venue is an amazing modern space set up for food exhibitions, tastings, and events.  To see everyone coming together to celebrate and give back to the community makes me burst with pride in my city.

On Christmas morning there will be some very happy kids in this valley and I’m glad I was there to witness the generosity of those who made it possible.

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San Antonio Winery – Cabernet Harvest

What do you think when you enjoy a rich glass of Cabernet? Do you savor the flavors and try to identify the subtleties that give the vintage it’s unique characteristics? I hope this post will help you to go further into what makes a beautiful bottle of wine. I recently photographed the fall harvest for San Antonio Winery’s Napa vineyard operations. The winemakers and the crew harvested at night and into the early morning, so I had to use all of my lighting skills to get this right. It was amazing shooting as the sun came up and witnessing the live art show the sky over Napa creates. The deep color of the grapes will be an indelible image for me. On this shoot I did something a little different and took wide angle shots of the entire vineyard. You can see how vast it is, and imagine how many grapes had to be picked.

As I watched the crew picking the grapes by hand, it made me appreciate that beautiful glass of wine all the more. Not only do the grapes absorb what is in the soil, and in the air around them, but I now see the character of the wine is also in the people who cultivate the vintage.

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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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Caldwell Vineyard – Napa Jazz Getaway

Caldwell Vineyard hosted a private concert by Jazz Pianist Brian Culbertson. I was so lucky to be present to capture the images of another great Napa Valley event. The performance and subsequent private wine tasting was part of Culbertson’s annual “Napa Valley Jazz Get Away“. Culberston is the founder of this exciting jazz festival that brings the best musicians to our valley annually. I had such a great time photographing this event for the winery. Guests were treated to everything that Caldwell Vineyard has to offer. After watching Culbertson’s brilliant performance, everyone enjoyed multiple wine tasting stations. One of the highlights of the event was the tasting of limited production Moone Tsai wines. As if all of this wasn’t fabulous enough, Caldwell’s master barrel cooper gave a demonstration of his barrel making. At this time Caldwell is the only winery in Napa has their own full time master cooper. Watching this craftsmanship in person was a real treat for a wine lover like me.

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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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