As a collector of wine and former professional in the wine industry, I have a deep appreciation for the “old world” of France. With it’s rich history, plethora of grape varietals and wine regions, France is where it all begins.
Having grown up in the Napa Valley, my roots run fairly deep in the wine community. My Father dedicated his entire career to the wine industry, my first job as a teenager was at a winery, I studied wine and worked as a Sommelier for years, and now I dedicate my craft of photography to the wine industry.
Now, with all of that being said, I was absolutely elated when I received the call to make my first homage to the “old world” of France. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Europe previously and enjoyed several astounding wines from across the pond, but France had yet to be checked off my bucket list. That changed in early 2018 when one of my favorite clients, Somm Select, reached out to coordinate a trip to the Loire Valley and Burgundy France.
The founders of Somm Select, Brandon Carneiro (MBA in Wine Business) and Ian Cauble (Master Sommelier) were coordinating a multi-week trip to France and then Germany. The Somm Select team, particularly Ian, spends a great deal of time trotting across the globe in search of rare and exquisite wines to offer to their clientele. For their first journey to France in 2018, they decided to increase their marketing appeal and enlist the services of professional photography to document their trip.
Our journey began in Paris (after a 12 hour flight from San Francisco) where I met up with Brandon, Ian, and David Lynch (award winning Author and editorial director at Somm Select). We immediately packed our van and headed for the countryside.
For photography equipment, I knew we would frequently be on the go and minimal encumbernce would be crucial. So I packed as light as possible. My primary camera body was my trusty Canon 5D Mark iv. I brought the versatile Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens and a wide angle Canon 16-35mm f/4. I knew my camera body would be capable of some intensely high ISO in the darkest corners of the cellars, so I left the lighting and flashes at home. I packed a small Manfrontto action tri-pod, with a remote shutter and a few filters just in case, plus lots of batteries. Everything fit nicely in to a small Lowepro bag.
The itinerary included a night in Chinon, stops in Touraine and Orleans, a few nights in the Loire Valley, specifically in Sancerre and Chavignol, and then off to Burgundy where the final few days and nights were spent. In Burgundy we visited the “Route des Grand Crus” where some of the best grapevines in the world reside, along with trips to Nuits-Saint-Georges. We stayed in a small village adjacent to Vosne-Romanee, filled with charming and beautiful architecture and vineyard vistas stretching as far as the eye could see.
A few of our highlights included Domaine Noire in Chinon, Domaine Vacheron in Sancerre, along with Domaine Cherrier, Blanchet, and Pascal Cotat, also in Sancerre.
In Burgundy we paid homage Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg, Domaine Anne Gros, Domaine Delarche and many others. All in all, we visited over 25 incredible wineries.
Some properties were as humble as a basement or a family living room, some were akin to a mechanic shop or farmhouse, while other wineries consisted of 17th century caves with mold thicker than a bed mattress. Medieval type castles with long twisting catacombs or contemporary and elegant buildings with cellar floors so clean you could eat off of them; the full spectrum was on display during our trip.
My job was to capture the essence of a Master Sommelier and his team, seeking out rare and delightful wines. I photographed the Vignernons, the subtle art of wine tasting, the beautiful properties, structures, and vineyards. My photography skills were definitely pushed to the limit in near-dark cellars, rainy afternoons that would suddenly shift to bright skies, and of course, the constant action and movement as our itineraries were packed from sun up to sun down.
I was lucky enough to taste some of the best and most expensive wines in the world, to rare wines of exceptional value due to lack of exposure. I snapped off over 5,000 photos during the duration of the trip, of which about 500 made the final cut of delivery.
Needless to say, it was a trip of a lifetime! Providing photography for the wine industry is a dream job in my opinion, and this was just one step above.
Check out some of photography highlights below.
Sancerre – Loire Valley
Burgundy – Vosne Romanee, Gevrey Chambertin, Cote de Beaune, Nuits-Saint-Georges
To schedule a photo shoot for your Winery or Wine Industry related concept, you can reach me directly at (707) 363 – 2489 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org – I work throughout the Napa Valley and Sonoma County. I frequently head to the Central CA Coast wine regions and North to Mendocino County as well.