Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Artists, Photographers and Winemakers Face Fear

At one time I lived in the drawing and painting art world. (I even ended up with a Master's Degree in Fine Art.) During that Painting Period of my life and now with photography, I noticed that after a very successful painting or gallery show, some artists (myself included) would fear to continue. A chilly inner voice whispered: "How can I do anything that good again?" So it was safer to continue using the same "successful" technique. For me that meant death to strong new work.

I wonder if winemakers experience the same "fear" after a successful wine? And worse yet, winemakers only get one chance a year. At least for me, when I do a bad photo, the next exposure is a new opportunity.

And how can an artist, photographer or winemaker get past this fear?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Photoshop and winemaking

Is making wine like using Photoshop?

In their book, The Creative Digital Darkroom, Katrin Eismann
and Sean Duggan write: "...it is common for students to focus first on the details of how to do something in Photoshop rather than focus on the image itself." They contend: "Before you even
start pondering whether to use Curves of Levels, you should take a good look at the image and see what it tells you."

Listen to the picture.

So is making wine similar? Do wine makers listen to what the wine tells them?

Winemaker Forest Klaffke and his team at Willamette Valley Vineyards set out the wine they will taste this day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Landscape in a Glass

Many ask how I did this photograph in my latest book, Oregon: The Taste of Wine. It's a vineyard landscape (Sunset over Adelsheim's Bryan Creek vineyard) in a Oregon Pinot glass made by glassware maker Rydel.

It's actually quite simple. Here's what I did:

1) Pour some deep red wine a clean Oregon Pinot glass.
2) Then comes the part requiring discipline: don't drink the wine.
3) Set it on the railing of our back deck.

4) Use my Nikon 60mm Macro lens to photograph the glass, ensuring that a nice landscape is seen in stem. Yes, that landscape is the part of view that we get from our deck.
5) Load the image into Photoshop to drop in the landscape in the dark wine. Set the landscape layer to Blending Mode: Lighten
6) Use the Liquify tool to give the landscape a swirl.

Nothing hidden here. Here are the actual Photoshop Adjustment Layers showing exactly what I did to achieve the Landsape in a Glass photograph.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Value of a Life: David Lett

Yesterday I had a humbling experience while attending the memorial service for David Lett, known to some as Papa Pinot.

About 250 or more people packed the McMinnville Community Center auditorium. A quartet of string, flute and piano played Beethoven, Bach and Mendelssohn. Two former governors attended, including Barbara Roberts, who gave one of the personal eulogies. The current governor declared it the David Lett wine making day. At the end, we were each given cuttings from one of David's original vineyards.

I measured my own life while I heard how David went to meetings of parents with autistic kids, how he work on land reform and had the vision and courage to plant Pinot noir and Pinot gris in a place most people declared it impossible to mature.

I found myself feeling small compared to David's accomplishments.

David Lett looking at a cluster of Pinot noir from his famous South Block vineyard during the 2007 harvest..

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are They Wine Makers or Wine Growers?

“I am the wine grower rather than wine maker. I think it’s a bit arrogant to say I make the wine. It connotes a philosophy of the person who is in control of everything. My philosophy is a bit different. I certainly have ownership and accountability. But Mother Nature has a big part in this as well. It’s the vine and what takes place in the vineyard. I’m just the janitor and shepherd of the process.”
Scott Shull, owner/wine grower/general manager Raptor Ridge Winery

“Don’t trust a winemaker who doesn’t have dirty feet at harvest time.”
Bob McRitche, Ph.D., retired winemaker/professor

“Every year is a different year. That’s Oregon. It’s like photography. Ansel Adams said that the
film negative was the score to the music and the print was the performance. It’s the same thing with grapes. Every year Mother Nature gives you this negative. Okay, we’ve got these grapes; here’s what you’ve got to work with. Then you take them into the winery and create the performance.”
Dick Erath, Winegrower, founder of Erath Vineyards/
Prince Hill Vineyards

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oregon's Best Vineyard Site Hasn’t Been Planted Yet

“We’ve just scratched the surface of great vineyard sites. People are experimenting with higher elevations and steeper grades, and we’re certainly looking to double our vineyard acreage in the next five years, all on what might be the best vineyard site in Oregon. We don’t know. I think that’s exciting.

“In Burgundy all the sites are taken. There you can make your little area as good as you can make it, but there’s certainly no chance of finding a new site. We have planted so little of our potential great vineyard sites in Oregon. The best vineyard site in Oregon probably hasn’t been planted yet.”

Adam Campbell, owner/winemaker Elk Cove Vineyards