Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 - Time to Explore...More

One of my personal goals this year was to get a nice digital camera and begin shooting my own version of Napa Valley and the local areas. Well, after a very good referral from a photographer friend of mine, I'm off and running with my new gadget.

One of things I've quickly noticed is that you immediately become more observant about your surroundings...looking for any opportunity to shoot a good shot. I've gotten up early to catch a sunrise, taken the camera in the car on the way to work, taken it along while walking the dog, and pretty much looking at the vineyards much more diligently than ever before.

The Vineyards

There is a strange beauty in the depleted vineyards right now. The vines are being pruned back and the mustard flower is almost in full-bloom weaving its way throughout the land. Where the vines were once canopied and fully green, all the greenery is now on the valley floor and hills contrasting with the barren stalks of vines...almost giving it a sinister look to the vineyards.

Another observance is the the quicker assessment of the age of the vines. You can easily discern the young, newly planted 'skinny' vines along with the thicker, more robust aged trunks that denote its length of time in the ground. After being here for while, you can actually spot the 20+ year-old vines pretty easily in one glance.

The Land

The geology here is also pretty amazing. I had a tasting with a winemaker friend of mine that was a geologist in his former life. He now owns a vineyard up on Diamond Mountain (one of my favorite sub-appellations here) and he gave a quick lesson as we were standing atop the mountain area looking down at the valley floor. He said this area is so unique in that it comprises three primary topographies/landscape formations - 1) Volcanic, 2) Glacial, and 3) Tectonic. This was all "greek" to me, but when you look around, you can actually see these type geological activities results across the landscape.

The Seasons

Then there is the seasons as it relates to the sun. As you observe the path of the sun at different times of the year, you begin to notice how it affects the vines in various ways. As the sun goes from East to West and/or lower and higher during the seasons, you see that there is somewhat of a science to how the vines are laid out. some run North to South or East to West (or vise-versa) depending on their location in the valley or across a hilltop.mountain. This is no accident and when you talk to growers or vineyard mangers, you realize there is deep philosophy mixed with wine science that goes in to the entire process.

It never fails to blow me away when I really sit and write or think about these special things about 'wine country'. I love it here. These are just a few quick observations and I'm sure much more to come as I begin to explore this region and beyond start to train my new photographic eye.

Until the next sip, swirl ya' later!


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