Wine Tasting

Closing Time

Closing Time

Every December for the last couple of years my friends and I had down to Paso Robles for a weekend of fun and celebration. ALthough my roommate has now graduated and moved down to Southern California we still celebrate her birthday by renting a giant hacienda, cooking great food and tasting a lot of wine. While researching wineries I came across Steinbeck Vineyards and their jeep tour of their vineyards. When I called to see if they could handle a group of 30 young adults they were more than happy to accommodate us! We split into 2 groups and I was in the group arriving second. Before we even arrived we heard from the first group that the tour was absolutely amazing and that we were going to have a blast. When we finally got to Steinbeck and hopped into a 1950’s jeep we knew we were in for a treat. The ride was almost like a roller coaster, going up and down hills, around sharp bends and was an absolute blast!

While on the tour we stopped on top of this hill (we weren’t sure if they Jeep could make it, but it did!) and found out that it had been featured in a number of magazines, including wine spectator. Looking up at the clouds I had my hopes that sunset might produce some color and I knew that I wanted to come back here. After finally heading back to the tasting room and tasting some wine I asked if I might be allowed back into the vineyards. The owners dad was nice enough to hop in his pickup and drive me back out to the vineyards. Sure enough, as the sun set the entire sky exploded with pink, yellow, and red color. I think this sunset lasted for about 45 minutes. It was absolutely stunning!

Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
60mm, f/5, 0.6 sec, ISO 100

Purchase at Aaron M Photography

Ridge Lytton Springs

Ridge Lytton Springs

Ive been a club member (ATP collection) of Ridge Winery now for a year or two and really like their wine (obviously). They have 2 tasting rooms, one in Cupertino (called their Montebello Tasting Room because its on Montebello Road, in the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking all of the Bay Area) and one in Sonoma (called the Lytton Springs Tasting Room because its on Lytton Springs Rd). I go to the Montebello Tasting room fairly often because they have monthly events but this was the first time at the Lytton Springs tasting room.

Heres their big barrel room where they store all (well, a lot of it) their wine to age in barrels. Here you see some barrels from 2004. I think the wine in it is the 2010 harvest though, as some of the barrels have masking tape that says 10ZNLS which stands for 2010, Zinfindel, Lytton Springs or 10ZNEB for 2010, Zinfindel, East Bench.

As a side-note: Ridge specializes in single-vineyard winemaking. What this means is that instead of producing a wine that has grapes from various vineyards, all the grapes in a specific bottle came from the same vineyard. Additionally, instead of making a 100 Zinfandel or a Merlot their bottles are named after the vineyard the grapes come from and contain all the grapes that were grown there. So if the vineyard happened to have Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane grapes (like the Lytton Springs vineyard), their Lytton Springs wine will have all 3 in it.

Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots … of wine

Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots ... of wine

About a month ago I went up to Sonoma Valley for their annual Barrel Tasting weekend. About 140 wineries participate and for ~$20 you can get tastings at any of the wineries, get a free wine glass, and even some yummy grub if the winery is so nice to have a BBQ. We made it to 5 wineries before getting burnt out and at the last one their wall was lined with wine bottles. I thought it made for some neat geometry so I snapped away.

As you’ll notice I’m trying to get away from doing HDR photos. The set of HiTek filters and my Lee Filter holder mean I get a lot better light into the camera and don’t need to take multiple exposures as much. Only 3 of my last 10 photos have been HDR. I tossed around the idea of posting this as a non-HDR but there was just too much detail in the HDR version that I decided to post this one.

Nikon D300s w/Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S:
17mm, f/4, ISO 400, Handheld
HDR composed of 3 images (1/80 sec, 1/125 sec, 1/50 sec) – processed in Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

 

Old Buey

Old Buey

As many of you may know from my previous photos I like to go wine tasting …. a lot. I belong to a couple wine club’s in Napa Valley and therefore I spend most of my time there (free tastings!). I’ve only been to Sonoma Valley once and when my friends mentioned that there was a weekend of Barrel Tastings in Sonoma for only $20 I jumped on and bought my tickets. For $20 you could go to ~150 wineries in Sonoma (both Sat/Sunday), got a souvenir Reidel wine glass, and a lot of the wineries had food. It was pretty neat because you could taste the wine in the barrel (free bottling/blending), then go taste an earlier years finished product. We had a blast.

At Ridge Winery (which I’m a club member of) I noticed that there was an old buick in the parking lot. I grabbed my camera and snapped this HDR (which I thought made for a neat effect). I tried to keep it realistic and blended in the neutral RAW photo for most of this.

The thing I like most is that the reflection of the tree branches in the hood of the car makes the word ”Older”!!!!

Nikon D300s w/Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S:
17mm, f/7.1, 1/400 sec, ISO 320, Handheld
HDR composed of 5 images – processed in Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

A Bit Out of Place?

A Bit Out of Place?

On the north side of Napa Valley lies the town of Calistoga. Made famous by Chateau Montelena in 1973 when all 11 Judges in the historic ”Judgement of Paris” wine competition awarded their top scores to Chateau Montelena, putting Napa wine on the map. Chateau Montelena was also featured in the 2008 film Bottle Shock.

Chateau Montelena has a gorgeous chateau building that greets you on a hill when you arrive. I’ve taken some photos there in the past and found that it’s also a great spot to take photos of people because the background is just so interesting/fun. Below the chateau is a small pond with some walking bridges that lead you to two picnic tables (the photo above). I thought it was interested that they fill their chateau with japanese architecture! At least it was something pretty to photograph ;)

Nikon D300s w/Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S:
17mm, f/7.1, ISO 320, Handheld
HDR composed of 3 photos merged in Photomatix Pro and edited in Photoshop CS5.

Available for Purchase at Aaron M Photography

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

I posted a shot the other day of my friend leaning against these wine barrels and today I’m posting a wider shot of the front of the Chateau Montelena. Chateau Montelena is a Napa Valley winery most famous for winning the white wine section of the historic ”Judgement of Paris” wine competition. Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay was in competition with nine other wines from France and California under blind tasting. All 11 judges awarded their top scores to either the Chardonnays from Chateau Montelena or Chalone Winery, another California wine producer. Chateau Montelena was featured in the 2008 film Bottle Shock.

We didnt really like their wine, but their Chateau was pretty cool looking!

Nikon D300s w/Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S:
25mm, f/9, ISO 400, Handheld
HDR composed of 5 photos merged in Photomatix Pro and edited in Photoshop CS5.

Available for Purchase at Aaron M Photography