Premiere Napa Valley

Hands down, Premiere Napa Valley is one of my favorite weeks to be in the valley. Throughout the year there are many incredible events, but few truly exemplify greatness like Premiere Napa Valley. This ultra-exclusive, trade-only event is held annually at the end of February, where retailers, sommeliers, media, and distributors from all over the world come to network and build relationships with more than 200 of Napa Valley’s winemakers.

The grand event is always made up of an auction, in which all proceeds of the more than 200 unique lots of wine go to help fund the Vintners Association itself, who help to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation. The wines are all unique creations and made specifically for Premiere, offering purchasers the opportunity to own an incredibly rare wine that often represents the very pinnacle of the winemaker’s efforts in that vintage.

The other part of the of Premiere Napa Valley always is a barrel tasting, in which attendees can taste their way through some of the producers’ top offerings; again, each made in very small lots with maximum attention to detail.

I am incredibly fortunate and excited to capture the buzz of Premiere once again this week at the CIA at Greystone in St. Helena. Stay tuned on my Instagram for in-the-moment coverage of this amazing event!


V Foundation Celebration Dinner on Wappo Hill

Perched high atop Wappo Hill on a warm summer’s night, glamorous guests adorned in Rubin Singer gowns softly clinked their crystal flutes sparkling with JCB Haute Couture French bubbles. The setting sun cast a warm glow on the historic Wappo Hill home, which tonight was graciously opened up by legendary vintners Gina Gallo and Jean-Charles Boisset.

However, the glamor and beauty of this evening went far beyond the fine wine and couture fashion.  Gems of Napa was an intimate celebration with some of Napa’s top vintners with the same goal: supporting the V Foundation for cancer research. As the red carpet was rolled out, guests had the opportunity to meet and mingle with the female powerhouses of Napa Valley: Gina Gallo, Michelle Baggett, Heidi Barrett, Blakesley Chappellet, Beth Nickel, Amy Marks Dornbusch and Helen Keplinger, to name a few. All were studded in a custom-designed gown by well-renowned fashion designer Rubin Singer, reflecting his Resort 2018 collection.

The show didn’t just stop there – models sauntered around the lavish grounds and the indoor pool in their designer frocks while guests sipped and savored their way through a multi-course dinner by Chef Victor Scargle, accompanied by exquisite wine pairings.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be among not only among such a beautiful crowd, but to be a part of this special fundraising benefit – thank you for inviting me to document this absolutely incredible event.

Cakebread Cellars Pinot Noir Harvest 2-17

The 2017 Cakebread Pinot Noir harvest was one for the books! Harvest is always a fun and exciting time in the winery, but the lead-up often brings an extra level of complexity, and this vintage was no exception.  Mother Nature brought abundant rainfall during winter, producing vigorous vines, followed by extreme heat over Labor Day, kicking harvest right into high gear.

Capturing the buzz at Cakebread Cellars during this time was truly one of my most memorable photoshoots yet.  The day for these grapes started with a night harvest at the Annahala and Apple Barn Estate vineyards – known collectively as Two Creeks Vineyards in Anderson Valley.  Here, the marine-influenced climate and warm, sunny afternoons provide the perfect stage for growing nine superior pinot noir clones.  By the time I was on-location at the winery in Napa just after sunrise, the fruit had just arrived from the vineyard and was ready to be sorted.

Meanwhile back at the winery, where the air was filled with aromas of juicy, fermenting fruit, the cellar team was equally as busy – grapes were hand-sorted, while tanks were drained and filled and pumpovers happening all around. Needless to say, harvest is truly an all-hands-on-deck job, with head winemaker Julianne Laks leading the charge.

There is no denying that during harvest an incredible amount of hours are spent in the vineyards and at the winery… I’m talking sometimes up to 100 hours a week. Cakebread’s crew had sky-high spirits and remained strong throughout the long days, fueled by shared laughter and camaraderie. Their spirits were infectious, making this day not only one of my most unforgettable and fun shoots, but also one of my most treasured Napa experiences.

And in case you’re wondering what Julianne’s verdict is for the ’17 Pinot….Let’s just say she cannot wait for us to try it.