Below is a selection of my favorite images from a recent shoot ( and tasting !) at Benanti Winery , located near Catania, in Sicily . The winery has a long history and dates back to the late 1800’s. Benanti’s vineyard sits on an ancient and volcanic crater near the slopes of Mt. Etna , one of the oldest vinicultural areas in eastern Sicily. In fact, some of the oldest D.O.C’s are from this area. The rich volcanic soil and high temperature variation give these grapes amazing flavor. The primary grapes grown near the base of Mt. Etna are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccino, but Benati is known for it’s production of non-indigenoius grapes. As a Napa wine photographer, I have tasted many different varieties of wine, but the “vino” I drank in Sicily ranks among the finest! The wine was so delicious, my wife and I sent a case back home to California!
In May I did a shoot for Branca International in Tuscany, Italy. Branca International is the maker of Fernet Branca, which many of you foodies out there have sipped on after a delicious meal. Villa Branca is in the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti Region. Branca makes Chianti Classico and hearty Tuscan Olive Oil. The Villa’s history is long by american standards- the cellar dates back to the 1300’s and was previously owned by the Medici family! The vineyards and wine cellar are just spectacular. I had am amazing time working with the winemaking and management team of Stefano and Anna Serbakova. So in addition to an incredible photo shoot, I gained new friendship that day in Tuscany.
Below are a few images from a shoot at one of my favorite wineries, Chateau Montelena. Montelena and it’s owner, Jim Barrett, are known worldwide. They make a variety of incredible reds and whites and the property has an extensive history. Barrett, with the help of Steven Spurrier, owner and founder of then Academie du Vin in Paris, played key roles in bringing a new generation of California wines that could stand up to France’s finest. Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay won first place in the “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. The four winning wines were Chateau Montelena ’73 from Napa, French Meursault-Charmes ’73, Chlaone ’74 Monterey County, California and Napa’s Spring Mountain ’73. A fictionalized version of Chateau Montelena’s victory was featured in the 2008 film Bottle Shock , which I suggest watching if you enjoying learning about wine. The historic win at the Judgement of Paris clearly called attention to the lesser known and valued California wine industry and firmly planted Napa Valley on the map. If you happen to be in the Calistoga area, Chateau Montelena is well worth the trip.
I had an amazing time shooting the Teavana campaign for Starbucks and Oprah Winfrey in Seattle. At the end of 2013 , Starbucks and Oprah announced a joint venture to co-create Teavana Oprah Chai Tea. I photographed Oprah as she developed the tea with Teavana’s leading teaologist , Naoko Tsunoda. It was inspiring to watch! The images were shot in a very natural and organic style. Oprah was incredibly down to earth. I feel very fortunate to have worked with such an inspiring woman. This shoot was one of the highlight of my career thus far. Take a look at Teavana’s website, and look at some of my favorite images below.
I recently did a shoot at Pezzini Farms in Castroville, CA otherwise known as the self-proclaimed artichoke capital of the world. I have never seen to many acres of fresh vegetables. Acres upon acres! In the end, I got caught up in the excitement and bought a few dozen for my family. Pezzini is a great example of a local, sustainable farming operation that strives to bring high quality products to its consumers. During the shoot, I learned a little about the history of artichokes. Artichokes bloom from the same bulb year after year. What you see below are artichokes that stem from the original bulb brought over from Italy, planted locally in Castroville over 80 years ago. If you are interested in a great weekend getaway, stop at Pezzini Farms for fresh produce on the way to Carmel or Big Sur. Definitely worth the trip!
I love photographing winery events in Napa and Sonoma. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of photographing one of the most anticipated events of the year for Raymond Vineyards: The release of their 2010 Generations Cabernet Sauvignon. It was an incredible event with delicious food, and of course, older vintages of Raymond’s flagship wine, Generations Cabernet Sauvignon.