I thought I'd heard of all the major types of grapes for winemaking but I'd never heard of the Tannat. Now I have. And I've tried some wine made with Tannat grapes and it was good.

Just after dawn at the Rustic Spur Vineyard. The Tannat grapes
wiggle and sway in a gentle morning breeze as the ground fog
burns away.

One of the things I've enjoyed very much in my career as a photographer is being invited to "parachute" into so many different businesses and events, to see things I'd never seen before and to learn about subjects from experts. It's like being paid to take a never-ending series of really, really fun, miniature college courses without the bother of grades or homework. 

Earlier in my work life I had the job of writing a series of consumer magazine articles about wines and spirits. I spent hours talking to wine merchants and wine enthusiasts. I did a lot of research and as much diligent tasting as I could. I wrote the articles because I convinced the editors that I could provide a whole package each time. If I wrote about Champagne and sparkling wines, for example, I'd have done the research, gotten some consensus about the most popular brands, figured out what to pair them with and then got to make fun photographs of bottles, pours, and various still life images evoking the joy of Champagne and sparkling wines. 

But in that time of research, and the ensuing decades of poring over wine lists and reading articles, I never came across the Tannat grape. If I did at some point the knowledge didn't stick. Here's the lead in at Wikipedia: 

"Tannat is a red wine grape, historically grown in South West France in the Madiran AOC, and is now one of the most prominent grapes in Uruguay, where it is considered the "national grape".[1]

Tannat is also grown in  ArgentinaAustraliaBrazilBoliviaPeruSouth Africa, and in the Italian region of Apulia, where it is used as a blending grape.[2] In the states of Maryland and Virginia, there are small experimental plantings of the vine, and plantings in California have increased dramatically in the first years of the 21st century. It has also been increasingly planted in ArizonaOregon and Texas.

Tannat wines produced in Uruguay are usually quite different in character from Madiran wines, being lighter in body and lower in tannins. It is also used to make full bodied rosé. In France, efforts to solve the harsh tannic nature of the grape led to the development of the winemaking technique known as micro-oxygenation."

The full article is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tannat

The Tannat grapes in central Texas are just about to be harvested. I'm considering going back out to photograph the harvest on Monday even the the job that started all my renewed interest in Texas wines is wrapped, delivered and billed. I guess I had so much fun the first time around that my invitation to this new harvest, which will be done with machines instead of by hand, just seems like a wonderful little mini-vacation, as well as a chance to learn more, first hand, about mechanical grape harvesting. All bound up with the potential to make new portfolio images.

My new wine expert friend, John, whose credentials in viniculture are impressive, handed me a bottle of his 2017 Tannat, made from grapes grown at the Rustic Spur Vineyard, and the wine was quite good. Different, and with much more forward tannins than the wines I usually drink. It's refreshing to try new interpretations of red wine and this was a fun adventure. 

At any rate, my plan is to take one camera and one lens and spend all day Monday zooming around two different vineyards as the wine pros harvest various types of grapes from both. With a big machine! 

The images above and below were done at Rustic Spur Vineyard at the end of July. I used the new Leica 24-90mm lens on the Leica SL (601) camera and loved the look I was able to get. This time I'll most likely mix it up and put the 24/90mm on the newer SL2 body. It will be nice to dive deeper into the differences between the two cameras. But nicer still to see something new and then to retire to the tasting rooms and sample the work of past harvests. 

Or, "what I do for fun after I do it for work..."


High Hair. Framed in the vines. Topped with luxurious skies.


Yesterday was spent totally immersed in all the photographs I made for the wine project. Most are straightforward images of backlit wine bottles, bright young professionals enjoying wine tastings out in the Hill Country. Some are of the nuts and bolts of harvest and process but some, nowhere to be found on shot lists or referenced in pre-production conversations, were just images that I found interesting and fun in the moment. 

This one qualifies. I'd photographed this young woman facing me in a whole series of shots that showed her kind and happy face but when she turned away I loved the look of the layers of hair all wrapped up and engineered onto the top of her head. 

I'd love to think I shot this with the ponderous/ponderous Leica 24-90mm lens but a quick look at the shot data shows that it was done with the mysterious and reserved Sigma 45mm f2.8 i Series lens. As were all the ones leading up to this shot. 

We always wish for the "magic bullet" lens or camera but in truth we are most successful when we just work on our aim. And when we put ourselves in the right place. In both the physical location and our state of mind.