Friday, October 10, 2008

The Honey Bees of Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Wine Estate

As mentioned in the previous post Michel-Schlumberger believes strongly in giving back to the land that gives them the grapes that produce the estates distinctive wines. Winemaking and the resulting wine can mean different things to different people. Making distinctive wines that reflect the terrior of the estate and/or vineyard involves much more than just fermenting grape juice. Winery owner Jacques Schlumberger and winemaker Michael Brunson are committed to the techniques and practice of sustainable/organic farming at the Michel-Schlumberger Benchland Wine Estate.

Today I visited the estate and photographed beehives, sheep, chickens, hawk perches and gardens...all will be featured in wine exhibit multimedia clips. The above photograph shows the estates beehives nestled just above Wine Creek. By the way... if you're interested in bees and beekeeping you should take a look at Barbara Schlumberger's, (Jacques wifes) "Melissa Garden" website.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Harvest Photography in Dry Creek Valley

I love Dry Creek Valley... It is a beautiful little slice of the world located in Sonoma County. It offers a simple, rural lifestyle where you can drive along narrow winding roads passing vineyards and farmhouses where you may see fencepost signs selling natural eggs or heirloom tomatoes, olives and fresh breads... many sold on "honor system" tables by the roadside. Dry Creek Valley is also filled with some of the best Zinfandel vineyards in the world. You also find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and a little Chardonnay, among others. Two of my favorite wineries in this small idyllic valley are Michel-Schlumberger and Bella.

Jacques Schlumberger along with winemaker Michael Brunson have built Michel-Schlumberger into a beautiful example of a sustainably farmed benchland winery. An exhibit multimedia clip will feature the winery for it's impressive practices and trendsetting in the area of organic & sustainable farming in the vineyard.

A relative newcomer in Dry Creek, Bella Winery has seduced me with it's comfortable, non-pretentious atmosphere. It's almost new age and traditional at the same time. The wines are big and rich...tasting that "Lily Hill" Zin in the wineries hillside cave makes me one happy camper!
Bella is a small winery making handcrafted wines. The grapes are pressed in a medium size hydraulic basket press. These little gems employ old world pressing technique & design in shiny modern stainless steel versions with computer monitored accuracy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Back on Track: Return to Napa... Harvest 2008

I was very concerned during the long Hurricane Ike delay in Houston that I was going to miss the peak of harvest 2008 in Northern California. It was already an earlier than normal harvest and I desperately needed more photos for the exhibit multimedia pieces. Fortunately, I was able to get what I needed to complete the fact, as it worked out the Monticello "State Lane" vineyard was being picked just after I returned to Napa and it is one of the most picturesque vineyards that I have ever shot in.

In addition to the photography I spent quite a bit of time recording audio for the exhibit. This was something new for me but the results were great. The new mid/high end digital recorders are outstanding in ease of use and sound quality. I recorded vineyard workers picking, tractors, crush pad sounds, geese overhead...everything!
Next I head over the hill to Sonoma to catch the end of harvest there...